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Resident Evil: Death Island (2023) Review

The latest entry in the animated franchise, Resident Evil: Death Island comes two years after the last entry, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, and is set in 2015, just after the events of Resident Evil: Vendetta but before Resident Evil 7. Got that?

Somewhere in San Fransisco DSO Agent Leon S. Kennedy (Matthew Mercer, Assassination Classroom, Resident Evil: Vendetta) is trying to recover kidnapped scientist Dr. Antonio Taylor (Frank Todaro) when a mysterious woman appears and, after a high-speed chase, causes him to crash. Claire Redfield (Stephanie Panisello, Valley of the Dead, Ba Da Bean) is also in town, trying to find out what kind of creature can use Orcas as a food source. And whether or not the creature is a bioweapon.

Jill Valentine (Nicole Tompkins, Antrum: The Deadliest Film Ever Made, The Amityville Terror), Chris Redfield (Kevin Dorman, Avatar: The Way of Water, Resident Evil: Damnation) and Rebecca Chambers (Erin Cahill, Love, Inheritance and Lunch, Creature Unknown) are also looking for answers. In their case, what’s causing zombies to start walking the streets of San Fransisco? The evidence they’ve found so far points at an improved version of the T Virus, but none of the victims has bite marks on their bodies. And the people they bit died rather than turn.

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Director Eiichirô Hasumi (Re/Member, Mozu the Movie) and writer Makoto Fukami (Psycho-Pass: The Movie, Black Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall) introduce Resident Evil: Death Island’s plot threads in their own style. So in short order, we get action, mystery before outright horror as Jill searches a darkened building and finds what she’s looking for.

It’s only after that we get a glimpse of the person behind it, but no clues as to who he is or what his motive might be. You can, however, be pretty sure it’s linked to the film’s prologue set in Raccoon City. And speaking of links, our heroes find a common link between the T Virus victims and the dead whales, Alcatrazz Island, and the surrounding waters. That not only provides a great setting for a film like Resident Evil: Death Island, it justifies the title as well.

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Technically Resident Evil: Death Island is a very solid film. The animation and sound effects are both excellent, with the CGI quite detailed and staying smooth even in busy scenes such as when Leon and Jill find themselves fighting a pack of Lickers. And the sound mix adds an extra dimension to the many scenes in the dark tunnels under the cell blocks.

Plotwise it’s good if a bit predictable, with a new villain, Dylan Walker (Daman Mills, Golden Kamuy, Call of the Night), and a connection to Resident Evil: Vendetta via Maria Gomez (Cristina Valenzuela, Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Blaze and the Monster Machines). Dylan’s motivation, while a bit different from what we’ve seen for this franchise, isn’t the most original. It also feels a bit underwhelming and confusing in its logic.

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Considering this is the first time all the main characters have been together in an animated film, Resident Evil: Death Island probably should have had a stronger, more ambitious antagonist. But there is still plenty of action and one hell of a final monster to keep them busy.

Despite a few shortcomings, Resident Evil: Death Island is a solid entry in not just the animated franchise but the Resident Evil universe as a whole. It’s a step above Vendetta and several steps above Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City. If you’re a fan of the franchise or animated horror in general, you’ll want to see this one.

Resident Evil: Death Island is available on 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD as well as VOD and Digital Platforms via Sony.

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