FACT CHECK: Guinness World Records takes on Resident Evil

by: Cyril -
As a games journalist it's not uncommon to be placed on weird email lists.  After all, PR companies are desperately in need of press attention, and they know that email is free (and gets the job done, apparently).  One such example of this is the Guinness World Records group, which takes great pleasure in informing me of all sorts of strange game-related world records.  While not newsworthy, I do find myself interested to see how Guinness can turn a non-story into something completely self-serving.

Earlier today I received a press release trumpeting the various records held by Grand Theft Auto and Resident Evil.  Mind you, this wasn't completely unexpected.  After all, this week marks the release of the hotly anticipated Resident Evil 5 and next week we'll see if Rockstar Games can keep the magic alive with their Nintendo DS game, Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.  While reading through this list of mostly common sense records (largest GTA world?  San Andreas ... shocking) I stumbled across one record that, well, isn't actually much of a record.  Let's see if you can figure out what's wrong with this statement:

"First Live-Action Move [sic] Trilogy Based on a Video Game:  Starring supermodel Mill Jovovich [sic], Resident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) and Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) have garnered critical acclaim for its crossover from video game to the big screen.  The science fiction films are based on the same gaming series developed by Capcom."

At first glance you may think that the only problem is in the terrible spelling (left as is), but in fact there's actually a number of things wrong with this news story.  For example, none of the Resident Evil movies "garnered critical acclaim."  Don't believe me?  The first movie is at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes, a website that tracks all of the reviews written about any particular movie.  The critics hated the movie, going as far as to say that Resident Evil is "the latest proof that trying to adapt video games is a bad idea."  And it's not just the first Resident Evil movie, it's ALL of the Resident Evil movies.  Resident Evil: Apocalypse is sitting at 21% on the same website, and Resident Evil: Extinction has a lousy 22%.  To call these movies "critically acclaimed" is like saying that everybody fell in love with The Love Guru or The Hottie and the Nottie.

Sadly that isn't the only problem.  I also take issue with the actual record, which is for being the first live-action video game trilogy.  Sure there are three movies, but how can this be a trilogy when there's a fourth movie currently in the works?  Resident Evil: After Life is slated for a 2010 release, which would seem to suggest that this story is incomplete.  The Lord of the Rings was a trilogy.  It had three movies that completed a full story arc.  It had a start, middle and an end.  As far as I can tell, the producers of Resident Evil are just milking this for as long as they can.  I can't fault them for that (Hollywood is about making money), but to call this franchise a trilogy simply because the fourth movie isn't out yet seems to be a misunderstanding of what the word "trilogy" actually means.

It's this kind of lazy research that makes me wonder if Guinness is actually up to the task of measuring people's fingernails and weighing the fattest man.  If we can't trust Guinness to get the facts right, then who can we trust?
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