How to approach IPs when the source itself is corny?

HeartBlade

Sr Member
So right now Biohazard/Resident Evil on Netflix is getting lambasted (and rightfully so) because it is a mess of a show. The showrunner is so terrible, they couldnt even get the basics of the basics of the series correct (the show runner stated he never played the games but watched the movies).

But it did get me thinking, how should a competent showrunner adapt an IP of the source material is corny as hell. Resident Evil isnt exactly “horror” with much of its dialogue making George Lucas sound like Shakespeare. RE1 has silly dialogue, 2 and 3 do a little better but the voice acting is silly, and 4 goes straight up one-liners.

As a fan though, I do think this is part of the charm of the series. Same can be said for other IPs. Mortal Kombat/Street Fighter/Metal Gear and other IPs that Hollywood insist on making into movies have very corny elements and just removing them from the series arguably removes part of it.

If that is the case, how should shows or movies incorporate these elements?
 

batguy

Sr Member
Depends on the case IMO.

Was the original IP's cheese factor necessary for the franchise to work? That's sometimes true but not always.

'Batman & Robin' and 'Gilligan's Island' were both very cheesy 1960s TV shows. The former responds pretty well to a cheese reduction. The latter one would probably not.
 

Sluis Van Shipyards

Legendary Member
I think the key thing is for the actors to come across that however goofy the material is, their characters believe it and live in it. That's why I've said before that I really want a GI JOE movie based on the toys/cartoon. I want all that crazy stuff going on.
 

HeartBlade

Sr Member
Depends on the case IMO.

Was the original IP's cheese factor necessary for the franchise to work? That's sometimes true but not always.

'Batman & Robin' and 'Gilligan's Island' were both very cheesy 1960s TV shows. The former responds pretty well to a cheese reduction. The latter one would probably not.

Im not sure about the intent in 1 for RE (likely related to poor budget) but they really lean into the corny starting with 4 full of one-liners and 5 with the main character punching a boulder. I think an RE could work being rewritten to not be corny but might not work well.

I do agree with Sluis Van Shipyards that the actors need to play the characters straight though. The wink wink break the fourth wall gets tired and breaks immersion.
 

CadetTK2386

Sr Member
Im not sure about the intent in 1 for RE (likely related to poor budget) but they really lean into the corny starting with 4 full of one-liners and 5 with the main character punching a boulder. I think an RE could work being rewritten to not be corny but might not work well.

I do agree with Sluis Van Shipyards that the actors need to play the characters straight though. The wink wink break the fourth wall gets tired and breaks immersion.

RE 1 (1996) was produced in Japan, but they hired local English speaking actors to do both the FMV Scenes and the dialogue. They did record some dialogue with Japanese actors speaking Japanese, but were displeased with the performances and thought the English dialogue was "Cooler" and made it more Cinematic. The game was released in Japan first with the English dialogue with Japanese subtitles. However since the development team were all Japanese and these performances were in a different language language, they were unaware of of how stilted and poorly translated the dialogue was. It also did not help that at the time none of the voice cast were professional actors. To this day around half the Voice Cast have not been identified, and I believe it was Rebecca's voice actor who was just a High School student, and most of the cast for the live action FMVs were models with no real acting training.

I Know when it comes to the one liners in RE4, the game director had said that he knew they were shifting away from the survival horror genre to more action orientated by removing the fixed camera angles, and as such he wanted to give Leon the characteristics he thought of when he looked at American action movies, mostly that the Cool America Hero always had a one liner or a quip in the motives, so they leaned into that.

All that too say that the "Cheese" in RE1 was definitely largely unintentional and even in later games some of the cheese was just, not really a misunderstanding or misintrepatraption of another Culture, but just one of those things that happen you are working with a second language and another culture. You had a game being made and written in Japan, but with English dialogue and trying to live up to their American inspirational sources like Dawn of The Dead, so, their were bound to be some stumbles. However, it has become kind of part ands parcel with the franchise, and many fans have come to expect it and embrace it, but that doesn't mean that RE can't be done in a more serious tone.

