With eight numbered games, seven films, many animated films and a series, also animated, we can say that the Biohazard saga, better known as Resident Evil for us Westerners, has managed to create its place in the pop culture. It is therefore difficult to renew and create in this already so codified universe. without attracting a horde of angry fans who don’t have to be ashamed of those around Star Wars. After a catastrophic (however funny) Welcome to Raccoon City last year, it is this time on the small screen and more precisely on Netflix that Resident Evil returns after a more than timid advertising campaign.
Welcome to New Raccoon City
The series opens with a monologue from the heroine, Jade, which doesn’t bode well for the show’s rigor mortis. After a (heavy) nod to 28 Days Later, the series lets us discover what sauce we are going to be eaten. The series, not having learned from the errors of the first season of The Witcher, decides to cut its narration on two temporalities: 2022 and 2036. The first makes us find a teenager Jade moving to New Raccoon City with her twin sister Billie and his father…Albert Wesker. I let you digest the information by approaching the second, 2036, where we follow Jade’s adventures in 2036 after the classic zombie apocalypse of…everything but Resident Evil?
Bi(polar)ohazard: Resident Evil
The series bogs down heavily in incessantly alternating between these two eras, leaving no time for the viewer to become involved in the events depicted. In its worst moments, Resident Evil makes two or three round trips in just a few minutes. This makes the rhythm completely choppy (read the last word again and go wash your mouth with soap) in addition to not fulfilling its scriptwriting role. A flashback is often used to respond to a problem or a theme of the present (Lost excels in the field for example), this is only rarely the case here and we find ourselves tossed between two eras without really making sense. We could imagine saying that the series has mutated into two separate parts, but we are no longer facing a very virulent case of Plagas so much one of the two temporalities comes to parasitize the other of its mediocrity.
2036 is the temporality guaranteeing the action and the worst of the series. The narrative stakes are low and we link the adventures without tail or head in action scenes sometimes successful, sometimes not. (depending on the sleep time of these poor graphic designers). Resident Evil having never depicted a global apocalypse, one wonders why the series forces so much to integrate one when it has nothing to offer in the story. Especially since the other temporality has things to offer.
We are twin sisters
Let’s evacuate the subject immediately: Yes, Albert Wesker is played by the brilliant Lance Riddick who is not of the same ethnicity as Wesker in the games and it does not matter! The actor surely offers the best interpretation of the series. Now that this is done, one can be surprised to see an Albert Wesker, a single-parent father and owning a small dog, of course. But put away your virulent tweets, it’s not polite to interrupt someone who hasn’t finished talking. Because yes, this element of intrigue is there exactly for this reason, to make the fans wonder and surprise the laymen.
The two sisters at the center of the plot are, unfortunately, uninteresting, taking us into pretty unconvincing high school storylines. If we had to compare badly, we are quite far from characters like Jinx and Vi in the Arcane series who nevertheless approach the type of relationship they have. A missed opportunity knowing that Resident Evil (the games) often talk about family history.
Jade Wesker’s twin sister has a style inspired by Billie Eilish, is introduced with a song by Billie Eilish (Oxytocin) and is called…Billie, funny.
A curiously faithful adaptation
Resident Evil is truer than it looks and incorporates a few elements from the games into its plot to create mystery and that’s the best part of the series. Without being perfect, the 2022 timeline knows how to intrigue the viewer about the secrets of the Wesker twins and their father. We are often surprised there and the desire to see the rest points the tip of our nose. Also, the use of Resident Evil lore is used in a smart way without falling into too much outright fan service (unlike 2033!). A real good surprise in an adaptation that was scary in spite of itself until then.
Goodbye mansions, hello beaches
On the artistic direction side, it’s nothing. The production does not have unlimited funds and it shows. The series is limited to a few classic laboratories and beaches (mainly Dover and Calais). At no time do we find the claustrophobic atmosphere of the games, let alone the Victorian side of Spencer Manor or the Raccoon City police station. It is perhaps the greatest fault of taste of the series which flounders in the post-apocalyptic imagery seen and reviewed in the cinema and in the bland falsely futuristic vision made of immaculate white. Shame.
Hope for the future?
After the brain death that was the saga of Paul WS Anderson and the very funny Welcome to Raccoon City, there is good to be taken from this Resident Evil series. With the series leading us to believe that a season 2 is planned, we can only hope that it fixes its many problems, puts its qualities to good use and mutates into an adaptation worth watching without being a guilty pleasure. Finally, let’s be honest for a couple of minutes, Resident Evil (the game) has always been a sucker in terms of storyline. If a 100% faithful adaptation saw the light of day, it would be classified just as much in the Z series as its elders, in addition to being a repeat of the games, which is not very interesting.