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Netflix's Resident Evil Series Has Screened For Critics, And Fans Of The Video Games' Mythos ​​May Want To Approach With Caution

Jade Wesker covered in blood in Resident Evil
(Image credit: Netflix)

Video game fans have had quite the rollercoaster ride when it comes to adaptations of Capcom’s landmark franchise Resident Evil. Opinions are still split about both the Paul W.S. Anderson/Milla Jovovich produced films, and the jury’s also still out on whether Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City truly is a flop or just a bop waiting to be reappraised. Prepare for the waters to get even rougher, as the anticipated Resident Evil Netflix series has officially screened for critics, and hardcore fans of the Raccoon City mythos may want to approach with caution.

Reactions for Resident Evil have been dropping today in honor of the debut of Season 1’s eight-episode run. Including stars like Lance Reddick, Ella Balinska and Paola Núñez among its cast, Netflix subscribers can now dig into the adventures of the Wesker family in 2022 and 2036. Starting with the review of Terry Mesnard at Gayly Dreadful, game and series canon seem to co-exist well enough:

…while it seemed like Supernatural-writer Andrew Dabb’s would be another compromised attempt to tell the story, Resident Evil manage to do the unthinkable. It somehow honors the original games while crafting its own future.

The balance between Resident Evil’s video game lore and showrunner Andrew Dabb’s new vision is something that’s consistently been discussed since the first trailers for the Netflix show debuted. For those who thought Lance Reddick’s casting in particular meant that the original stories were being discarded, nothing could be further from the truth. 

It appears that keeping the classic Resident Evil canon, including Albert Wesker’s volcanic demise, is a bit of a double-edged sword for some. Shaun Monro from Flickering Myth is in that camp, reacting to Season 1 with the following lament of just how much OG Umbrella shenanigans are present: 

Throughout this first season Albert Wesker is the single video game character to appear, while the events of the games – which are 100% canon here, it seems – are only fleetingly whispered about. And that will really be the series’ biggest hurdle for many; this could basically be any sci-fi horror series, so scarcely does it feel like it exists within the world of the Resident Evil we know.

Meanwhile, Slashfilm’s Barry Levitt seems to think that the balance between new puzzles and old scars isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, Resident Evil presents this as an opportunity to welcome everyone to New Raccoon City, as Levitt states in this excerpt from his overall review: 

…this new Netflix series tells a new story that both longtime franchise devotees and newcomers alike can enjoy. It of course borrows some familiar elements, largely things like the Umbrella Corporation, Raccoon City, the T-virus, and the one and only Albert Wesker, so those with previous "Resident Evil" knowledge can probably see what's coming a bit clearer, but the series is sure to pack some surprises.

Working with a franchise like Resident Evil is always a passport to utilizing a wide variety of stories, creatures and weapons to tell a story. Linking the canon of the games and series opens so many doors, which only leaves decision makers like Andrew Dabb with the question of what to use and when. Austen Goslin of Polygon doesn’t seem to think the process of breadcrumbing future Resident Evil entries is working out, as seen in this piece of criticism:

If this leaves longtime fans scratching their heads about a few very specific characters, Dabb says that’s by design and that those questions will be answered in time. Unfortunately, we have no indication of whether or not the series itself will be considered canon in the games, so even if this is the best reason to watch the show, it’s hard to imagine it as more than a fanfiction detour (this is particularly true considering that we have no indication that the world ends in 2036 in the games, a year that their canon is already one year past).

Lack of consensus about any Resident Evil entry is always par for the course. Even Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness has dedicated fans that appreciate what it’s trying to do. With that in mind, take a look at Meagan Navarro’s opinion from her Bloody Disgusting review: 

There’s no shortage of fantastical and ferocious creatures plucked straight from the games’ canon. How each gets incorporated ranges from entertaining fan service to thrilling deep cuts that’ll surprise and delight you. The series inserts these monsters in such an accessible way that working knowledge of the lore isn’t necessary; it works just as well as an insanely packed creature feature showcase.

With such a variety of opinions on Netflix’s Resident Evil present, it’s going to be a very interesting task to keep track of the reactions from fans binging the series as we speak. Joining the library of Netflix shows set to thrill and chill viewers, Season 1 of Resident Evil can now be streamed by those who seek it out. After you’ve completed that scenario, feel free to seek out further televised excitement through the 2022 TV schedule, which has plenty of options for horror and non-horror fans alike.

Mike Reyes
Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.