Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness Is What the Franchise Has Always Wanted to Be

This July, audiences will be treated to a CG Resident Evil anime series on Netflix with Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness. The debut trailer features franchise mainstays Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield reuniting at the White House, only for the presidential facility to be swarmed by hordes of the ravenous undead.

As the trailer showcases epic high-stakes action with Leon and Kennedy moving to protect the leader of the free world, the scope and storytelling sensibilities show what Capcom's long-running video game series has steadily been building toward for a long time.

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Resident Evil's cinematic influences have been clear since the original 1996 video game, drawing heavily from B-level horror movies with cheesy cutscenes and fantastical monsters -- right out of a made-for-TV movie. The scope had grown significantly by 1998's Resident Evil 2, moving from a claustrophobic, isolated mansion to all of Raccoon City teeming with hordes of zombies and other deadly monsters. Capcom progressively broadened the scale and stakes as the game series progressed, culminating in 2012's Resident Evil 6.

While 2000's Resident Evil - Code: Veronica and 2005's Resident Evil 4 both took the action to Europe -- the latter game having Leon rescue the President's daughter -- 2009's Resident Evil 5 set the stage for the franchise to go even more global and bombastic with a particularly action-packed mission in Africa. Resident Evil 6 doubled down on this by featuring multiple, branching storylines around the world with the whole planet's fate hanging in the balance. While the shift to action divided audiences upon release, Resident Evil 6 remains the most ambitious story in the games in terms of sheer scope.

The first run of Resident Evil live-action movies similarly increased in scope and action but, ironically, never quite captured the same sensibilities or quality that the games excelled at. Even with 2016's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter having Alice lead her friends from the monstrous hordes in the White House, the film series fell short in balancing the story's dramatic elements with the sweeping scope and apocalyptic action. This is where the video games really delivered -- by starting smaller and more intimately before dialing up the scale to the latter entries' heights.

By taking more of a page from the games and striking a balance between survival horror and grandiose action, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is poised to fully showcase the franchise's cinematic possibilities -- even as the games themselves move to a smaller, more horror-oriented approach in titles like Resident Evil Village. Infinite Darkness is both a natural continuation and a perfect celebration for the Resident Evil franchise as it reaches its 25th anniversary.

With Infinite Darkness delivering the more sweeping action, the upcoming live-action cinematic reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is poised to be more atmospheric and horror-driven. Fans are about to be treated to both types of storytelling the classic franchise is known for.

Produced and supervised by Capcom's Hiroyuki Kobayashi, Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is directed by Eiichiro Hasumi and composed by Yugo Kanno. The CG anime series stars Nick Apostolides as Leon S. Kennedy and Stephanie Panisello as Claire Redfield. It is slated to premiere on Netflix in July 2021.

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