Resident Evil (2022) Review
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
No other video game franchise has been more persistent than Resident Evil regarding film adaptations. From six live-action films starring Milla Jovovich, several animated films/shows, a film reboot in 2021, and now a live-action series released on Netflix on July 14th.
As a fan of the video games, I have been wary of any announcement of a live-action adaptation of Resident Evil as I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of the last live-action film series aside from the first entry in 2002 and last year’s Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. While very goofy, the 2021 film was a fun B-Movie akin to the early Playstation games of the franchise.
So with Netflix dropping Resident Evil (2022), it honestly could have gone both ways as this series is a completely fresh take on the long-running survival horror franchise. It isn’t connected to past live-action films and would even take elements from the game’s canon. Unfortunately, after watching the first season, this was by far one of the most bafflingly adaptations of a video game property to date.
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Itchy But Not Tasty
Resident Evil follows two separate storylines; one set in 2022 and another set in the future of 2036. Both follow our protagonist Jade Wesker (played by Tamara Smart in 2022 and Ella Balinska in 2036) as she deals with the horrors of the sinister Umbrella Corporation.
The 2022 storyline is about a teenage Jade and her half-twin sister Billie (Siena Agudong) moving to ‘New Raccoon City’ with their father Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) as he now works for Umbrella on an experimental anti-depressant unsubtly called Joy. The 2036 storyline follows Jade, now an adult and a parent, surviving a post-apocalypse world ravaged by the T-Virus as she is pursued by Umbrella while working on a solution to the zombies (called ‘Zeroes’ in this series for some reason).
First I want to get the good out of the way as I really did not want to hate this show. When it was first announced and seeing a lot of toxic manbabies saying some vile stuff about the casting (which was the same crap said about ‘Welcome to Racoon City’), I wanted to root for this series as I think the idea could have merit with the two timeline narrative structure and the inspired casting of Lance Reddick as the iconic villain Albert Wesker.
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So first off I will praise Reddick as overall he was the best thing about Resident Evil (2022). In the series, it is actually revealed that Alber Wesker (who I will refer to as Wesker) cloned himself to create a team of scientists to work on his research (most likely the Oroboros virus from Resident Evil 5 as his death via volcano was mentioned) which consisted of our focus version who I’ll name Albert, a dorky clone named Bert, and a meek clone named Al.
Resident Evil (2022) follows the Albert clone and I will commend the writers for having their cake and eating it as while Albert is not the egomaniacal villain from the games, Reddick gives us a more grounded and complex Wesker as a scientist working for a company as corrupt as Umbrella and how it has bent into while trying to have a sliver of ethics. Plus we do get to see him as the traditional Wesker and while the costuming could’ve been better (it genuinely looked like a Blade cosplay), he had an aura of menace that is classic Wesker through and through.
I also wanna give praise to the show’s effects. We get some pretty great practical and digital effect work throughout the series. Some examples include the gnarly-looking zombies to the various T-Virus-infected monsters. Speaking of monsters one sequence I will say is absolutely stellar was in episode 3 involving the classic Resident Evil monsters; The Lickers. Most of it was filmed in a single shot (or at least edited that way) and had a great amount of action and tension. Sadly this is where my positivity towards Resident Evil (2022) ends.
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The biggest issue with this series is the writing and presentation. Look Resident Evil as a franchise has always had campy writing but it has evolved in terms of the games. Sure the original games are infamous for corny dialogue, but that was the late 90s. If you look at the modern entries such as Resident Evil 7: Biohazard and Resident Evil Village (even Resident Evil 4 to an extent) there is a level of self-awareness to the camp and adds a playfulness to the horror experience.
In Resident Evil (2022), however, the dialogue lacks that self-awareness and really comes across as adults trying to capture the tone of what Millennials and Gen Z sound like on Twitter into actual dialogue. What rubs me the wrong way about using the past games’ dialogue as a crutch is that times have changed since those original entries and they had the benefit of using the gameplay the ensure the horrific atmosphere is still there.
The writing also hurts any likeability towards the characters. While Lance Reddick was thankfully spared, our protagonist Jade Wesker from both timelines was not, this also goes for the supporting cast. No one really talks like a real person and what some characters actually say become laughable at points. This hurts any investment in these characters and makes me just look forward to whatever weird nonsense they’ll say.
Another major issue with the show as mentioned before is the presentation and what kind of story it wants to tell. As mentioned earlier the plot of Resident Evil (2022) focuses on two storylines at different points in time. While this could be an interesting structure to tell the overarching narrative, what ruins it is that both of them are painfully dull and uninteresting in their own way.
Resident Evil (2022) suffers the same issues as the past live-action Resident Evil films in that they overfly focus on the “Umbrella is the ultimate evil” conspiracies and are centered on a zombie apocalypse setting (which never happens in the games). Sure Umbrella is a major focus of the games, but the main focus is usually just surviving the monsters themselves.
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In this series, the past storyline is a really generic teen drama akin to a CW series with a corporate conspiracy involving Umbrella while the storyline in the future is just a generic zombie apocalypse story with some monsters. What makes it worse is major events happen at a snail’s pace and there are barely any horrific moments in this series aside from a few set pieces. I was very bored watching this series and was just waiting for either monsters or some silly dialogue.
Do Not Enter The Survival Horror
I really didn’t want to drag this series across the coals. I was hoping we could get something cool as it seemed the cast and crew were very enthusiastic about the series along with there always being the potential of anything being good. Sadly Resident Evil (2022) is just another example of the difficulties of adapting video games to other media with this series having terrible writing and a lackluster story.
Have You Watched Resident Evil (2022)?
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