For the record, I have never actually played a Resident Evil video game. I have, however, watched them being played from the same sofa, and have gotten invested in them the same way you get invested in a very long slow TV show where zombies and Lickers can lunge out and chew on an identifiable main character. I am also moderately well-versed in the series’ lore, and I’ve watched the CGI anime movies. So I think I have at least a middling understanding of the franchise.
And I hate the movies.
Honestly, the movies feel like a thirteen-year-old girl’s fan-fiction, where the beloved main characters either do not exist, or are hollow inept sidekicks to the glorious all-powerful and beautiful Mary Sue. That is what Alice felt like to me. It also felt like Paul W.S. Anderson – who has produced maybe two adequate movies in his entire career – was making plots up based on other popular movies, and just slapping on superficial aspects of the video games to justify the name “Resident Evil.”
So I was pretty thrilled when I heard that they were going to be producing a Resident Evil TV series, because this was a chance to get it right. A fresh start! Maybe it would be something more faithful to the original games, with the Redfields, Leon Kennedy, Jill Valentine and Ada Wong.
Then… I read the information about it. It’s not about those characters. It’s about Albert Wesker’s made-up-for-this-TV-show-exclusively twin daughters, and we have more post-apocalyptic crap, just like in the movie series. As the final slap in the face, it’s being made by the same production company that gave us those crappy movies, executive-produced by a woman whose most notable success was Harriet the Spy, and written by some guy who’s given us about fifty million episodes of Supernatural. There’s really nothing to be optimistic about here.
I don’t know why it’s so hard for them to just make a good Resident Evil movie. I know that until Detective Pikachu you were lucky to get even a mediocre video-game movie, but… these movies already have their plots and characters sketched out for the filmmakers. Literally all you have to do is reshape the plot into a three-act structure, streamline the obstacles and quests, and add some dialogue. Voila! Movie!
And look at the characters! The characters of these games are iconic – not quite to the level of Mario, but they’re well-known and well-loved. I would love to see a movie about Leon Kennedy, Claire and Chris Redfield, Ada Wong and Jill Valentine. But in the movies, they’re either nonexistent or turned into pathetic defanged temporary sidekicks for the new characters that nobody likes.
I don’t care about Alice, no matter how much Paul W.S. Anderson wants me to because she was played by his wife. I don’t care about Albert Wesker’s newly-invented-for-this-TV-show daughters. I want Leon, Claire, Chris, Ada and Jill! JUST ADAPT THE GAMES! THE ONES FANS LIKE! But no, they’re doing the exact same thing that they did before – no attempt to make something that reflects the actual games that fans love to this day.
That’s why I’ve mostly stuck to watching the CGI anime movies based on the video games. They’re not perfect, and some of the CGI has aged, but it’s certainly better than the films.
I found out some utterly wonderful news last night. You see, there are actually two Resident Evil TV shows being produced. One is the above idiocy I whined about for so long. But there is another – a CGI anime being released on Netflix, which stars Leon and Claire… and which actually looks like a survival horror story. With an emphasis on “horror.”
And it looks… really good. Obviously you can’t tell quality from a minute-long trailer that is mostly Claire walking around an empty room, but the animation is good, the atmosphere is good, and it has Claire and Leon.
(I know Resident Evil games can have other protagonists, like the last game, but the adaptations should probably stick with established characters for the time being. Especially since the last original protagonist in an adaptation was… very very bad.)
Even better, I found out that they are rebooting the Resident Evil movies later this year… and while I can’t speak to the quality of the adaptation yet, the characters are Leon, Jill, Ada and the Redfields, it takes place in the 90s like the original game, and it’s apparently based on the first couple of games. I’m more cautious about this because… well, video game movies are almost always bad, mediocre at best, so I’m not going to get my hopes up. But the fact that it isn’t the Further Adventures Of Alice Doing Whatever She’s Doing really makes me hope it’s good and successful.