The 'Resident Evil' franchise is back on the scene yet again but if you're willing to commit to this fresh interpretation, you might find yourself being won over.
The year is 2036 and Jade Wesker (Ella Balinska) is attempting to survive in a world that is overrun with blood-thirsty infected and mind-shattering creatures. Backtrack to 14 years earlier in the present day, she (the younger version of the character is played by Tamara Smart) and her sister Billie (Siena Agudong) join their father Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick), as they move into an enclosed community in New Raccoon City. It's all part of their father's work with The Umbrella Corporation, as the mysterious pharmaceutical giant is on the cusp of launching a new drug, Joy, in order to combat a retrovirus. Both 'Resident Evil' timelines play out in tandem, as Jade attempts to stay alive in the future, while also caring for her half-sister in the past as her father becomes increasingly involved in the shady organisation.
Unlike the string of sub-par movies bearing the 'Resident Evil' moniker starring Milla Jovovich, this adaptation should be seen more favourably by fans of the video game series. While certainly far from being a scene-for-scene replica, this Netflix effort blends in core elements from the multi-million franchise and fabricates it into a somewhat enjoyable TV series. It's quite surprising that it's actually taken this long for a series to be made, as the storyline easily lends itself so to being told over multiple seasons (which is probably what Netflix have in mind).
Just like the franchise on which its based, this is survival horror. Jade's future ventures sees her travelling in a party of one, a lone survivor on the hunt for answers about the infected. With a husband and young daughter to think about, she's out there slinging zombies and their monster spawn like there's no tomorrow. The time spent with future Jade is where the series sits best; big action sequences, dastardly bad guys (shout out to Irish actor Turlough Convery), peppered with quieter (and scarier) first-person elements.
Fans of the video games will be happy to hear that yes, there are monsters from the franchise that show up to cause destruction, and to be honest, they're fairly accurate in their representation - meaning that they're pretty damn horrifying. We won't ruin which beasts will cross your path, but let's just say you won't be licking your screen in anticipation when they appear. We're also treated to a particularly impressive CGI mammoth of a monster right off the bat, showcasing the level of effort gone into making this TV series adaptation as flashy as possible.
But that's not to say that the series hasn't got its downfalls. Initially, there's a whiff of 'The Walking Dead' off the future storyline, which makes it feel like we're treading familiar ground here yet again - another zombie apocalypse, another large body count by the end of the first four episodes. The dialogue can also be bog-standard in parts, while some of the characters' reactions could be more believable.
The present-day suffers from being a little on the dry side. The two young leads are hard to warm to, both rebellious teens who hate their father, and aren't really much else. Once Paola Núñez shows up as Umbrella CEO Evelyn Marcus, however, the storyline becomes instantly more interesting. We all love a crazed, power-hungry woman, right? In order to understand the whole evil Umbrella Corporation/Albert Wesker origin, we're going to have to watch it, as presumedly there's going to be a bigger pay-off further along the season.
On the whole, we were surprised by how much we found ourselves getting bitten by this new 'Resident Evil' universe. Having only four episodes of the eight-episode season on hand before release, this reviewer found themselves becoming more invested as the umbrella expanded. Make it past the first two beige episodes, and you could just find yourself a 'Resident Evil' title to become invested in - finally.