Resident Evil: Death Island is the fifth entry in the animated side of the franchise, and has a lot for longtime fans of the games and movies to love.
Warning: Major spoilers for Resident Evil: Death Island below!
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- Resident Evil: Death Island brings together the franchise’s biggest game characters for an action-packed team-up fans have long dreamed of.
- The film pays tribute to the franchise’s past by featuring Raccoon City and giving Rebecca Chambers a more active role.
- Death Island wraps up loose ends from previous installment Vendetta and includes some actual horror elements, adding tension to the predominantly action-focused animated Resident Evil movies.
Resident Evil: Death Island is something of a love letter to the franchise and one that fans will have a great time with. The first entry in the video game franchise was hugely inspired by zombie movies, so it felt only natural Resident Evil would be a good fit for the big screen. That said, the Milla Jovovich-fronted films placed far more of an emphasis on outlandish action and sci-fi twists than horror and bore little in common with the source material. The 2021 reboot Welcome to Raccoon City was far more faithful, but a modest budget and messy storyline still made it a disappointment.
Beginning with 2008’s Regeneration, there’s a surprisingly robust franchise of animated Resident Evil movies. These stories are canon with the game series, and feature characters like Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Redfield siblings Chris and Claire on missions set during the Resident Evil game timeline. Predictably enough, reviews for these outings are mixed to bad, but the fifth entry Resident Evil: Death Island might just be the best to date.
Related: All Monsters In Resident Evil: Death Island
10 It’s The Expendables Of The Resident Evil Franchise
All the game’s iconic heroes unite for Death Island
The biggest selling point for Death Island is that it brings together the biggest game characters for one story. Instead of past movies and games that typically pair a couple of them together, this new sequel has Jill Valentine, Chris and Claire Redfield, Rebecca Chambers and Leon Kennedy working on the same mission. In the same way Sylvester Stallone’s Expendables brought together some of the most iconic action movie stars, this latest Resident Evil is the team-up franchise devotees have dreamed of.
Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness is the only entry in the animated universe that’s a TV series.
To its credit, each character gets plenty to do, and they play to their strengths. Rebecca is still the brain, while Leon and Jill get the bulk of the action. Claire is the character who arguably gets the least in terms of story, and there’s no resolution to the tension between her and Leon following Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness‘ ending. Even so, the team-up dynamic works surprisingly well.
Where to watch Resident Evil: Death Island
9 The Raccoon City Flashbacks
Death Island returns to the franchise’s most famous location
Raccoon City was the main setting for the first three games, but despite being wiped out by a nuclear missile in 1998, it has reappeared many times since. Since Death Island leans heavily on iconography from the saga’s past, it was fitting Raccoon City should cameo in Death Island. The story flashes back to Raccoon several times, revealing that antagonist Dylan was part of a mercenary team sent there to save Umbrella employees, but after narrowly surviving the horrors there, he became a bioterrorist.
8 Rebecca Chambers Becoming An Action Hero
The game’s medic has traditionally played a more passive role
Rebecca was introduced in the original Resident Evil as the youngest member of the elite S.T.A.R.S. team, who were sent to investigate a mysterious rash of deaths. Her medical expertise sometimes came in useful during Chris’s scenario, but the game very much painted her as a damsel in distress, as did her appearance in 2017’s Vendetta.
Just like the prequel title Resident Evil Zero, Death Island gives Rebecca some more respect and shows off her combat skills, alongside her smarts. Again, characters like Jill and Chris take on the bulk of the monsters, but Rebecca is shown to be perfectly capable of taking care of herself in the new film, which is a step in the right direction.
7 It Wraps Up Loose Ends From Resident Evil: Vendetta
Death Island brings back a key Vendetta villain
The previous animated movie Vendetta made the unusual choice of ending with a cliffhanger. This revealed one of the villains Maria Gomez was still alive and looking to avenge her father’s death at the hands of the protagonists. These films are largely standalone affairs that require no homework for newcomers, but Death Island pays off Vendetta’s unresolved storyline by revealing Maria is working with new antagonist Dylan. Needless to say, Maria’s revenge scheme fails and she’s unlikely to return again following her showdown with Leon.
6 Death Island Includes Some Actual Horror
Previous animated Resident Evils favored action over scares
Just like the Jovovich Resident Evils, the anime outings largely focused on action over scares. Outside of characters occasionally shining a flashlight down a dark hallway, there was little in the way of genuine tension. In truth, the new film is still mostly about setpieces, but Death Island still includes some old-fashioned horror and suspense too. Key examples include a scene where Leon and Jill have to remain completely quiet during a Licker attack, or when Rebecca and her teammates are confronted by an aquatic beastie while infiltrating Alcatraz.
5 Leon Kennedy’s Cheesy One-Liners
Resident Evil’s resident action hero scores some laughs
When Leon was introduced in 1998’s Resident Evil 2, he was a wet behind-the-ears rookie. Later entries turned him into an action hero with a fondness for awesome/cringy zingers. Death Island maintains this tradition, where he has a dry quip for most occasions. When he realizes the zombies he’s shooting are tourists, he states “That’s one f****d up tour!,” or when he and Jill are being chased by monsters and the latter asks how many there are, he yells “I ain’t stopping to count!” When he later blows them up, he updates the tally to “Zero.”
4 It’s Jill Valentine’s First Canon Appearance In Over A Decade
Jill has been absent from new entries since 2009’s Resident Evil 5
Just like Vendatta provided Rebecca with her first appearance in the Resident Evil franchise in over a decade, Death Island offers a big update on Jill Valentine. In the timeline of the games, Jill’s last appearance was 2009’s Resident Evil 5 – the majority of which she spent under the brainwashed control of series villain Albert Wesker. Death Island picks up six years later, where Jill – who is still suffering PTSD from the fifth entry – is making her way back into the field when the events of the story kick off.
3 The Countless Video Game Easter Eggs
Death Island has a lot of love for the franchise’s past
Devotees of the Resident Evil video games and movies will find lots of homages in Death Island. There are almost too many to count, but some of the main easter eggs include Jill wielding yet another gigantic weapon to kill the big boss – as she did in Resident Evil 3’s 2020 remake – a reference to the events of Regeneration or Chris mentioning his deceased partner Piers from the sixth game. Jill is essentially wearing the same outfit she had in the third game, she and Chris are using their S.T.A.R.S. issued Samurai Edge handguns while clips from the various games play over the movie’s intro credit scene.
2 It’s Got A Zombie Shark!
The Nepture shark makes a return
The original Resident Evil featured the Neptune monster, which was, in short, a zombie shark. A similar creature makes an all-too-brief appearance in Death Island, chomping down on Rebecca’s escorts to Alcatraz before merging itself with antagonist Dylan during the finale. Still, any movie with a zombie shark should earn an automatic extra star, and Death Island is no different.
1 The Ludicrous Finale
Death Island has Resident Evil’s most resilient boss yet
A typical Resident Evil game closes with players having to face off with a giant monster. After firing their precious remaining ammo at it, they usually find a rocket launcher or some other superweapon to finally destroy it. Resident Evil: Death Island takes this formula to extremes, where the five heroes have access to endless firearms (shotguns, machine guns, bazookas, etc) but no matter how much they chip away at Dylan’s final form, he just won’t die. This almost feels like a meta-commentary on how samey the series’ formula can be, but it’s also enjoyably over the top while resident genius Rebecca comes up with the solution.