Evil is about to awaken in Raccoon City. An evil that has remained dormant for a long time, held in gestation by a film industry unable to manage it at best. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City brings a horror saga that has long been clamoring for an adaptation worthy of the name to the big screen, and in part, Johannes Roberts' film seems to vaguely deliver on its promises.
However, there is a great compromise that the public will have to accept once the film inspired by the video games Capcom has arrived in theaters: to understand that work like Welcome to Raccoon City makes sense to exist precisely because it bears the name of Resident Evil, in what an operation of pure fanservice that wants to entertain without the pretensions of a great blockbuster, with a b-movie soul that does not equal the cornerstones of the genre but keeps the bar intact with a certain dignity.
In the footsteps of Resident Evil
The attempt at Roberts' film transposition is undoubtedly commendable: recovering the spirit, tones, and style of the first games in the Capcom series, returning a familiar version for all fans of the saga that at the same time is able to tell a story in a different way. already known.
And it's clear from the very first minutes, with a new origin story for Chris and Claire Redfield, rewritten and sewn onto the characters played by Robbie Amell and Kaya Scodelario: two orphaned brothers, raised in an orphanage owned by the Umbrella Corporation in the gloomy town of Raccoon City, the scene of shady deals and terrible experiments by the multinational that soon transform the city into a wasteland, dead and putrescent. Once grown up, the Redfield brothers cross their paths again to deal with the machinations of Doctor Spencer, guilty of having spread an unhealthy and apocalyptic epidemic.
And here Chris's journey, together with his police team, leads the young man to the gates of Villa Spencer, while Claire's search for the truth about her past makes her cross paths with Leon Scott Kennedy, first-time agent weapons unaware of the horrors in which Raccoon City will soon fall. Those who have devoured the videogame saga well will have understood that the narrative plot of the film tries to cross and amalgamate the plots of the first two games, dividing the story into two parallel stories between Villa Spencer and the streets of Raccoon City, which instead represent the scene of that second episode that Capcom recently brought back to life, as we explain in our review of Resident Evil 2 Remake.
Welcome to Raccoon City
A warp that, on the whole, can work, that of the work of Johannes Roberts. A nostalgia operation which, at the very least, recovers various elements of the classical "lore", partly by rewriting them and partly by paying homage to them, moving away not a little from the much more reworked vision of the much-discussed transpositions of Paul W. S. Anderson with Milla Jovovich.
In Welcome to Raccoon City, there is love and respect for the original mythology, but despite this, the film takes some liberties in the writing of the characters and in the ranks of the script. This film is above all a story of origins which, in redefining some of the basic concepts of the saga, has its own times in the flow of the story: a very long prologue, which almost extends throughout the first act, gives space to a largely original screenplay. , before the streets of the protagonists dart in the direction of the videogame tracks.
To be clear, it will only be after the first 45 minutes of viewing, at the end of a long catwalk of characters and background, that we will witness the historic entry into Villa Spencer. A too slow pace, perhaps, is one of the main defects that we attribute to the writing of Roberts' film, guilty of accelerating perhaps late and delving into somewhat superfluous elements, at the expense of other narrative twists that would have needed more breathing space.
A satisfying b-movie
If on the level of the script Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City we have aroused some complaints, we must instead admit that Roberts' work is valid for what concerns the visual apparatus.
The film faithfully reproduces the putrid and decadent atmospheres of the videogame counterpart and exploits them to transform them into a good genre cinema. We are finally faced with a cinematic incarnation of Resident Evil that fully embraces a grammar of horror, building minute by minute a crescendo that goes from latent tension to the purest zombie movie up to exquisitely splatter elements that, just as if you faced with a putrescent boss at the end of the game, characterize a somewhat hasty and stereotyped ending, but effective and functional to the tones of the story.
Everything is inserted in a frame that shouts unconditional love for the b-movie: it replicates its stylistic features, between a moderate dose of violence mixed with an at times experimental direction and a park of over-the-top characters, but does not reach its artistic heights. . Because this is what Resident Evil is: Welcome to Raccoon City: a film that exists as a faithful expression, both in tone and in language, of the original material, and which can only make sense for those looking for atmospheres within it, the characters and mythology of the Capcom saga. All the others, except for some aesthetic flickers, might consider it a zombie-themed b-movie a bit tired and vaguely stereotyped.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City recovers the spirit of a disturbing and over-the-top b-movie in which not everything is perfect, starting from a script that is not always in focus in terms of rhythm and characterization of the protagonists. However, it is a faithful transposition of the first two games of the Capcom saga, with some interesting visual flickers and some narrative license. Overall, Johannes Roberts' film lets itself be watched despite not being the most memorable of the cinematic tie-ins nor the best of the genre zombie movies: it is exactly in the middle, with the same grammar of horror and the mythology of the beloved. Capcom saga.