Director: Johannes Roberts
Writer: Johannes Roberts
Starring: Kaya Scodelario, Hannah John-Kamen, Robbie Amell, Tom Hopper, Avan Jogia, Donal Logue, Neal McDonough, Marina Mazepa
It’s been almost five years after Resident Evil: The Final Chapter finished off Paul W. S. Anderson’s take on the long running franchise. The reboot that was originally announced when The Final Chapter was still in cinemas is finally here. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City takes us back to when the outbreak first started, and its pure popcorn entertainment the whole way through with so many references for die-hard fans to enjoy.
Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) is returning to Raccoon City to see her brother, Chris (Robbie Amell), who she’s barely spoken to since running away from the orphanage they both grew up in. Claire knows that something isn’t right in the city and wants to warn her brother. At the same time the rookie cop on the force, Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia) is left by himself to man the front desk at the station after the rest of the squad are sent to Spencer Mansion to investigate a reported dead body. The massive pharmaceutical company, Umbrella, is moving away from Racoon City, but the virus they’ve created has leaked into the general population. At 6am they will be destroying the town, killing everyone inside and containing the threat completely.
The story adapts the original two games that were released back in the mid/late 90s. The film stays true to the originals, being set in 1998, but it does combine the two stories, so they play out at the same time. It really works. Right from the opening sequence, which shows Chris and Claire in the orphanage with some strange things happening around them, it’s pure mindless entertainment. It’s funny, has some pretty creepy moments and just enough jump scares to get you while not overdoing it.
The trailer for Welcome to Raccoon City left a lot to be desired. It looked cheap and rushed. Thankfully it didn’t do the final film justice at all. It don’t capture the manic energy, or the great chemistry between all the characters, or the great soundtrack to accompany them. For those familiar with the game series, all of the main characters are here, and they are perfectly cast. The acting may not be anything to write home about, but they’re all good in their roles.
It’s really faced paced, not really slowing down from the moment it starts. It doesn’t feel rushed in anyway, just keeping the action going. The zombies look pretty good, nothing spectacular, but they’re creepy enough. They are different from the original games, a lot quicker, and they turn slower, and you can see them progress from human to mindless zombies. It’s an interesting idea to see them turn like this and it works well. It all builds, in typical Resident Evil style, to an underground lab, a train ride and one hell of a big monster trying to kill them. It may not be true terror and horror, but there are some chilling moments and Lisa Trevor (Marina Mazepa) is really creepy.
Lisa Trevor is just one of the many references to the games that long term fans will instantly get. It’s not just box ticking, this is a labour of love. You can feel Johannes Roberts passion for the series, with so many references to the games, that’ll get die-hard fans excited. The characters, including minor ones, are excellent. When Claire first gets to Chris’s house, she walks around examining things like you would in the game. There’s a piano puzzle at one point. The way that Leon walks is perfect from the games. Johannes Roberts also manages to squeeze in the line ‘Jill Sandwich’ at one point, which is for the real long-term fans.
There are some niggles, especially with some of the sometimes-shoddy special effects, but they are really minor and the greatness of everything else outshines them. It may work more for established fans of the series, with all the references and characters, but newcomers will be able to pick up the story without any hassle. It doesn’t go that deep into the lore, focusing more on the entertainment.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is one of the great video game adaptations yet. It’s incredible fun. Writer and director Johannes Roberts has said that he hopes to adapt Code Veronica and then the fourth game. Fingers crossed the sequels happen, because this one is great.
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