Resident Evil review: Netflix’s attempt to tidy up games and movies

Resident Evil can be just about anything. The long-running series, which began as a video game in 1996, has an elastic world that has successfully accommodated everything from zombies and sea monsters to secret agents and powerful psychics without ever caring too much about complex explanations. However, the biggest surprise of the new Netflix resident Evil series from creator Andrew Dabb (Supernatural) is its careful devotion to the show’s weird and often falsified canon – and how boring the show is as a result.

by Netflix resident Evil The series follows Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) through two different time periods. The first is in 2022, when, at age 14 (this version played by Tamara Smart), she and her twin sister, Billie (Siena Agudong), and their father, Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), one of the most important to the Resident Evil franchise, move to New Raccoon City for his continued work with the sleazy Umbrella Corporation. The show’s second period takes place in 2036, after the world has been overrun by zombies who first appeared in New Raccoon City…in 2022.

The earlier timeline is the one that works best for Resident Evil. At its most entertaining, it’s a simple Netflix teen series – some of the platform’s most enjoyable content, but never the best – with a few light horror elements thrown over the top. Reddick is great as an overworked genius dad who can’t get away from work long enough to parent, and teenage girls Jade and Billie are fun as sisters with very different personalities trying to fit in at a new school. .

One of the show’s best scenes comes early on when Albert has to bail Billie out after trouble at school. Reddick’s Wesker shows up, grants his power and importance to Umbrella, and terrifies the other parent into giving up on the issue altogether. Albert threatens to have the man not only fired from Umbrella, but also blacklisted to never work again, turning the tide of the meeting so completely that even the principal sits down to let him. his work. It’s all the bravado of the 90s video game that Wesker focused on dad mode, instead of the usual nefarious and diabolical storylines that game-Wesker invented. If this scene set the tone for the whole show, it could have been a fun offshoot and addition to the Resident Evil universe, but that’s more the exception than the rule.

Picture: Netflix

Jade lying on the ground but the view is turned so she is vertical

Picture: Netflix

An aerial view of Raccoon City

Picture: Netflix

Instead, the 2022 portion of the plot falls prey to the series’ race toward the inevitable outbreak, giving us less high school drama in favor of boring Umbrella shenanigans, especially since the premiere season continues. In the 2036 section of the story, things get a little weirder and a little worse for resident Evil. The world, we are told, is now occupied by 6 billion zombies and only a few hundred thousand humans. As Jade roams this world with Umbrella hot on her heels for reasons not fully explained, we get a brief tour of the postapocalypse.

Uninfected humans have divided the world into small kingdoms ruled by forces called things like the Brotherhood. At first it seems like an interesting setup for the show to give us a compelling world-building, but instead it mostly turns out to be recycled tropes, like religious fanatics, historians who want to preserve the old world, scrappers, and a totalitarian state with the only technology left – Umbrella, in this case.

Worse still, the dialogue in these sections is particularly awful, a potent combination of unnecessary exposition and awful jokes. Each of these flash-forwards also tends to end with a dull, lifeless action scene, so even if the show did stumble upon an interesting character in 2036, their fate would be a foregone conclusion.

Despite all these issues and the fact that it’s just not fun to watch, it looks like Netflix resident Evil show can serve some sort of purpose. For hardcore Resident Evil fans, the series offers interesting explorations of a world that has been changed and abandoned more than once by series publisher Capcom.

Jade and an Umbrella Corp employee struggle to get by;  he is behind her shooting a gun, as she wields a chainsaw

Picture: Netflix

According to Dabb, the series takes place in the same world as the games. Everything that happened in the canon entries of Resident Evil (which is a complicated web to unravel on its own) happened here. If that leaves longtime fans scratching their heads about a few very specific characters, Dabb says that’s by design and those questions will be answered in time. Unfortunately, we have no indication as to whether or not the series itself will be considered canon in games, so while that’s the best reason to watch the series, it’s hard to imagine it as more only a detour from fanfiction (this is especially true considering that we have no indication that the world ends in 2036 in the games, a year when their canon has already passed one year).

Resident Evil as a franchise is at its best when treated more like a toy box than a revered IP. You can take out a Wesker here, a zombie there, or you can just create a weird story and throw some Umbrella logos on the end. It’s an approach that has worked for both Paul WS Anderson’s incredibly entertaining six-movie series and the numbered Resident Evil games. Resident Evil is not exactly The twilight zone; there’s a definite sense of shared universe and a few loose rules. But the best entries let good ideas transport them to interesting and scary places, canon be damned (in the case of the last two games, those places were a Louisiana swamp and a cursed Eastern European village ruled by a competing clan of monsters).

But instead of using the world as a loose justification for the weird horrors lurking around the corner, the Netflix series spends most of its time desperately trying to justify its own existence in the Resident Evil™ universe. and no one is building a new story worth caring about. .