Resident Evil review: Netflix series aims high, falls short

Resident Evil review: Netflix series aims high, falls short

It can’t be easy being a fan of the Resident Evil franchise.

On one hand, you have an innovator, spanning generations demonic resident game franchise with a rich (if wildly complicated) history that shows no signs of slowing down. On the other hand, all that popularity has spawned countless low-quality spin-offs trying to capitalize on the demonic resident brand without channeling much (if any) of the franchise’s appeal.

Ella Balinska looks toward a door and sees a bloodied, handcuffed hand in a scene from Netflix's Resident Evil series.

That long-term cash hoarding is perhaps best exemplified by 10 demonic resident films that collectively rank as the highest-grossing film franchise based on a video game of all time, despite receiving abysmal reviews of fans and critics alike and average ticket sales just slightly better than him Paul Blart: Mall Police Serie. (Note: My 2017 review of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was positive, all things considered.)

And yet the studios just can’t quit demonic resident. After launching the something well received Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness anime series in 2022, Netflix returns with a live action demonic resident series that makes big changes to the source material and offers some interesting ideas, but never feels sure about the story it wants to offer.

his own thing

Lance Reddick stares at a scene from the Resident Evil series on Netflix.

Developed by Supernatural writer and co-showrunner Andrew Dabb, demonic resident it’s kind of a real reboot, out of the continuity of all the adaptations so far. It is also the most ambitious and risky. demonic resident project to date, filtering the history of the franchise through a convoluted story that takes place across two timelines and focuses more on the characters than the typical action-horror elements of the genre.

On a timeline demonic resident follows teenage siblings Jade and Billie Wesker (Tamara Smart and Siena Agudong, respectively), whose recent move to the pristine community of New Raccoon City with their scientist father, Dr. Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), is complicated by the layers of secrets that hang over them. his work for the Umbrella Corporation. The mystery of their father’s investigation, their own origins, Umbrella’s true motives, and the fate of the original Raccoon City loom over the sisters’ experiences in their new school and hometown, and the series explores the bond they develop as They face an increasingly dangerous world. ambient.

The other timeline in the series jumps 14 years into the future after the appearance of a mysterious biological weapon known as the T-Virus turned most of the human population into cannibalistic mutants and forced the few remaining humans into the planet to take refuge in walled and overcrowded cities. The now-adult Jade, played by Ella Balinska, travels the post-apocalyptic landscape in hopes of finding a cure for the T-Virus as she deals with the threat of the “Zeroes”, desperate gangs and sinister Umbrella agents.

A tale of two stories

Siena Agudong and Tamara Smart stand in front of lockers in a scene from the Resident Evil series.

While some shows can withstand the weight of multiple parallel yet interconnected storylines, the eight-episode first season of demonic resident he fights frequently, unbalancing in favor of one or the other at various points. The fact that the series is also unable to link the two timelines beyond sharing certain characters also leads to a disconnected vibe that hangs over the show, with the two unfolding storylines never feeling like they share a connection. emotional or tonal

That’s not to say that the two stories aren’t interesting. The above timeline offers a fun and creepy arc where Jade and Billie find themselves embroiled in a dark world of corporate conspiracies and dangerous science. That arc is further bolstered by strong performances from Reddick (Stripe, john wick) and Paola Núñez (bad boys for life, the purge), with the latter playing Umbrella president and CEO Evelyn Marcus, and offers a slow-paced story that builds on the more suspenseful and suspenseful aspects of demonic resident science.

Where the timeline of the past is based on mystery and tension slowly builds, the timeline of the future is a more conventional action-horror story in which Jade finds herself chased through the post-apocalyptic world by Umbrella and hordes of zombies. meat hungry zombies. It’s a fast-paced arc filled with gruesome moments and gory violence, with a tone that’s significantly more edgy (both in her action and humor) than her counterpart.

That the two timelines feel so different, and the transitions between them so jarring, is a symptom of both the series’ ambition and the difficulty it has in pulling off this dual narrative format.

bad is good

Lance Reddick and Paolo Nunez stand in a pristine white hallway in a scene from the Resident Evil series.

Reddick is always a compelling presence on any project, whether he’s appearing on screen or lending his instantly recognizable voice, and he’s particularly compelling as the conflicted Wesker, whose true loyalties (whether to his family, his research, or just himself). itself) remain uncertain. for much of the season. He brings a likeable element to the character that hasn’t been present in any previous iteration of Wesker (game, movie or otherwise) and over the course of the season the role demands a rank from him which is a good reminder why. he is so reliably entertaining on every project.

Nunez is equally fun to watch, throwing herself into one of the show’s most overtly villainous characters. Actors often insist that villains can be the most fun characters to play, and Nunez is clearly having fun with Umbrella’s megalomaniacal executive.

However, one of the most pleasant surprises on the show is the performance of Turlough Convery (ready player one) as evil Umbrella agent Baxter, whose ruthless brutality is only matched by his sick sense of humor. Like Nunez, Convery has a lot of fun with the role, but her character arc gives her more opportunities to chew up the stage. It’s a testament to both his performance and the character written for him that he delivers one of the most entertaining and joy-worthy scenes of the season despite being one of the most despicable characters on the show.

Turlough Convery stands atop a guard post in a scene from the Resident Evil series.

And if it seems like the villainous characters are the most interesting elements in demonic residentthat’s because it’s true.

hero problems

Sadly, the series’ focus on the Jade and Billie Wesker saga is also its biggest weakness.

Although Smart and Agudong do the best they can with the material, neither the young duo nor the couple who play their adult counterparts, Ella Balinska and Adeline Rudolph, make their respective stories as interesting. Whether it’s due to their characters’ frustratingly predictable bad decisions at every stage of life, or the actors’ inability to sell the increasingly bad decisions Jade and Billie make, demonic resident it becomes hard work whenever the story spends too much time with its main characters.

And the more time you spend exploring your characters, the smoother and more predictable they become.

A new approach to an aging franchise

Ella Balinska holds a gun and flashlight in the dark in a scene from the Resident Evil series.

It will be interesting to see how demonic resident fans are reacting to the Netflix series, which also makes some bold leaps by reimagining the source material in new ways.

the story in demonic resident takes many liberties with the game franchise’s established (and yes, confusing) canon, inserting elements from the games into the series’ narrative in unexpected ways. Familiar characters, organizations, and other cornerstones of the games make appearances on the show, subtly woven into the story in some cases and conspicuously embedded in others. The fact that these items often appear in forms that have little or no connection to the games’ lore is sure to leave some fans conflicted about the series and whether it’s truly true to its source material.

A hooded figure holding a bloody chainsaw stands in the middle of prison cells in a scene from the Resident Evil series.

However, those who are willing to watch the series with a more open mind should not worry about its app. demonic resident lore of the game What they are You’ll likely find it hard to digest the series’ frustratingly disconnected tone as it twists, perhaps too often, back and forth in time.

In his favor, demonic resident takes big risks, from the casting of the series to its story and how to tell it. The Netflix series is unlike any big or small screen adaptation of the franchise we’ve seen thus far and features some strong and memorable performances from its cast. Still, considered as a whole, it’s hard to call the series a success. Despite the game franchise’s winning streak, the universe of demonic resident adaptations is still looking for bona fide critical and commercial success. This series suggests it’s not quite there yet, but it’s the closest this corner of the franchise has come so far.

netflix series demonic resident premieres July 14 on the streaming service.

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