Movie Reviews: UltraViolet

UltraViolet is a CGI / live-action / vampire / horror / fantasy / action / adventure / sci-fi / thriller kreplach that is even more horrible than such a mish-mash description could possibly imply. If you took a New York strip steak, French fries, Caesar salad and vanilla pudding, and put them all into a blender, you wouldn’t have anything remotely approaching an edible meal, let alone an appetizing one. And yet that’s exactly what they’ve done here: they’ve taken ten different kinds of movie, all of them bad, and combined them in a way that they don’t collectively add up to even one mediocre one.

There are bad movies that people sit through for the express purpose of mocking, or getting a kind of sangfroid pleasure out of. I used to do that until I realized life was too short, and with all the genuinely good movies out there that have gone unseen, why waste my time? But UV came out, and friends of mine saw it and told me they had seen bargain-basement porn that was more interesting than this, and my response was: Surely they can’t be right. Even if I didn’t like Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, it had a cult following, and at least that was explicable. This movie, however, deserves no cult following, merely an angry mob of people chasing after it with pitchforks and torches.

A weapon-laden Milla Jovovitch has an appropriate reaction when she
realizes she is trapped in one of the very worst movies ever made.

UV is about Milla Jovovitch as Violet, a vampire—actually, no, that’s just what they call them. They’re really named “hemophages,” people who have been infected with a virus that makes them somewhat better than human, but at the cost of a thirst for blood. She was contaminated when she was pregnant, lost her child to her doctor-captors, but broke out of the containment facility she was being held in and joined up with the rest of her fellow hemophages in some kind of war, or something, against the rest of humanity, or something. The movie’s so inelegantly and ineptly assembled that even after being told what’s going on we still don’t get it, mostly because by that point we already don’t care and just want to see things blow up.

We get stuff blowing up, all right. Right in the first action scenes, Violet shows her arsenal: she has guns that pop out of her sleeves and reload from them, too—plus what looks like a miniature sun embedded in her belt buckle, which allows her to walk on ceilings and participate in the single most idiotic action scene ever filmed. It involves a helicopter, a mini-gun, a motorcycle, and a whole bunch of bullets that have been programmed not to kill the protagonist because that would be stupid. She also has a terribly cumbersome 3-D communicator, which reminded me of why videophones never caught on: if I had to find a blank wall every time I wanted to talk to someone, I’d go back to strings and tin cans.

When the movie isn't shredding, exploding or pummeling everything or everyone in sight,
it resorts to some of the least coherent and idiotic plot mechanics imaginable to move things forward.

Most of the film was shot using a mixture of live-action and matted-in CGI, all of which looks extremely flat and awkward. Part of the problem is that it is still very difficult to merge the two seamlessly; there’s almost always some kind of mismatch between one and the other, and there’s the more fundamental problem of looking at a special effect and saying, wow, that’s a very nicely-done special effect. When there’s an acceptable suspension of disbelief taking place, as there was with Casshern or Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, it’s not so bad, but with a movie as lumpen and dimwitted as UltraViolet, nothing helps.

There is little more in UV than one immensely dumb action scene after another, all of which follow the same immutable laws of every other movie ever made where people shoot at each other and only the hero ever hits anyone. My favorite (if that’s the word) of these sequences is an unintentionally hilarious shootout that is best described as Gun-Kata Revision Zero, or maybe Violet Meets A Polish Firing Squad. It’s one thing to trick your enemies into shooting each other, but it’s not much of a trick when they’re all pretty dumb to begin with. Even stupider are the scenes where people switch between guns and swords and karate for no particular reason, and I seemed to be the only person thinking that one well-placed grenade would end the movie pretty quickly.


UltraViolet was directed by Kurt Wimmer, who created a movie that is in many ways the diametric opposite of this one: Equilibrium. That film was as smart and capable and credible as this one is stupid and insufferable, and if you haven’t seen it yet I urge you to do so and forget this movie ever happened. The fact that Sony used this pail of garbage as one of their debut titles for the Blu-ray Disc format says less about their greed than it does about their desperation.

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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the categories Movie Reviews, Movies, published on 2006/09/09 21:15.

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