Film review: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

, Film review: Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Nzuchi Times National News

Seventh chapter in the franchise has little to recommend it. There aren’t even any raccoons!

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With its lack of meaningful plot, and a roster of characters with lovely hair, pretty faces and forgettable personalities, Welcome to Raccoon City plays more like an extended cut of a shampoo commercial than the latest chapter in a long-running action-horror franchise. Resident Evil : Now with 100% less Jovovich!

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The series began in 2002, and is based on the wildly popular video game series from 1996. There have been eight chapters including the original, with sequels subtitled Apocalypse, Extinction, Back in Training, Afterlife, Retribution, City Under Siege and The Final Chapter . (Also, kudos if you knew there were only six and were able to pick out the titles I borrowed from the Police Academy franchise.)

Raccoon City marks the inevitable reboot, which is another way of saying that almost no one involved in the original films is part of this one. Writer/director Johannes Roberts ( 47 Meters Down ) based his screenplay on elements from the first and second installments of the game, with most of the action set in 1998. That means no smartphones. In fact, one of the characters gets a pager message that leads to a clue on a Palm Pilot. If only he’d responded by fax!

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After a strange, spooky prelude years earlier in the Raccoon City orphanage, the film gets rolling with Claire Redfield (Kaya Scodelario) hitchhiking back into the town where she grew up. Her brother Chris (Robbie Amell) still lives there and works as a cop, part of a ragtag group of officers that includes Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), Wesker (Tom Hopper), the crusty chief (Donal Logue) and the rookie (Avan Jogia).

Raccoon City is a veritable ghost town, run by an evil pharmaceutical firm that’s been poisoning the drinking water for years. So it’s hardly a surprise when a zombie outbreak occurs – the municipality even has a warning siren to let people know all hell is about to break loose, and to tell them to please stay inside.

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The action is all packed into one eventful evening, with a ticking-clock subplot and a whole lot of people getting saved by a well-timed bullet from someone else’s gun. There are also all manner of monsters, until one scene basically comes down to a creepy thing fighting an even creepier thing.

Full disclosure: I’ve never seen even a single installment of Resident Evil , mostly due to the fact that the studios seldom made them available for critics to review ahead of opening. But based on this chapter, and reverse-calculating the law of diminishing returns, I can confidently suggest that the first Resident Evil was a fine motion picture. But number 7 might have been better titled Resident Evil: Bottom of the Barrel .

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City opens Nov. 24 in cinemas.

1.5 stars out of 5

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