Both RE7 and 8 are also much more dramatic and less cheesey than a lot of people think of the franchise, but given their shift to a new protagonist and settings that might have been easier to pull off than tackling that original Raccoon City storyline. However, I do think that RE2: Remake and RE3: Remake do show that the series can be given a more serious, dramatic spin and have it still work, even with the classic story line. The material takes itself more seriously, they plan down some of the things in the original RE2 and 3 that were seen as goofy, and the voice actors in each game give great performances. Frankly, I think of the Remakes as the perfect example of how to approach an older IP that might have reputation for being more cheesy or goofy. They retain the core characters, settings, and plot points, but treats them seriously.
 

HeartBlade

Sr Member
All that too say that the "Cheese" in RE1 was definitely largely unintentional and even in later games some of the cheese was just, not really a misunderstanding or misintrepatraption of another Culture, but just one of those things that happen you are working with a second language and another culture. You had a game being made and written in Japan, but with English dialogue and trying to live up to their American inspirational sources like Dawn of The Dead, so, their were bound to be some stumbles. However, it has become kind of part ands parcel with the franchise, and many fans have come to expect it and embrace it, but that doesn't mean that RE can't be done in a more serious tone.
This was the question basically for me. Intentional or not, the cheesy one-liners and weird dialogue (you were almost a Jill Sandwich) are a big part of the charm for RE so if you were to make a TV show, do you want to keep the cheese or keep the premise but rewrite the dialogue? There are iconic scenes like the first zombie turning its head, the tyrant skewering Wesker, rocket launcher, etc that could be fit into the show regardless of tone but as a producer, would you want to keep the corny or take it out?

Both RE7 and 8 are also much more dramatic and less cheesey than a lot of people think of the franchise, but given their shift to a new protagonist and settings that might have been easier to pull off than tackling that original Raccoon City storyline. However, I do think that RE2: Remake and RE3: Remake do show that the series can be given a more serious, dramatic spin and have it still work, even with the classic story line. The material takes itself more seriously, they plan down some of the things in the original RE2 and 3 that were seen as goofy, and the voice actors in each game give great performances. Frankly, I think of the Remakes as the perfect example of how to approach an older IP that might have reputation for being more cheesy or goofy. They retain the core characters, settings, and plot points, but treats them seriously.
I do think the remakes approach RE better in that they actually flesh out the side characters and are "better told" as stories. The police arnt just nameless mooks that are mere casualties of the outbreak but are shown to be more welcoming to Leon and actual brave, good people caught in a terrible situation. Sherry's short section delves into the terror of being a young girl all alone trapped with a maniac after you. RE3 delves a little into the trauma Jill faces from having survived the mansion and although still a Bad@$$, does need some help which could have been some interesting character development.

But those two Jills are quite different and do you want to go with the insanely talented and shrugs off severe trauma Jill or the more human one? Do you want to keep the one liners as an homage to the originals and make your tv show stand out or keep the stuff serious but faithful to show you respect the IP and avoid the inevitable criticism of "bad writing" when critics call you out on the strange lines?

I was just thinking although it is almost too easy to criticize Netflix's Biohazard/RE (and ofcourse, the showrunner apparently never even played the games), it does seem hard to actually make a good adaptation for tv.
 

CadetTK2386

Sr Member
Do you want to keep the one liners as an homage to the originals and make your tv show stand out or keep the stuff serious but faithful to show you respect the IP and avoid the inevitable criticism of "bad writing" when critics call you out on the strange lines?

