Whether you hate them or love them, one can't really deny the big-screen success of the 'Resident Evil' franchise. Paul W.S. Anderson pretty well drove it into the ground, and a lot of gaming fans had a whole slew of problems with them - not the least of which was the lead character of Alice, who never had anything to do with the games. So, of course, it's time for a reboot! And while this didn't do terribly well critically, I have to say that I still really enjoyed it, and I'm sticking to that.
Even though when it comes to the game franchise, I'm relatively clueless (because tank controls ruined everything forever... and yes, I need to play the remakes), I do have some familiarity with various characters and situations thanks to the book series. It also helps me a GREAT deal to not be a "purist" when it comes to an adaptation. A good comparison to 'Resident Evil' for me would be something like 'The Haunting of Hill House'. There are a few adaptations of that story, using the same characters in very different circumstances, and none of them are actually that bad (although one might argue that about the '99 version). Luckily for me, this gave me the exact same effect that 'Silent Hill' did. I think I'm just gonna start calling it the "Silent Hill" effect.
To define this, basically, I'm able to approach the film as its own movie as opposed to an adaptation that has me searching out all of its faults. I find this works pretty well (although a real 'RE' fan might correct me on this) as a sort of "crash course" in 'Resident Evil' education. For comparison, 'Detective Pikachu' was a good "crash course" for those unfamiliar with 'Pokemon'. As far as I could tell, this was a good blend of the first two games. It uses all of the right characters and doesn't feel the need to bring in someone brand spanking new to everything to be some sort of main character who looks amazing with a red dress and a gigantic gun.
Aptly, in 1998, we meet Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) who is on her way back to her ruined hometown of Raccoon City with important information to give her brother, Chris (Robbie Amell) about the Umbrella Corporation's experiments. Anyone reading this right now already knows about the major leak that makes a shitload of walking dead, but it's the whole process of their deterioration that's so horrific here. I have to admit that while it's probably pretty inaccurate for the game, it's fantastically creepy for a horror movie. Anyway, ultimately Chris doesn't believe her at first, but soon enough, that changes.
Chris, along with skilled STARS (Special Tactics and Rescue Service) Alpha Team, Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper), Brad Vickers (Nathan Dales) and Richard Aiken (Chad Rook) are all sent to the Spencer Mansion to investigate the disappearance of their Bravo team. Of course, within the mansion, they find all sorts of cool stuff that point at Umbrella's experimentation gone awry. Meanwhile, rookie Leon S. Kennedy (Avan Jogia), police chief Irons (Donal Logue) and Claire end up having to hold the fort at the police station, thus giving us a generous roll-up of the first two games. Bearing in mind that I'm no expert, I feel like I got a REAL 'Resident Evil' movie here as opposed to the action-horror the original 6 amounted to.
There's no doubt in my mind that 'Resident Evil' purists won't be the biggest fans of this. But I really do feel like this is still the video game genre stepping forward as opposed to backward. All of the right elements seemed to be here, but it also doesn't go completely without criticism. If the film has any problem at all, it's that it tries to do too much in a short time, not even reaching two hours in length. It may have been better as two short movies, but I appreciate the effort they put forth in trying to give us a combination film as opposed to stretching it out as far as it can go. Apparently, it was quite successful, so I am curious to see if they will continue this as a whole new (and already kind of better) 'Resident Evil' film series.