New Resident Evil movie promises “an official origin story adaptation with faithful ties to Capcom’s classic survival horror games”. (So, nothing like the Paul W S Anderson version, then.)
It’s hard to know what to do for the best with video game movie adaptations, isn’t it? You can try and recreate the game faithfully, and it’ll turn out rubbish. So you try and create a vague representation of the game, instead, and it’ll still turn out rubbish.
Look, when Dwayne Johnson’s Rampage is one of the highest-rated video game movies on Rotten Tomatoes, you know it’s bad. (It was the highest, until it was dethroned by Detective Pikachu and Sonic the Hedgehog.)
Super Mario Bros., Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Doom, Silent Hill, Hitman, Max Payne, Tomb Raider, Need for Speed, Hitman (again), World of Warcraft, Assassin’s Creed, Tomb Raider (again) – they’re all just so rubbish. But one of the most egregious is the Resident Evil series, a joint effort from developer/publisher Capcom and production company Screen Gems.
It started with Resident Evil in 2002, with Milla Jovovich in the lead role as Alice, a character not present in the video game franchise. That’s your first warning. Instead of it being a claustrophobic, contained story in the Spencer Mansion, it takes place in a massive, high-tech underground research facility, with the antagonist apparently a Shodan-like AI called the Red Queen. Warning number two. And Alice must help a bunch of soldiers – including Michelle Rodriguez as the Obligatory Spicy Latina™ – to escape. Oh, and Alice, as it turns out, is some sort of super-soldier with amnesia. Warning the third.
Other than the company being called Umbrella, the virus being called the T-Virus, the fact it features some familiar nasties (the dogs and the licker), and the rich bloke from Ugly Betty turning into Nemesis at the end, it has practically nothing at all to do with Resident Evil.
Somehow, inexplicably, it spawned no less than five sequels. They’re all rubbish, honestly just as awful as the first one, but they do at least feature some characters from the Resident Evil games, including Jill Valentine, Carlos Oliveira, Claire Redfield, Chris Redfield, Barry Burton, Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Albert Wesker.
Now, almost two decades later, we’re trying to get a Resident Evil movie right again. A news story on Deadline Hollywood has revealed the involved parties in a Resident Evil reboot, including writer/director Johannes Roberts, best known for the shark thriller 47 Meters Down. Speaking to Deadline, Roberts says:
“With this movie, I really wanted to go back to the original first two games and re-create the terrifying visceral experience I had when I first played them whilst at the same time telling a grounded human story about a small dying American town that feels both relatable and relevant to today’s audiences.”
That certainly sounds promising compared to the amnesiac super-soldier nonsense Paul W S Anderson was shovelling. The Resident Evil series has such a rich seam of over-the-top horror to mine, it’s bewildering that Anderson deviated from the script so much, and yet, came up with something equally over-the-top and so much worse.
The cast reveal for the Resident Evil movie reboot is similarly positive, featuring a host of fan-favourite characters from the video game series, without being weighed down by the likes of a Jovovich, Jolie or Fassbender in a singular lead role.
- Claire Redfield – Kaya Scodelario (The Maze Runner trilogy; Skins)
- Jill Valentine – Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp; Ready Player One)
- Chris Redfield – Robbie Amell (Upload; The Tomorrow People)
- Albert Wesker – Tom Hopper (The Umbrella Academy; Black Sails)
- Leon Kennedy – Avan Jogia (Zombieland: Double Tap; Tut)
- William Birkin – Neal McDonough (Minority Report; Band of Brothers)
I mean, it could still be terrible. The history of video game movie adaptations is still not on their side. But at least the Resident Evil movie reboot sounds like they’re doing it right, this time.