There are iconic scenes like the first zombie turning its head, the tyrant skewering Wesker, rocket launcher, etc that could be fit into the show regardless of tone but as a producer, would you want to keep the corny or take it out?
And that is the million dollar question. Do you you lean into the things that Fans have come to associate with the games, one liners, stilted dialogue, and occasionally goofy appearing Monsters and enemies? Or do you you acknowledge that the original intent as stated by the creators was for the Games to be actually scary, but were held back by their technical and production limitations? Do you stick to a straight adaptation of the bad and the good bits and or do you use the source material as springboard and try to capture the feel, the intent, even if you don't get all the details the same or tweak things? I think there is room for both, and maybe a balance can be found, but you would probably have a better product if you just commit one way or another.

I think where the Netflix show really went wrong was that it couldn't commit and tried to do both. It starts off so strongly trying to be it's own thing and completely different from the Games and previous movies. You are suddenly presented with drastically different locations, Raccoon City but in South Africa and an Albert Wesker who comes off as more of an executive or scientist than the cold blooded, sociopathic villain of the games. The show is so slow to hint that maybe this is not or should not be the status quo and that perhaps you should be expecting a different Racoon City and a different Wesker that it’s unclear if these changes are a mystery or a Red Flag worth noting. Halfway through in Episode 4 the show seems do an abrupt shift where it starts to drop a large amount of Easter eggs and overt reference to the games and then goes on to sort of kind of acknowledge that maybe some form of the events of at least RE 1, 2, and 5 happen, but, shortly there after seems to revert and want to also be it's own thing again, before dropping a few more final references and Easter Eggs.

I think if it had committed one way or another, either be entirely its own thing or acknowledge and confirm direct connections to the games, it would have been more successful.

The other very popular Video Game adaptation on Netflix is League of Legends: Arcane, which is a far and away a better show than the Netflix RE. Now LoL doesn't have as much of a concrete story as RE, more like general backgrounds for the Champion Characters and the setting, but it is not nearly as narrative driven as the RE Franchise, which means it might be easier to tell a compelling story without the weight of the lore and story beat expectations. With a slightly more blank canvas it's more allowed to be itself. It takes the source material and uses it as a springboard to tell it's own story that might not line up exactly with the style of play in the game or the tone or mood of the game.

But just doing your own thing with the source material doesn't guarantee a better adaption either. Jade and Billy (Eilish) Wesker are two new creations for the show, with none of that backstory weight tying them down, so they should be free to be whatever they want with them in the RE Universe, but, Arcane takes two characters who are sisters in the background lore of LoL and tackles the same story beat of two sisters falling apart and ending up on different sides of a conflict and absolutely crushes it with way more pathos, humanity, and depth.
 

HeartBlade

Sr Member
And that is the million dollar question. Do you you lean into the things that Fans have come to associate with the games, one liners, stilted dialogue, and occasionally goofy appearing Monsters and enemies? Or do you you acknowledge that the original intent as stated by the creators was for the Games to be actually scary, but were held back by their technical and production limitations? Do you stick to a straight adaptation of the bad and the good bits and or do you use the source material as springboard and try to capture the feel, the intent, even if you don't get all the details the same or tweak things? I think there is room for both, and maybe a balance can be found, but you would probably have a better product if you just commit one way or another.

I think where the Netflix show really went wrong was that it couldn't commit and tried to do both. It starts off so strongly trying to be it's own thing and completely different from the Games and previous movies. You are suddenly presented with drastically different locations, Raccoon City but in South Africa and an Albert Wesker who comes off as more of an executive or scientist than the cold blooded, sociopathic villain of the games. The show is so slow to hint that maybe this is not or should not be the status quo and that perhaps you should be expecting a different Racoon City and a different Wesker that it’s unclear if these changes are a mystery or a Red Flag worth noting. Halfway through in Episode 4 the show seems do an abrupt shift where it starts to drop a large amount of Easter eggs and overt reference to the games and then goes on to sort of kind of acknowledge that maybe some form of the events of at least RE 1, 2, and 5 happen, but, shortly there after seems to revert and want to also be it's own thing again, before dropping a few more final references and Easter Eggs.

