Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Adam Leaves His Brain at the Door: An Ultraviolet Review
Once in a while, a movie comes along that asks you to be forgiving to a great degree. Basically, said movie asks you to leave your brain at the theater door.
Ultraviolet starts off with a series of faux comic book covers, hinting at the chaos to come. But it's the moment that the film asks you to forgive its temporary rescinding of the law of gravity that is the actual instant that you realize that this movie truly wants you to scoop out your gray matter and just have fun with it.
If you can't do that, you're going to hate the movie. Thankfully, I'm a forgiving sort.
Even though they say Violet's (Milla Jovovich) full name about seven hundred times through the course of the film, you don't really ever remember it all. First off, it's too goddamn long. Second, when things are constantly flying around or exploding or running up a wall, it's rather immaterial.
Sometime in the future, mankind has conquered pretty much every disease but one. Hemophagia is the by-product of all of the progress and genetic engineering that has gotten man to this point. The price of this advancement is a virus that essentially turns people into vampires. Get a drop of infected blood on you, and it's a death sentence.
Yeah, it's another vampire movie. Fresh on the heels of January's Underworld: Evolution, we have another flick about a tough female vampire in tight leather. Not that women in tight leather is a bad thing, mind you. But, much as I like staring at Kate Beckinsale or Milla Jovovich's hide-bound behind, I just don't see the plucky vampire heroine becoming a saleable genre in itself.
Ultraviolet has just as dim a view of mainstream religion as Kurt Wimmer's previous foray into sci-fi action (the sadly underrated Equilibrium), but is much more heavy-handed about it. The evil bio-corporation that engineered the Hemophagia virus? It's the Mormon Church. I'm not lyin'. Really. Nick Chinlund's Daxus is a vice cardinal of the Church, charged with keeping mankind docile and eliminating the remaining Hemophages. A rather broad mission, but this is a broad movie.
Violet was a nurse in her previous life. She had a husband and a baby on the way. When she contracted Hemophagia, her husband was killed and she was shipped off to a concentration camp and her baby was taken taken from her and destroyed. That's why she joined the Hemophage resistance.
For all intents and purposes, there is not Hemophage Resistance. Sure, there is a group of Hemophages that are supposedly fighting against the Church, but Nerva's (Sebastien Andrieu) group is so pitifully small, they don't seem credible as a threat to a cheese sandwich, let alone an army.
Oddly, Milla Jovovich -- wee that she might be -- taking on an army is more believable. Perhaps it's because she doesn't seem as Eurotrash as the other Hemophages. Mind you, the director has a cameo as a 'Phage, so I'm kinda calling him names.
And, pretty much, that's what you get. One woman against an army.
Have I not mentioned a plot yet? That's because there really isn't one. Well, they pay some lip service to a child (Cameron Bright) who's supposedly been engineered with a cure for the Hemophages. Or a way to kill them off. Or a way to kill off all the humans. He might be created entirely in a lab. Or he might be Daxus' son. Or his clone. Ultraviolet changes its mind constantly, since it wasn't of a very clear mind to begin with. (Oddly, Cameron Bright is playing the cure in X-Men 3 as well -- perhaps he's being typecast.)
Thankfully, as much as the movie mentions maternal instincts, we're not in for Ninja Mommy like last year's absolutely dreadful Elektra. The mother thing, like the plot itself, gets the back burner.
What this movie lacks in plot, it makes up for in slick, jaw-dropping set pieces like the opening raid on the Church's blood bank. The movie is pretty much nothing but visual spectacle, and works on that level. It's gorgeous and colorful eye candy. Go to have fun, and fun shall be had.
Though not nearly as intelligent, thoughtful or subtle as Equilibrium, Ultraviolet is even more jam packed with whiz-bang moments than its predecessor. What it has in popcorn value, though, it lacks in the staying power that a smarter movie might have.

1 comment:

dan murray said...

Unlike Ultraviolet, Underworld is a better story, and all around better movie. IT has style without camp, and better acting--sort of.....I enjoyed both Underworld movies very much and Kate is super. Mila is great in the Resident Evil series and it is as if they have a competition. Mila even sang a song on the original Underworld soundtack. Ultraviolet did not find an audience.--all style--dandanbul.blogspot