Like everything on the internet, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City has been met with controversy. Why? Well, there are many reasons. Firstly, fans have a problem with the cast. Secondly, fans have a problem with the CGI depicted in the trailer. Thirdly, there’s a kind of…low-budget-esque quality to the whole thing.
But I’m not so bothered by those things2. Firstly, I’m more concerned that the cast echoes the feeling of their characters than their looks. Secondly, this is only the trailer – it’s unlikely producers would allow the best CGI moments to leak through marketing material. Thirdly, a low budget doesn’t mean a bad movie – look at how The Blair Witch Project revolutionized horror on $35,000-$60,000! At the end of the day, it’s how the director can effectively convey the survival-horror stylings of the Resident Evil videogames.
No, my big bad problem with the upcoming Resident Evil movie reboot? It’s that it’s focusing on too much at once!
Hero of Another RE Story
As fans of the long-running series of videogames know, Resident Evil focuses on a massive cast of characters. But you see, here’s the thing – it focuses on those characters over multiple games. The problem with the Resident Evil Welcome to Raccoon City movie trailer is that it focuses on too many characters and too many stories at once.
As seen in the first trailer (and described by its director), WTRC explores both the mansion and police station incidents of the first and second RE games. What made the games effective was that they reserved both of these stories for their own individual games. The limited cast of characters in each story helped us connect with them instead of being spoilt for choice between an overly-packed gallery of heroes fighting for screen-time.
The thing is that by cramming both the scenarios of RE 1 and 2, Welcome to Raccoon City is doing exactly as stated above. It’s spreading itself way too thin. Again, I have no problem with casting as long as these iconic characters are well-written and exude the qualities of their in-game incarnations. However, given the film’s far-too-ambitious scope, it seems unlikely that we will have time for well-written characters. There is far too much going on in this movie to give the characters the love they deserve.
Too Resident, Too Evil
While it’s commendable that director Johannes Roberts prioritizes horror over action in his film, this could fall flat. The stories of Resident Evil 1 & 2 are great for entirely different reasons. The first game’s mansion incident was engaging because it follows experienced combatants in a mysterious mansion, gradually learning about the tragic fate of its inhabitants throughout the story.
Meanwhile, the second game’s story focuses on a pair of rookies exploring an abandoned police station before heading into a secret lab. The stories not only have different vibes, but their settings also have their own specific reasons and don’t work if jammed together. The mansion incident is tense because it occurs in the middle of nowhere in an isolated location. In contrast, the police station is tense because it is an abandoned city-based location occupied by zombies. One is a mysterious location; the other is a relic of law enforcement.
Due to the two previous games’ differences in atmosphere, Welcome to Raccoon City would have best chosen one story and gone with it. However, jamming these two stories together risks a couple of things—first – a clash in tones and story themes. Secondly, spreading too thin may focus on neither story at the expense of cramming in as many setpieces as possible.
Alas, Horrific Villain
Another bad problem that the Resident Evil movie reboot two-story approach creates is ‘who is the villain?’ Now, I assume they are going to make Wesker the main bad guy and conniving Umbrella associate. But both Resident Evil 1 & 2 have their own set of monsters and action setpieces that differentiate them from one another.
While RE1 has the horrific experiment Lisa as a major antagonist, RE2 has the far smarter Umbrella weapon, Mr. X (or the Tyrant). Now, it’s confirmed that Lisa makes an appearance in this movie. However, I truly hope they don’t carelessly throw in the Tyrant as well. This intimidating stone-faced villain deserves more than a small part in this film. As Resi players know, much of the second game’s tension lay in being pursued by Mr. X and is one of the things most memorable about the game.
Honestly, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City movie trailer would have done better to adopt the first game and save the horrors of the sequel for the second. This already-overcrowded film would suffer for throwing everything in the game except the kitchen sink.
Welcome to Raccoon City
I will say this for the RE movie reboot, however. It looks far better than anything served up by the last six films. For those who love the video games, there is much joy to see the video games’ locations faithfully adapted in live-action.
But I can’t help but feel that this movie is so overcrowded that it won’t do its source material justice. The one saving grace is that it focuses on the survival horror that made the games so special. We will see whether it succeeds on this front when the movie hits theatres in November.
What did you think of the Resident Evil movie trailer? Do you think that the Resident Evil movie reboot’s going to be good or bad? Let us know in the comments below!