I think if it had committed one way or another, either be entirely its own thing or acknowledge and confirm direct connections to the games, it would have been more successful.

The other very popular Video Game adaptation on Netflix is League of Legends: Arcane, which is a far and away a better show than the Netflix RE. Now LoL doesn't have as much of a concrete story as RE, more like general backgrounds for the Champion Characters and the setting, but it is not nearly as narrative driven as the RE Franchise, which means it might be easier to tell a compelling story without the weight of the lore and story beat expectations. With a slightly more blank canvas it's more allowed to be itself. It takes the source material and uses it as a springboard to tell it's own story that might not line up exactly with the style of play in the game or the tone or mood of the game.

But just doing your own thing with the source material doesn't guarantee a better adaption either. Jade and Billy (Eilish) Wesker are two new creations for the show, with none of that backstory weight tying them down, so they should be free to be whatever they want with them in the RE Universe, but, Arcane takes two characters who are sisters in the background lore of LoL and tackles the same story beat of two sisters falling apart and ending up on different sides of a conflict and absolutely crushes it with way more pathos, humanity, and depth.
I personally think the Netflix version went with the worst option that could be taken (and this isnt about the writing or race switching legacy characters).

I do think taking an IP and "doing your own thing" is the worst approach because it doesnt make anyone happy. Fans want to see a faithful adaptation on another screen and although slight changes may be fine (due to things not translating well from, one medium to another), fans more often than not take issue with big diversions to the source material. Furthermore, if you are able to make a great show despite diverging so much from the material, why not just go the extra step and make a brand new IP or at least a "spin-off" inspired by the universe of the original IP?

I do agree that the showrunner needs to make a decision of incorporate the corny or write it out and stick to it but regardless, the actors need to believe in the material. I think Cobra Kai does this well with the showrunners going full force into the idea that karate is the top martial art and that a US town would make karate its city sport with the tournament being a huge deal in-universe no matter how strange it is out of universe. Learning karate wont make you a lethal threat but in the karate kid universe, you can rule the school and the showrunners keep that consistent with no 4th wall wink wink.
 

Cephus

Sr Member
Honestly for so many of these franchises, people need to stop making movies out of them. Resident Evil is a video game series. Leave it alone. None of the adaptations have been particularly good, the Milla Jovovich films just got more and more goofy as time went on and they kept ignoring the source material and the last movie and doing something else stupid. Leave it alone!
 

JLeezy23

Sr Member
Here is and has always been my thought: If people want to see the video games come to life scene for scene, line for line, just replay the games and ignore the shows/movies. Because there will ALWAYS be changes, there wont be a 100% recreation besides fanmade videos online that dont really seem to meet expectations. Sometimes fantasy/fiction works better in videogames, unless changes are made so the audience can take it seriously (opening weekend reviews can make or break any movie.)

If we want to enjoy live action versions, we need to consider that these games would only be perfect if they are left as games. And then remember the games still exist and these live action versions dont take those away from us
 

HeartBlade

Sr Member
Here is and has always been my thought: If people want to see the video games come to life scene for scene, line for line, just replay the games and ignore the shows/movies. Because there will ALWAYS be changes, there wont be a 100% recreation besides fanmade videos online that dont really seem to meet expectations. Sometimes fantasy/fiction works better in videogames, unless changes are made so the audience can take it seriously (opening weekend reviews can make or break any movie.)

If we want to enjoy live action versions, we need to consider that these games would only be perfect if they are left as games. And then remember the games still exist and these live action versions dont take those away from us
I do agree although I can see why some may want movies of their games. Movies can expand on the lore or provide a unique interpretation. I did read the RE novels before which was interesting although the author really fanned over Rebecca Chambers.

I agree that video games may be the worst medium to transition to movies though. Alot of video games are power fantasies where your player character is the “chosen one” and being OP is fun and great because it makes you, the player, OP and fun. Watching an OP character on screen, not so fun.

