Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness Provides Insight But Lacks Purpose
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is finally available to stream on Netflix. Fans of Capcom’s iconic survival horror series were pleased to hear about a new series. Seeing that it would be CG and focusing on fan favorite characters was a big plus. This is on top of getting two new live action projects, one being another Netflix series with the other being a theatrical film. With the CG series being canon, it gave fans even more hope. Well, now that all four episodes are available to binge, we decided to give our thoughts on the series.
Taking place in 2006, Infinite Darkness is set two years after the events of Resident Evil 4. Leon S. Kennedy (Nick Apostolides) is still working for the President of the United States after saving his daughter, and his exploits are considered legendary by many of his peers. The White House is now dealing with a new crisis as a hacker breaches their security. To get to the bottom of the mystery, the government hires four elite agents to help, Leon included. Unfortunately for them, a zombie outbreak in the White House complicates things, only to discover a bigger conspiracy.
While things lean a bit more toward Leon, Claire Redfield (Stephanie Panisello) also returns for her own story. Working with TerraSave, Claire sees a child’s drawing that reminds her of the events of Raccoon City. This child is a survivor of a civil war that took place in the fictional country of Penamstan in 2000. While on her own quest to find the meaning of the drawing, she crosses paths with Leon and their stories begin to connect. New characters include Jason (Ray Chase) and Shen May (Jona Xiao), who play some of the other agents on the task force. The story does have some interesting content to fill in the gaps of the overall series, but it also feels pretty cliche. It also suffers from some pacing issues.
Infinite Darkness will feel reminiscent to past CG Resident Evil movies like Degeneration, Damnation, or even Vendetta. It’s a strange choice to make Infinite Darkness a four episode series when it’s roughly the same length as these previous films. Each episode is less than a half hour long, including intros, credits, and even replays to extend previous scenes. If the series was edited a bit and made into a feature length film, it would probably do better in the pacing department. It doesn’t help that characters tend to move from place to place without getting a full explanation as to why.
On the plus side, the actors all perform pretty admirably with each of their characters. Nick Apostolides and Stephanie Panisello reprise their roles from the Resident Evil 2 remake, doing an excellent job once again. Nick does especially well, feeling like a more mature rendition of the character, even sounding closer to Matthew Mercer (who voiced the character in Resident Evil 6 and previous films). It’s a huge difference from the rookie cop he played in the 2019 remake. Ray Chase, Jona Xiao, Doug Stone, and even the late Brad Venable give it their all, and it shows. Even the Japanese performers sound great, though the lip syncing is all for the English audio.
While the voice work is all great, the sound mixing does have some issues. The most notable issue comes from gunfire, which for some reason shoots the volume incredibly high. I was often turning my volume up to hear dialogue between characters, only to turn it back down when shooting breaks out. Sometimes, the voices even have inconsistency with their volume. This may be an issue with working during a pandemic, but it would’ve been nice to have a better balance with the audio.
As for the visuals, TMS Entertainment leaves their comfort zone of 2D animation for a full 3D production. While characters look pretty good, some elements do lack the same quality. The biggest issues are the zombies and other BOWs that show up throughout the plot. They just feel dated and look like they lack visual polish for a CG production in 2021. When the RE Engine shows impressive results in the games, it also manages to outshine Infinite Darkness in many ways. It doesn’t help that the animation seems stiff and somewhat disjointed, especially with faster movements. Even with this series using motion capture for the animation, it feels like it lacks life.
Perhaps the best thing to say about Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is how it fills the gaps in the series chronology. It’s great to see a lot of references to the games, from Resident Evil 4’s Ashley Graham to Resident Evil 5’s TRICELL. Sadly, this is also the undoing for the overall plot. This event never gets a reference throughout the rest of the franchise, and you would think a zombie outbreak in the White House would be big enough for its own game. It also doesn’t help that we know which characters survive, lowering the stakes for the viewer. Ideally, this would mean newcomers would have a better viewing experience. Unfortunately, if you’re not already a Resident Evil fan, there’s probably not a lot to enjoy here.
I was honestly really looking forward to this Netflix series. It was a chance for the series to deliver more story to fans in a new medium. Regrettably, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness just feels like an unnecessary CG movie broken up into four parts. It doesn’t take advantage of the TV series structure, and ultimately suffers with the pacing because of it. Even though the performances are fantastic, the overall presentation in the animation and audio bring the experience down. It’s still worth watching for a die-hard Resident Evil fan, but I can’t say the same for other viewers. Perhaps it’s better to make the CG movies to explain more of what’s going on after Resident Evil 6?
Final Score: 6 out of 10