Keep in mind the Riddle of the Sphinx? The unattainable query requested by the mythological creature that guarded the town of Thebes, which might eat you in case you answered incorrectly? The query, as everybody remembers from grade college, was a tricky one: “What’s the Resident Evil franchise about?” It’s a tough one to reply. The Sphinx ate lots of people.
Resident Evil isn’t actually a constant franchise. Hell, its particular person video games aren’t very constant — even the nice ones! But it surely’s a sprawling multimedia property, with video video games, live-action motion pictures, animated motion pictures, and a forthcoming live-action collection to its title, so there have to be one thing there tying all of it collectively, proper? And but it appears to succeed straight due to its incohesion. That is the odd factor about Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, the unassuming animated miniseries now streaming on Netflix: If you happen to watch it intently sufficient, it presents one potential reply to the query of what makes a Resident Evil story. Watching it intently isn’t simple, although — though it solely spans 4 mercifully temporary half-hour episodes.
Written and directed by Eiichirō Hasumi, with Shogo Moto co-writing the script, Infinite Darkness is a computer-animated miniseries that follows authorities agent Leon S. Kennedy after a rapidly contained zombie outbreak within the White Home escalates right into a diplomatic disaster between the US and China. How the previous pertains to the latter varieties the backbone of Infinite Darkness’ plot, however the solutions are solely compelling for hardcore Resident Evil followers. In any other case, it’s incomprehensible.
For instance: Viewers are anticipated to know from the outset that Infinite Darkness takes place between the video video games Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5. They’re additionally anticipated to typically be conversant in the occasions of Resident Evil 2. In any other case, they received’t know something concerning the present’s different fundamental character, Claire Redfield, and the way she connects to Leon. (They survived a zombie apocalypse within the small city of Raccoon Metropolis collectively.) Leon additionally turns up in a trilogy of middling animated motion pictures that can be purchased or lease on-demand — subtitled Degeneration, Damnation, and Vendetta — however Infinite Darkness takes place in a blip on the timeline the place these tales don’t actually matter. Once more, this looks as if a mission solely for dedicated followers, the type of people that would most need to see a connection to these earlier tales and the most recent one. That connection is near nonexistent. Infinite Darkness is doing its personal factor.
Sadly, that factor isn’t terribly compelling, given all of the research prep Infinite Darkness expects viewers to do. On paper, the miniseries presents an fascinating twist on the Resident Evil method: It chooses to deal with the collection’ ubiquitous zombies nearly as an afterthought, and as a substitute focuses on the individuals who create them. This has at all times been a working thread in Resident Evil video games — within the collection’ fiction, zombies and different monsters are nearly at all times a byproduct of pharmaceutical corporations’ makes an attempt to create a brand new type of weapon. Dubbed “bio-organic weapons,” the hordes of monsters the participant fights in these video games are often the collateral injury in an try and create a extra excellent and harmful monster, which is often confronted within the finale.
That is the strongest connective thread uniting the entire Resident Evil video games and spinoff media, which differ wildly in tone and high quality: They’re all, not directly, concerning the military-industrial advanced, and the way all flesh is simply grist for the mill with regards to making weapons of conflict. The world of Resident Evil is one the place bullets, bombs, and missiles are not sufficient to fulfill the greed of conflict profiteers, new horrors have to be launched, and everybody suffers the implications.
Whereas Infinite Darkness has loads of motion, it’s extra of a political drama than the rest. Although it’s set in 2006, there are echoes of present-day tensions between the US and China, and the plot facilities on the fictional nation of Panemstan, embroiled in a civil conflict that the opposite two international locations have an curiosity in. By the top, nearly everybody concerned — together with Leon — has their arms sullied not directly, as taking up institutional rot isn’t practically as clear as placing down a zombie.
It have to be careworn that Infinite Darkness conveys all of this with an astonishing clumsiness. The animation high quality varies on a shot-by-shot foundation, with the occasional struggle scene or closeup rendered in spectacular element, and most different scenes occupied by figures finest described as full of life mannequins. The English voice appearing is blunt, episodes start and finish arbitrarily (it feels precisely like a film Netflix chopped up right into a collection), and the script is resolutely uninteresting. On some stage, it’s nice to see such a targeted try and foreground the working themes of the Resident Evil collection. But when that is the way it’s going to be finished, the standard thematic confusion is a better option.
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is now streaming on Netflix.