The Star Wars sequel trilogy would ironically would have been a good story for a video game since the player could play an OG character in the universe. As a movie, terrible but would have been a fun video game.
 

AJTaliesen

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
So right now Biohazard/Resident Evil on Netflix is getting lambasted (and rightfully so) because it is a mess of a show. The showrunner is so terrible, they couldnt even get the basics of the basics of the series correct (the show runner stated he never played the games but watched the movies).
Bit off topic (but only a little): doesn't there seem to be a trend now with people involved in these movies claiming they didn't do basic research, and sometimes even seeming to be proud of it? Happens a lot in comic book movies too. How do these people even get these jobs? I know at my job someone would comment if I didn't do even the most basic level of research attached to the job I was hired for. Today I did some illustrations for a report on rare minerals...I wonder if I could get away with saying I didn't bother reading it, the title said it was about rocks so I got some rock pictures.
 

batguy

Sr Member
It's a creative thing. Not being informed about the IP is presented as a sort of "I'm too free-thinking to be limited by the old approach". It's usually just rationalized laziness IMO.
 

HeartBlade

Sr Member
Bit off topic (but only a little): doesn't there seem to be a trend now with people involved in these movies claiming they didn't do basic research, and sometimes even seeming to be proud of it? Happens a lot in comic book movies too. How do these people even get these jobs? I know at my job someone would comment if I didn't do even the most basic level of research attached to the job I was hired for. Today I did some illustrations for a report on rare minerals...I wonder if I could get away with saying I didn't bother reading it, the title said it was about rocks so I got some rock pictures.

I decided to do a little research (not too deep) and need to in a sense retract my statement. Although the Netflix RE showrunner is a "fan of the games" and the quote I referenced was actually from the lead actor, reading the showrunner's thoughts I feel they are a casual fan at best.


Reading how the showrunner talks about his universe and the concepts in the show raised alot of red flags regarding their knowledge of the lore.

First, cloning isnt a thing in the games but the movies. The closest concept to "cloning" in the game is maybe the mind transfer Alex does to Natalia in Revelations 2. Making super humans is sort of possible but not cloning.

Second, Umbrella was never a weapons manufacturer for the US and was always focused on pharmaceuticals. The company became a conglomerate but started in pharmaceuticals with the ultimate goal focused on eugenics, seeking to create the ubermensch or next evolution in humanity, hence why they work with viruses which caused the zombies. They were researching the virus due to its potential to turn humans into superhumans. The closest to weapons manufacturer is their experiments producing bioweapons (turning animals into zombies essentially). To be fair, Umbrella is always depicted as the big evil organization and we dont get details on its revenue streams, how it functions, financial reports, etc. (Probably not a public company though given its involvements lol).

The article doesnt cover that much else on their thoughts but these two concepts already show some issues given that these are major plot points in the show.

Regarding hiring writers who arnt the most keen fans, I thought what the Witcher showrunner said (another tv show that ignores the books and games canon imo) was interesting.


The showrunner stated that she didnt want to hire writers who really knew the world created by the author because these authors would "question the givens in the books" such as why is the status quo what it is or if some concepts are explained clearly.

Although interesting, I think this is a really flawed perspective. It assumes that fans and scholars cant be critical or question the content they are fans of because "they are too close" when if you look at any fan website or here, that is far from the case. On the contrary, scholars would be ideal since they would both want to stick to the source material and have the answers to why things are the way they are and what can be questioned or altered and what cannot.

Given what the show did to core characters which was quite unrealistic for them (made Eskel an antagonist to Geralt when they were good friends, had him die early in the show, had Yennefer try to sell Ciri away to get her ability to birth children back when Yen essentially sees Ciri as her daughter, etc.) I cant say the showrunners or the writers are doing a good job "keeping with the spirit" of the books.
 

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