Alice Vs Selene: Blank Slate Against Vivid Character

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Alice (Milla Jovovich) posing in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Recently I binge-watched all five (so far) Resident Evil films. I saw the first film back on its theatrical run in 2002, and wasn’t that impressed, so I didn’t keep up with the series. But after stumbling across the first three for $2 each at Frugal Muse, I thought I’d give it a shot.

You see, every time I read about the Underworld series and its hero, Selene (who I’ve written about here and here), someone always compares her to Resident Evil’s Alice (Milla Jovovich, which thanks to the commentary tracks I now know how to pronounce).  It made me curious to see how similar they really were.

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Alice in Resident Evil: Extinction, the third and (IMO) best of the series.

The answer: not much. Both are female characters who lead an action/horror franchise (that interestingly are led by a husband-and-wife director-and-star team), but the resemblance stops there.

Where Selene has a history (hundreds of years of it, in fact), Alice is a blank. Literally at first: in the initial film she wakes up naked (something that happens to her a lot) with no memory. Details are gradually filled in, but they never coalesce into an actual consistent character. It’s impossible to imagine what she’s thinking for the most part–well, except for “Run!’ and “AHH! Zombies!”–and when she shows emotion, it’s generic, never in a specific, Alice-y way.

Further, the RE movies objectify Alice in a way the Underworld films never do to Selene. Both Kate Beckinsale, who plays Selene, and Milla Jovovich are attractive women, but for the most part, the camera never leers at Selene. She is first and foremost a character, and while she does dress in skin-tight black leather, she never poses in it. Alice poses a lot (see the picture at the top of this post). And while Selene is shown naked twice in four films, Alice is five for five.

Alice wakes up naked and disoriented at the start of the first film. This happens to her at least once in every film.

Alice wakes up naked and disoriented at the start of the first Resident Evil. This happens to her at least once in every film.

One explanation may be that the RE films are based on video games, not known for their subtlety of character. Another could be that Kate Beckinsale is simply a better actress that Milla Jovovich (Milla is much more entertaining when she’s goofing as herself on the commentary tracks). But whatever the reason, only the shallowest perusal could equate these two characters.

Still, there’s a fair bit of fun to be had in the Resident Evil movies. While the first film is pretty standard zombies-in-a-haunted-house fare, the second and third–Apocalypse and Extinction–have their own visual identities, possibly due to new directors (Paul W.S. Anderson, a.k.a. Mr. Milla Jovovich, wrote all five films but didn’t direct the second and third). Apocalypse takes place in the urban environment of Raccoon City, while Extinction occurs mostly in the open, brightly-lit desert. And Apocalypse has Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, who blasts Milla off the screen in the sexy-tough-girl department (she returns, to much less effect, in Retribution).

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Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine.

But there’s no substance to the Resident Evil films, ultimately; they’re all flash and image. Whereas I stand by my assertion that the Underworld series represents the total inversion of the hero and damsel-in-distress tropes.

What are your thoughts on either series, or both?

 

 

 

 

One Comment on “Alice Vs Selene: Blank Slate Against Vivid Character”

  1. I can appreciate your comments, but do believe you were somewhat harsh on Milla. I will preface this by admitting to be a huge fan of both Kate and Milla. The question is who has the edge when it comes to sexy. Take into account that of all the amazing action sequences in the REV movies, Milla does most of her own stunts. Yes she’s be naked once in each film while Kate’s been nude in 2 of the US movies, I don’t see that as being relevant as these “nude” scenes are very brief, don’t reveal anything specific and are far being sexual in nature. Milla was or is a Russian supermodel prior to acting and must have less than 2% body fat. Kate is undoubtedly a superior actress although neither will ever been thought of as Katherine Hepburn or Charlize Theron ( who can not only act but is sexier than the 2 women in question here).
    Milla and Kate keep very fit but in most recent movies/photographs it appears Kate’s backside is starting to look like that of a 43 yr old woman while Milla seems to be cheating father time. Some argue that Kate has always had a more feminine look because of Milla’s small bust size. I personally prefer women with a smaller chest, not non existant of course but id saw a b to a small c cup. I’ve never understood the attraction to women like Pamela Anderson, I find it nasty and “cheap” looking. Maybe that’s just it, personal preference. So let’s avoid that by going neck up. Facial features, smile, hairstyle and I guess how they carry themselvs. I’d love to see them when they first wake up to be honest. All the pictures I browsed through before writing this had them both ready for a photo shoot. I cut any photos in which either had short hair as I’m a shoulder length and longer hair type gut. I do prefer the darker color of Kate but side by side perfer Milla’s features. Long thin neck with a nicely proportioned head and stunning eyes. Putting that head back on to an almost flawless body makes her hard to beat. Now, from the waist down. The article which reveled that Milla did most of her own stunts said it included the fighting sequences including the high kicks above her head. Her legs are so long and thin and apparently very flexible that it can’t be ignored here. Kate is far from a slouch herself. Wethersfield it’s her signature black one piece leather outfit in UW or an old T-shirt and men’s boxers in Click she makes it rock. A huge thing I like about Beckensale is her nose. It’s totally imperfect. 99% of women in Hollywood would’ve gotten a nose job, but I think it gives her face/look a lot of character and personality. It also speaks to her self confidence in an industry of plastic people. I dunno, maybe it’s a toss up between these 2 goddesses. The Underworld and Resident Evil franchises are the reason we’re even having this conversation. Remove them both from their sexy heroine roles in their signature “uniforms” and consider them only based on their other movies and no way are they catapulted into the front line of Hollywood’s leading sex symbols. Because then we’d have to consider them along side the likes of Scarlet Johansen, Charlize Theron, Milan Kunis and Jennifer Lawrence and (as much as I love Milla and Kate) I don’t think they make the cut for the mainstream. Just gone to Google and type in The Sexiest Women In Hollywood. Can’t go by me as I’d have them on my list, behind Sandra Bullock and A. Jolie who are my #1 and #2. But Milla would fall in around 3 or 4 and Kate 5 or 6. So that’s it. I rambled on, got side tracked, included other actresses but in the end there you go!! I knew I had a point to make somewhere, lol. Take care. My email is PaulGargano@gmail.com if you’d like to respond. I’m a 42 yr old attorney from Boston, Mass. Oh, by the way I too sold vacuums door to door, you have to be a special type of guy to have pulled that off.

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