It’s Like Watching A Resident Evil Game
When Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness was announced there really wasn’t a whole lot of TV being publicized at the time. So it was a pretty big deal to see beloved protagonists Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield, the franchise leads in Resident Evil 2, brought back for an animated series.
Written and directed by Eiichiro Hasumi, it’s composed of four 30-minute episodes that honestly could have just been a made-for-TV movie. We get to delve into the worlds of Leon and Claire just after Resident Evil 4 yet just before Resident Evil 5. Now, I’ve longed for a game that delves into Leon’s personality. He’s almost always portrayed as a reluctant cowboy-archetype trying his best to stop the end of the world while looking pretty stylish in his execution. I’ve also wanted to see what Claire had been up to post RE2/Code: Veronica, and perhaps, see her grow as someone who’s doing more than just chasing after Umbrella in the shadows of her brother.
Instead, we get neither of these things. What Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness accomplishes is that it feels pretty close to an actual Resident Evil video game. There are zombies, monsters, an inevitable betrayal, and the need to get out of a dire situation before the unavoidable massive explosion at a biomedical research facility.
Still, Leon and Claire are exactly who you’ve come to expect. And the series, despite the opportunity to develop and grow in its four-episode run count, very much sticks to the formula. Which doesn’t reinvent the Resident Evil wheel but works if you’re in the mood for it.
Infinite Darkness Is Heavily Inspired By Black Hawk Down
Much like Resident Evil 5, Infinite Darkness takes a lot of inspiration from the movie Black Hawk Down, in that it literally begins with a military helicopter going down! There are soldiers overrun by rebels in the country of Penamstan (which is a blatant allegory for Pakistan if there ever was one). And in typical RE fashion, the rebellion turns into a small zombie outbreak to kick off the series.
Years later, we see Claire doing humanitarian work with an organization called TerraSave in a callback to her and Leon’s last movie, Resident Evil: Degeneration. Likewise, Leon is called into a meeting with the President, just a year after he saved her daughter in Resident Evil 4. To absolutely no one’s surprise, zombies hit the White House. Because for some reason, Leon always keeps attracting zombies the way Ash Williams keeps attracting Deadites in The Evil Dead. As a result, an investigation goes underway, which becomes the driving force for the series.
Who Needs Character Development?
Now for those who love Resident Evil 5-6, this story feels more akin to those than some of the newer more horror-focused series like in RE7 or Resident Evil Village. It’s a lot more focused on the military and also lacks some of the consistent background terrors of both the Mansion or Racoon City, whose scares came from monsters and being in the thick of a full-blown outbreak.
Leon has gone from rookie cop to Government agent who is still trying his best to do the right thing. He is often the reluctant hero thrown into an awful lot of bad situations. A man who through a mixture of developed skills, dumb luck, and bitchin’ curtained haircuts, survives long enough to be the hero, almost always.
Claire in this one is severely underused, and often sidelined in favor of some Leon action. More than anything, she is used as an investigator. One who reveals nefarious bad-guy plot exposition for the sake of short runtime. To frustrate matters further, her motivations often seem one-dimensional, at best boiling down to “stop the bad guys”.
Surprisingly, the antagonist in this one feels even blander than usual, representing the worst of the platitude spewing Albert Wesker-types, who sprout on-and-on on about fear and how humans are the real monsters. Sadly, the biggest tragedy in this one is that despite all this effort to build up tension, the flashbacks meant to justify this villainous ploy are often boring as all hell, completely tarnished by badly written political drama.
Zombies + Politics = President Evil?
The global conflict kills a lot of the tension in the show because none of what happens feels grounded at all. The smarter move would have been setting 4 episodes in a Zombie Whitehouse. On top of this, the shifting locations on an almost per-episode basis makes it feel less a horror series and more of an action-driven political drama. For a short four-episode season, none-of-this could be justifiably developed in a total runtime of 2 hours. Though the series tries its best anyway, and fails in that regard.
In terms of the political drama, there is a lot of anti-Chinese war sentiment in this one. There is also a lot of commentary on the Middle East, despite not having the balls to use the word PAKISTAN even once. Most of the A-plot’s mission to Infiltrate a bio-research facility responsible for the White House attacks? It’s all under classified information, and rather than an active journey, it’s more characters being thrown into situations and performing bad reveals while Claire does the investigative legwork on her own.
The Leon, The Bad, And The Eye Candy
Aesthetically the series is incredibly pretty. The development team was Capcom, and so much of the visuals felt exactly like Resident Evil, with fantastic action and camera work. Likewise, the new character models are hit-or-miss depending on which actors you’ve grown fond of (personally, I like the RE2 Remake Claire better). The action sequences are also very cool, and as a RE fan, it’s always fun to see Leon and Claire tag team despite not knowing each other all that well.
In many ways, the show feels like it would have worked better as a videogame. One where the ambiance can be tense and the players could control the feel of slowly creeping into a location.
Watch It If You Have A Short Resident Evil Fix You Want To Satisfy
Its style is very similar to the video games. So if you like zombies and your regular sort of action-driven storyline akin to RE5 and RE6, then you’ll probably like it. But with Resident Evil Village out, I think fans should play that instead of watching this glorified, slightly boring, videogame playthrough.
Final Verdict: 2.5/5