Netflix’s ‘Resident Evil’ TV Show Looks Nothing Like ‘Resident Evil’


Resident Evil Netflix

Credit: Netflix

Well the first trailer for the Netflix adaptation of Resident Evil looks genuinely awful. It looks like Netflix spoofing itself, living up to the memes the company has been generating lately for its terribly unfaithful adaptations of beloved franchises.


A few things about this trailer.

First of all, this looks like a CW show. This looks like the Batwoman equivalent of Resident Evil and I mean that with every portion of scorn I can muster.

Second, this simply doesn’t look at all like Resident Evil.

Engadget’s headline for that publication’s post about the trailer reads: “Netflix’s live-action ‘Resident Evil’ trailer shows a zombie apocalypse, obviously” but this is exactly the problem: Resident Evil isn’t about a zombie apocalypse. It never has been. The video game series is about zombie outbreaks that are, by definition, limited in scope.

Netflix appears to have missed this small detail, giving us instead a completely overrun London in 2036, hordes of zombies shambling across the ruined metropolis. Okay so maybe it’s just London—but even then, the scope is wrong for this franchise.

Like so many adaptations these days, Netflix’s Resident Evil appears to cast aside all the things that fans of the series have come to love, replacing them with things the showrunners and Netflix think a mythical new fandom has come to expect. We shouldn’t be surprised after the atrocity that was Kevin Smith’s He-Man remake.

I’m all for diversity, but you can achieve that while remaining true to the series a show is based off of. There is, in fact, a diverse cast of characters in the Resident Evil games already and you could easily expand on that for a show without just abandoning the series’ protagonists altogether.

Or, here’s a thought: write new shows and new stories rather than piggybacking endlessly on the success of established franchises, while gutting them of everything that made fans love them to begin with.

Look, the original Resident Evil games would make a terrific series or movie. The source material is fantastic and could translate easily into a tense, slow-paced horror outing filled with mystery and drama. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.

And yet time and time again, these adaptations are just plain bad, lacking vision or consistency and often missing the point of the source material altogether. Bad because the people making them just don’t seem to care at all about the the original stories or the fandom that made these stories popular in the first place. When the fans don’t show up and the show bombs, everyone involved acts surprised or blames the fans.

I’m not saying cater to every single whim of the fanbase or even that an adaptation has to be 100% faithful, but a little goes a long way, as Amazon’s Reacher has shown us. That’s a faithful adaptation of the first Jack Reacher novel. Its creators certainly had to make some changes in order to translate the written word to the small screen, but that’s okay. That’s inevitable. Fans can accept the realities and challenges of an honest adaptation.

What’s totally avoidable is taking something like Resident Evil or Halo and butchering them so completely that what remains is unrecognizable. And maybe if they were still halfway decent we’d have less of an issue, but they’re not. Paramount’s Halo is an unmitigated disaster—but it didn’t have to be. Resident Evil might surprise us all but I’m not optimistic.

Video game adaptations have been historically messy and disappointing with a few exceptions. Perhaps we should start hiring people who actually play and enjoy them to make them from now on (Henry Cavill as Geralt of Rivia in The Witcher is an exception to the rule, it seems).

But hey, Netflix seems intent on giving its subscriber base plenty of reasons to quit. Why not add this to the pile?

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