Before you say it, I was more than aware that the Resident Evil: Welcome to Racoon City trailer released over three weeks ago, but I had taken a brief hiatus from Hollywood North Magazine during its release. Given that I have already critiqued the first images revealed for this video game adaptation/reboot, it seems only fair that I do the same for the trailer.
For those who have read my critique of the first batch of images, you’ll know that I was quite critical of the tacky lighting in one, while another featured low lighting and had poor resolution as a result. I was much more positive of the third image, which showcased a haunting image of a victim of the Umbrella Corporation’s experimentation, and thankfully the trailer lives up to (most of) the promise of this image, not to mention the storied horror franchise as a whole.
Most striking is the movie’s clear faithfulness to the source material. Fans of the series will no doubt notice the trailer’s very deliberate selection of footage, which showcases many areas from the first two entries in the Resident Evil video game franchise, including the Spencer Mansion, the R.C.P.D. station and its underground parking lot, as well as glimpses at what is surely the Umbrella Corporation’s subterranean lab facility. If all this doesn’t already have fans salivating like a blood-thirsty zombie, the trailer also highlights the most popular monsters of the series, such as the dreaded Licker (shown at the end of the trailer, highlighting its mascot-like significance to the franchise), Lisa Trevor (who was featured in the strongest of the three promotional images mentioned above), virus-infected dogs knows as Cerberus’, and what is likely the very first zombie to be seen in the movie, as the footage pays clear homage to the original Resident Evil’s own first reveal of the undead.
The trailer is a treasure trove of easter eggs designed to turbo-charge the franchise’s fanbase in anticipation for its release, especially considering that the previous Paul W. S. Anderson/Mila Jovovich cinematic instalments devolved into a bastardisation that bore little resemblance to the video games other than its title. Sure, characters from the video games appeared, but took a back seat to Jovovich’s Alice, who was created solely for the film adaptations. Johannes Roberts, on the other hand, is very clearly a fan of the franchise and understands the potential for a movie that is adapting one of the most popular video game franchises of all time, and that there is a real demand for wish fulfilment amongst the fanbase, especially after Capcom’s more recent remakes of classic Resident Evil games, which are unabashedly cinematic in their own right.
Not everything about the trailer hits the mark, though. One of my greatest concerns is the cinematography, which hearkens back to the aforementioned first images released of the film. While it is of course professionally produced with a big budget, there are a noticeable number of shots that feel quite flat and it largely comes down to the lighting, which can be overly saturated, removing some of the intended kineticism from the trailer. Perhaps more concerning again are the special effects, which ranges from being tacky to outright bad. The final shot of the Licker is the most impressive of any instance of effects in the trailer, but everything that precedes it, including when it initially drops from the ceiling, failed to impress. Even the oil truck tipping over – yet another nod to the video games – fails to convince, and if something as tangible as that cannot do so, then how can we expect it of the CGI monsters! Admittedly, this is still a horror/action hybrid (with emphasis on the former), and while I am hardly expecting Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City reinvent the wheel for either genre, there are still certain bars that should be met to deliver the movie that fans deserve.
In spite of this, the first trailer for Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is certainly promising, and each actor seems to be well-cast in their roles. This is especially true of Kaya Scodelario and Canada’ Robbie Amell, who look every bit the parts of sibling protagonists Claire and Chris Redfield, while Vancouver actor Avan Jogia might not be the fit blonde-haired, blue-eyed appearance of Leon S. Kennedy from the video games, but crucially, he seems to embody Leon’s hard-wired heroism, which should prove Jogia to be an inspired piece of casting.
Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is slated for release on November 24th.