Loyal fans of the Resident Evil series and zombie maniacs will have gone to see Resident Evil: Retribution by now. I’ve seen the film. It was what I expected; zombies, explosions, zombies, fights, zombies and the body beautiful.
There is an official movie novelization of the film too and this is a review of it. The big question I wondered before starting the book was “What’s the point?” Is there anything the book could offer that the film couldn’t?
You might be surprised; the answer is yes.
John Shirley has experience with cyberpunk, sci-fi and horror. His books include Everything is Broken, Bleak History, Demons and The Other End. Resident Evil has elements of all three; especially horror but also the sci-fi and cyberpunk. The AI the Red Queen is back, presenting the sci-fi, and there’ are elements of the cyberpunk in characters like Jill Valentine.
The first way the book adds to the film is to provide more detail. Sometimes this extra detail comes from the written word’s ability to dip into the thoughts and memories of characters in a way movies can’t do without resorting to flashbacks and other devices.
Extra details also come in extra scenes. The book can take longer over challenges and trials that the movie, in constantly fighting to keep our attention, races through or skips. All the way to the end of the book I was wondering whether it would have the same ending as the movie.
The second way Resident Evil: Retribution the novel adds to the franchise in a way the film doesn’t – is to have whole new content. There are whole new characters, a second adventure, and extra drama in Shirley’s novel.
It’s a good thing this extra thread is available to Shirley; he takes it and weaves together a book that’s far more cerebrally enthralling than the movie. That’s the metamorphosis that was required.
Disclaimer: My copy of the book was provided for review.