In a single ninety-minute film, the five most important Resident Evil main characters unite for the first time in the twenty-seven-year history of the franchise. Longtime fans were also enticed to revisit the animated portion of the series by the ensemble cast and the much-anticipated return of Matt Mercer as Leon (perhaps for the final time). Fans of the franchise have reacted favorably to previous additions, such as the 2017 film Resident Evil: Vendetta and the most recent miniseries Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, which is set in the same universe. But what about brand-new admirers?
A non-follower would be jumping into the deep end by starting with this film because it carries over storylines from its 2017 predecessor. Nonetheless, Death Island draws in new viewers by bringing them up to date on the dynamics and past relationships of the main individuals. The titular leads have influenced various areas of popular culture, even for people who have only heard of the name of the franchise. For Jill and Leon in particular, who have never interacted on television before, context clues are crucial to learning about their pasts.
Makoto Fukami, the author, deftly strikes a balance between the characters’ emotional highs and lows. Jill connects with the other four characters in a genuine way, weaving together their friendships that have been woven together by previous continuities. Fukami skillfully incorporates the emotional tension between the two seasoned colleagues into their most recent assignment by taking advantage of Chris’s worries regarding her trauma from a prior mission. It does it without using cliched, pointless arguments to efficiently bring the spectator up to speed.
By comparison, the villains, Dylan and Maria, have far less weight. While Dylan’s emotional past as an ex-soldier employed by the Umbrella Corporation is the main emphasis of the film, he never emerges from his moustache-twirling villain persona. His aspirations of dominating the world are really simply thinly veiled fears from having to kill his companion under duress on his previous assignment. In the movie’s climax, Jill properly calls him out on his absurd leap in reasoning, but by then, the audience has lost faith in Dylan’s initial reasoning.
However, Maria, the supporting antagonist, comes through more because she is carrying over her vendetta from the first movie, Vendetta. She is the focal point of all the hand-to-hand fighting as Dylan amasses the “pawns” for his strategic maneuver. But in contrast to Dylan’s protracted monologues, she is a character who speaks in relatively few words. Her goal is to depose Leon, which regrettably results in straightforward—and occasionally absurd—one-liners in the vein of Inigo Montoya. Nevertheless, her last battle with him ends abruptly and practically without drama when he kicks her into a stake, causing her to fall to the ground. Despite spending the whole film pursuing him and depressing him, she never delivers a strike powerful enough to hold Leon down for more than a moment.
Director Hasumi’s acute sense of action is evident in his prior work on live-action films. I was wishing there was a freeze frame because of how ridiculous it seemed to clamp a motorbike brake on Maria’s heel from a close-up perspective. CGI films are frequently criticized for having a stilted, unnatural appearance. But what sets Death Island apart from a lengthy in-game cutscene is Hasumi’s creative use of camera angles during action scenes. The closing scene in the movie, where all five characters are together with weapons aimed at Dylan after his transformation, is arguably the most thrilling one. When the armory’s artillery explodes and there are slow-motion scenes featuring each individual figure, chaos ensues.
The spirit of friendship with a hint of zombies lies at the core of Death Island. Those with sharp eyes will see the animals’ unfinished designs in this film. Even the most ardent fans will be pleased to see ample attention given to jokers, bio-organic weapons, and zombie sharks. More research is needed to understand the emotional highs and lows that people experience when they confront their inner demons. The filmmakers of Death Island took on the difficult task of allocating screen time to each of the five primary characters, and they succeeded in creating an engaging 90 minutes of action and character growth.