3 out of 5
Directed by: Eiichirō Hasumi
Look, man: I’ll take this. I’ll take infinite versions of it. We want our video games to be taken seriously, but… do we? A splashy movie isn’t necessarily going to get someone to go play the game, and if that splashiness is at the sacrifice of things that make the game what it is, is it worth it? Sure, it can be cool to see, but a billion million dollars to just have a franchise fall flat on the big screen only serves to cast a shadow across future endeavors, and summarizing 30-40 campaigns (or franchises) into palatable 90-minute runtimes is already difficult enough.
The small screen is a good step, then, but when you get to some wackier, less grounded stuff like Resident Evil, live action may just equal budgeted effects and a cheeseball tone.
So… why not just give us our CG cutscenes as a a TV show? Why waste time making an Indiana Jones remake as Uncharted with questionable casting when Naughty Dog could just wow the heck out of us with 30 minute episodes akin to the scenes we enjoyed watching the game already?
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is very video gamey. It’s also very Resident Evil-y. That means it’s often silly, with some hammy dialogue, and with big ol’ plot decisions that don’t make a lot of sense. Game animation is at a point now where it’s a slick joy to watch, although there’s still a bit of a misfire with some more difficult textures like hair and wrinkly clothing, and eye contact is a bit naff. But we have government conspiracies, nasty corporations, underground labs, vicious rats, bloody explosions, headshots, and a big ol’ boss character. Darkness is injected somewhere within the RE timeline such that Leon and Claire are here, and the world has awareness of zombies and Raccoon City, and you could call that a barrier to entry, I guess, but if we have Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson to thank for anything, it’s that Umbrella Corp. and their bioweapons are part of the cultural lexicon enough such that my dad gets the gist, and could easily watch this 4-episode series without missing a beat.
Is it good? I mean, it’s definitely not bad, although the way the timeline flashes back and forth to detail its covert-op-gone-wrong feels somewhat unnecessary, mysterifying its total 2-hrs just to add padding, when the story is easy enough to guess from the first couple of scenes, and, as mentioned, it’s pretty cheeky, with some decisions definitely lending themselves to a couple of thudding Why Would You Do That?s. But the show also smartly doesn’t lampshade this stuff, and instead sticks to its guns (hyuck) of maintaining the tone of the games: it takes itself just seriously enough to elicit good acting (within context) and a “logical” flow to the story. Most importantly: it’s fun.
Now, I don’t know if I’d watch some 22- or 13-episode variation on this; even ten episodes would be a stretch. But if you give me 4- or 6-episode bites of this kind of stuff, heck, I’m not even an RE fan, but I am sure I will be down to watch iteration after iteration of secret backroom virus dealings and mutant freako outbreaks.