Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Milla Jovovich……….Violet Song jat Shariff
Nick Chinlund……….Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus
Watching any bad action film there’s usually one saving grace that can make it seem like paying to view it wasn’t wasted money. Steven Segal films are generally vapid wastes of time, but there’s nothing like watching his deadpan delivery of hokey and ridiculous dialogue. Jean Claude Van-Damme is still doing the same nonsensical martial arts scenes with 80s style slow photography. Milla Jovovich takes off her clothes for at least one extended sequence.
In both Resident Evil movies Jovovich manages to sneak a nude scene to liven the proceedings of two relatively awful movies. But if one were to eliminate the requisite nudity, add in the usual bad dialogue and throw in some promising action sequences what would the result be? While some would say it be the usual b-movie direct to video release of Segal and Van Damme level proportions, and others might figure for an innocuous action film designed to make a tidy profit in the doldrums of winter. Well Ultraviolet, her latest offering, is a bit from the former and a bit of latter as it’s a bad movie whose early 2006 release had one intention: make a quick profit in the traditional dumping grounds of film year.
Jovovich stars as Violet, a member of a group of rebels caught up in a war with Vicecardinum Ferdinand Daxus (Nick Chunlund) and his government. Violet and her pals are vampires fighting a war against a government that wants them dead. When a young boy with the ability to potentially end the war winds up in her ward, Violet has to rage against the machine in a 94 minute action-adventure romp filled with big concepts, science fiction and not nearly enough backbone to make it a complete movie. Toss in a tastefully done nude scene of Jovovich from behind and it’s certainly disappointing, to say the least.
Ultraviolet is certainly an ambitious movie, that’s for sure. The film’s script is a huge leap from Kurt Wimmer’s previous work Equilibrium in that the script is much bigger in detail and concept. Wimmer certainly is trying to raise the bar from his last film, employing bigger action scenes and bigger concepts to work with, but the problem is that Wimmer doesn’t have the sort of delicate touch needed at this point in his career. Equilibrium had a relatively simple concept filled with lots of good action and with two great actors (Christian Bale and Taye Diggs) in the lead. Ultraviolet, then, is marred because it goes for too much. This is a big concept movie that Steven Spielberg, who has a similar movie to his credit in Minority Report, would be more apt with. This is a detail oriented story and Wimmer doesn’t have that story-telling acumen just yet. This seems like a project 10 years down the road for him to do, when he’s honed his story-telling instincts at a much higher level. Right now it seems like a project that’s overwhelming do to his lack of experience.
He does have a great eye for editing and cinematography, however. This is a film with lots of quick cuts and tight action scenes; while they are bizarrely over the top, they look great. There’s nice symmetry in the sequences as the action is nearly as poetic as it is ludicrous. It’s wholly unbelievable, of course, but it fits with the film’s scope. Wimmer’s goal is to try and push the genre a bit in both what he wants to do in terms of action as well as story, so the implausibility of it all makes it work to a certain degree.
The film also goes for broke in how it handles the sort of weaponry and scenery involved in it. In creating a new world with new problems therein there are new weapons and new ways to fight. The weaponry is mainly variants of weapons available now, of course, but certain things like how they are stored on a person are pretty high-concept ideas. While perhaps the science of it all doesn’t work if one were to break it down, for this purpose its interesting stuff.
For all this good, the film is pretty ludicrous in both its writing and some of its story-telling. Wimmer wrote the film as well as directed it, giving a good sense of how he wants the story to unfold, but the crux is that neither is as polished as they could be. There’s a lot of attention to put into how the film looks and works but not enough into whether or not the story has a good flow or is even good enough to get emotionally vested into. With some incredulous dialogue to go with some ham-fisted story-telling, this is a high concept story with low-level execution. What could’ve been a much stronger movie turns into being a below average one.
Score : 4 / 10
Presented in a widescreen format with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film’s comic book look and use of color come in shockingly well. This is a slick film with lots of distinct and separate colors as well as some good special effects; they come through quite clearly and gorgeously.
Presented in a Dolby Digital format, Ultraviolet also sounds terrific. Taking full advantage of the format, the film has a great separation of sound as well as a big booming soundtrack and effects.
UV Protection: The Making of Ultraviolet is a four part featurette that focuses on the film from beginning to end. Running around 30 minutes total, it’s interesting from one perspective to hear about the ambition of the film from several of the film’s producers. Trying to recreate the science fiction genre by trying to infuse vampires and action sequences and shot in Shanghai, China, it’s interesting to hear and see how high the grasp was by Wimmer and his production staff. Having written the part for Jovovich, the sheer effort involved in putting the film together is fascinating. With a lot of green screen work, as well as a lot of creativity from the creative and technical staffs, the featurette shows some of the technical work involved as well as Wimmer’s creativity in both invention of the world as well as how the use of color and architecture were used in both cinematography as well as setting. If there’s one thing you can’t blame the movie for doing is trying to go for broke in both its action and its story; everyone obviously believed in the vision and the hard work involved is evident in this feature. Even though the film can’t be considered a success overall, it’s easy to see that the creators and cast were trying to raise the bar and were trying to reinvent the wheel by going all out. It’s refreshing to see, at least, as opposed to seeing all involved settle for making another formulaic film.
Commentary with Milla Jovovich
Previews for Mirrormask The Fog, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing and Charm school, The Benchwarmers and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
Score : 6 / 10