A Brief History
On December 7, 2021, we once again delve into the entertainment world with a review of a recently released major motion picture, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, released in the United States on November 24, 2021. After having seen all 6 of the previous Resident Evil movies, and Dr. Zar having played the video game for many years, going to the theater to get the big screen impression of this reboot was mandatory.
This time, no more Milla Jovovich as the main character Alicia “Alice” Marcus, a character that does not appear in the games. This time the movie characters are only those from the games, but this time casting was the point of contention for many Resident Evil fans. Although we did enjoy the movie, we have to agree that the casting was a little weak. The main character, again a female lead, Kaya Scodelario as Claire Redfield, was pretty and athletic much as Milla Jovovich in the other films but lacked a certain amount of gravitas. She seemed moderately disinterested at times and not fully invested in the horrific events that were unfolding. Her fault or the director’s fault? We do not know, but somehow it was a failing. The other major what the heck casting move was Avan Jogia as Leon S. Kennedy, who played a borderline moronic police officer seemingly inserted for comic relief. (Note: This film should not have comic relief.) We have seen other critiques that criticized Tom Hopper as Albert Wesker, but in fact we think he was a good choice for the role and played it well, though somewhat understated.
Director Johannes Roberts has a resume that includes horror/thriller films, so his input shows in his capable, although not spectacular, directing of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City.
Not particularly well received, the film has just about recovered its $25 million price tag at the worldwide box office but seems on pace to fall far short of the financial success of the other films in the franchise. (The initial film, Resident Evil, 2002, more than tripled its cost in its box office receipts. The 4th and 6th films of the franchise raked in $300 million apiece at the box office, setting a rather high bar for this reboot.) It must be noted that critical acclaim for a patently ridiculous science fiction horror video game based movie is irrelevant, and only that audience approval and money rolling in matters. In this case, the audience polling service, CinemaScore, reports that movie goers gave the film a disappointing grade of C+ (on the F to A+ scale).
Still, in spite of lukewarm audience response and decidedly mediocre critical reception, we liked the movie okay, although we do not rate it among the top in the franchise. The 107 minute running time seemed about right, although the film had a little bit of a slow stretch in the beginning, presumably to develop characters. Special effects were merely ok, not noticeably bad, but not exactly blowing us away, either. Otherwise, cinematography was fine and there were the requisite monsters to terrorize the humans investigating the disaster.
With Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (and for that matter, any of the Resident Evil films) we are not expecting War and Peace or The 10 Commandments. What we are expecting is some eye candy and monsters vs. humans with at least a reasonable degree of tension developed in the audience caring about whether or not the characters survive the ordeal. Some eye candy is always good, too, though in this particular film perhaps more would be better. In these respects, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City succeeds well enough that we are glad we went to the movies to watch this latest installment in a film series we have invested considerable time and attention in. Perhaps not a classic, but certainly worth your while for horror movie fans and especially fans of the Resident Evil franchise. Just do not take it so seriously.
Question for students (and subscribers): Which film in the Resident Evil franchise is your favorite? Why? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Aniel, Alex. Itchy, Tasty: An Unofficial History of Resident Evil. Unbound, 2021.
Farghaly, Nadine(Editor). Unraveling Resident Evil: Essays on the Complex Universe of the Games and Films. McFarland, 2014.
The featured image in this article, a scaled-down, low-resolution image of poster for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, is used in article that provides critical commentary on the film in question on a website hosted on servers in the United States per fair use under the copyright law of the United States.