Film Review (UK) September 2004 Special Issue #54

Alice Get Your Guns
by David Grove

On the Toronto set of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, actress Milla Jovovich looks just as beautiful and sexy as she does in her other lives as both international model and occasional pop star, but there's something different about her this time, even compared with 2002's Resident Evil. Yes, she wears a low-skirt and her lips are ruby red, and she brandishes a large gun like she did in the first film, but her clothes are torn and Jovovich's knuckles are bloodied and cut-up. Her eyes look strange too, sick, appropriate since Jovovich's character, Alice, finds herself infected with the same T-Virus that turned a team of scientists into flesh-eating zombies in 2002 and is now wreaking havoc on Alice. Then there's the gruelling physical stunts that Jovovich has been put through, and the fact that her character has to kill scores more zombies this time. This isn't the Milla Jovovich who sells face cream. This is Alice.

For Jovovich, returning to the character of Alice meant months of physical training, and homework. "I think Alice is a much more interesting character this time because she's been infected with the T-Virus and it's changing her body and she doesn't know how -- she can't trust her own body," says the strikingly beautiful actress. "She spends the whole film having to deal with being sick, which makes her an interesting hero and the fact that I have a lot of friends in real life who have HIV helped me to play a character who's sick all the time. There's also lots of weird science in the film, lots of interesting concepts that I've been reading about -- about engineered weapons, the holographic universe, secret genetic experiments and how companies like the Umbrella Corporation can create things like the T-Virus and control our lives. It's not that far fetched when you think about the Ebola Virus and the possibility of a SARS outbreak today."

Having survived the zombie-infested, underground Hive in Resident Evil, this film finds Alice in the massacred Raccoon City, a city ruled by the Walking Dead. Joined by a ragtag group of fellow survivors, they must try and escape the undead city while Alice tries to discover the extent of the genetic experiments that were performed on her by the diabolical Umbrella Corporation in the Hive. "Alice barely survived in the first film and now she finally gets to Raccoon City, to land, and it's all destroyed," says Jovovich. "We pick up right after the end of the first film and we try to find out how the city was destroyed."

Jovovich says that Apocalypse is more of an action film than a horror film, even though the film contains more than its share of zombies and gruesome monsters, including the legendary Nemesis from the video game series -- a monstrous goliath who sports a helicopter gun that fires several thousand bullets a minute. "I would say it's more action than horror although there's a lot of blood, but most of that's from shooting as opposed to cutting and the types of kills that were in the first film," says Jovovich. "The first film took place all underground and this one is out in the open which means more explosions and more shooting. The heart of the story is about Umbrella -- the experiments they're involved in and finding out what they did to Alice. Alice is about to transform into something, which we find out at the end of the film, and that ties into some of the scientific ideas in the script about the holographic universe and the idea that Alice represents the next step in mankind's evolution."

For people used to seeing Jovovich as a glamorous beauty, the character of Alice, long with Jovovich's physical appearance on the set of Apocalypse, shows the actress in a whole new light: as a modern female action hero in the tradition of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley character from the Alien films. "My hands and knuckles have been so cut-up doing both of these films that it's hurting my modeling career," she says with a laugh. "I have a really big gun in the film that's on my back, but it's so long that when we did the scene the first time, I couldn't pull it because you'd have to have elastic arms to pull it out. My hands used to be really soft, but they don't show them anymore in my commercials because they're so disfigured and ugly. They use someone else's hands. I think Alice and Ripley are compared to each other because there's so few female heroes in film today. I think both characters are fighting evil corporations and they're both very independent and strong. I trained for three months for Apocalypse -- gun training, martial arts, everything -- but if I'd known how many stunts there were going to be in the film, I'd have trained even longer."