The Resident Evil franchise has tried to make direct adaptations of one of the most successful video games ever. From W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil movie franchise starring Milla Jovovich to the rebooted Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, it has absurdly over-the-top action that touches on the source material. The franchise has also tapped into other mediums, such as Netflix’s Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, and the streaming giant takes another shot at a live-action series that follows the characters, ideas, and locations, but with slight changes to fit a modern storyline. The new live-action series, Resident Evil doesn’t rehash the game’s specific narrative fare, but introduces new and legacy characters and puts together a story split into two different timelines.
The series follows the similar and yet, different story of Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) in 2022, as the Umbrella Corporation’s top executive in charge of overseeing the development of the pharmaceutical drug, Joy. Albert and his fraternal twin daughters, Billie (Siena Agudong) and Jade (Tamara Smart) move to New Raccoon City, a corporate-owned city only exclusive to Umbrella employees. Evelyn Marcus (Paolo Nunez), the CEO of the company, is determined to fine-tune Umbrella’s multipurpose drugs that cure anxiety and depression and make billions of dollars for the company. However, Joy is derived from the T-Virus, which complicates things for Albert, who wants to keep them off the shelves and protect his family. The second timeline picks up 14 years later and follows Jade (Ella Balinska) as an adult after the world is overtaken by zombies, (or “zeroes”) and other gigantic creatures. A deadly virus caused a global outbreak, and Jade hopes to find a cure while evading the Umbrella Corporation.
Netflix’s Resident Evil uses the structure of flipping between the two timelines well, and by doing so, it creates a mounting sense of dread and suspense. These elements progressively show how Umbrella’s actions lead to the inevitable outbreak and into the future timeline, where adult Jade is trying to fix the sins of her father. But even when the episodes reveal the story bit by bit, there are a few details that are not completely uncovered. Resident Evil explains young Jade and Billie’s stories through the relationship with their father. The show tends to stay more focused and grounded by showing a different side of the iconic villain, as a family man, drawing his daughters’ blood and monitoring them. Through this current timeline, the story reveals the darker connections between Albert and Umbrella, and how he wanted things to be different, which unfortunately led to the future timeline’s global outbreak. Jade’s desperation to go back to her husband and daughter is a moving plot, but the viewers essentially know nothing about these characters. Her post-apocalyptic journey and evasion from the Umbrella Corporation aren’t fully explained either. All of these elements are strong and interesting world-building, but it seems like there aren’t many substances that make them compelling enough.
At the heart of the series is the relationship between Albert and his daughters. A family drama that captures the complicated relationship between their secretive and busy father, Billie and Jade try to fit into the New Raccoon City. When their rebellious nature turns into dangerous territories, eventually, the story turns into a father protecting his children. In the original franchise and game lore, Wesker is known as one of the villains, but the show somehow diverts away from it and creates a story all on its own. Resident Evil dives into the intriguing mystery about Albert and how he managed to survive. Secrets destroy families, and Albert has many that he keeps from his daughters. Reddick’s performance is phenomenal, and he steals every scene he is in, as he brings terrifying nature to his role. In one of the scenes, Wesker threatens an employee from Umbrella by not only getting him fired, but also getting him blacklisted from every company. He changes the setting and mood of the meeting immediately, and shows that he is the terrifying man who flexes his power and importance.
Resident Evil ups the stakes by introducing new monsters, which are bigger and mutated, and shows Jade and other characters in action sequences battling them out. The sprinting zombies and horrifying monsters invoke a survival-mode perspective, which is present in video games. Many scenes will make the viewers sit on the edge of their seats, as they watch the atmosphere change in every situation the characters are in. Even though some moments might be inconsistent and poorly choreographed, the show has great production value, and it shows how the showrunner and everyone else involved in this show is dedicated to the video games’ lore.
Overall, Resident Evil is fun, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Its universe has a rich history of characters, monsters, and villains. The show uses this rich mythos and pulls from it to create their own unique spin on this live-action adaptation. The show takes time to introduce the complex familial relationships, and these themes make this adaptation interesting to watch. There are many nail-biting, blood-soaked moments, and fans of the show and genre will enjoy these moments of apocalyptic messiness.
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