Thursday, June 29, 2006

"...I'll kill them..."

Mes Amis

In the world of cinema some films (the Fog) are bad. And some films go beyond bad and into some other place entirely. Welcome to the world of UltraViolet.

Look, one of my mates said it looked good and since I knew nothing about it I said I'd go along. And in the end I may have had one of the best cinematagraphical experiences I have had in a long time.For a start there's the comic book covers that open the film... why? They look good but... just why? Is it based on a comic? My sources tell me no or at the very least if it is that comic is so obscure it had better hope it never gets associated with this movie (unless it really is every bit as bad, but come on, no comic is as bad as a so-called "comic book movie").

But it wants to be a living breathing comic, hence the continuous use of primary colours and a heroine (the always lovely looking but never actually any good Milla Jovanich). And then when the film kicks - there's a pumping dance track. There's shit being blown up. There's mention of Hema-somethings (hemaphages) who apparently are infected and have bad blood and sound like they could be vampires. Indeed at one point someone refers to them as such. Which is stupid because they walk in sunlight, can be killed by ordinary bullets (or broken bones) and don't suck blood. They do have pointy teeth, though. And maybe a shortened lifespan, but I only found that out by reading another review on this fabulous interwub.

That's the coherent stuff out the way then.

Because the plot, such as it is, has Milla (playing a sexy hemaphage called Violet who has been so fucked up by her new life as a disease-ridden vampire - y'know, indistinguishable from everyone else in the movie except she has [subtly] pointy teeth - fighting the front line in the war against humans (why don't they just wait ten years for the hemophages to die? Naaaahhhh... more fun to start a civil war...). She is sent to steal a weapon. Except that weapon is a child. A biologically engineered child whose blood either contains a cure for the disease or it doesn't or its going to kill hemophages or humans or both or... by the end nobody quite seems to know what the child can do... Anyway, the weapon being a child gives Milla a chance to go all Ripley in Aliens and, y'know, fight impossible odds to protect this child. But the mother metaphor is stretched further because Milla was pregnant before she got ill and now she can't have children so this child gives her a chance to pretend she's a badass mother. I know this because the bad guy did a big monologue about it.

Because, y'know, bad guys deliver these kinds of monologues instead of just nuking the building where he knows this fighting machine called Violet is hiding.The dialogue is where things get even worse. Never mind the fact that not one single member of the cast can deliver a single line of dialogue with inflection or emotion, but director Kurt Wimmer constantly asks them to deliver huge expository monologues. Whether its Milla explaining about this world "you may not understand" (who is she talking to? Us? Why? Why why why? How does she know we won't understand her world - - oh wait, she read the script and realised she didn't understand it either so it was going to be hell on legs for the audience to make any sense of it) or the bad guy explaining why he had to clone himself to either a) kill all vampires or b) kill all humans* everyone looks incredibly bored and desparate to get to the action. And then of course there's the bulk of Milla's dialogue which often involves saying, "damn," in a breathy voice and variations of: "I'm a killer. That's what I do." or her response to the bad guy's question of what she'll do when confronted with 700 soldiers... "I'll kill them."

Speaking of kiling: the ludicrously stupid action. Its as if the director has watched The Matrix too many times and decided he wants to do that but has neither the skill or the budget to achieve anything remotely cool. Oh sure, for some reason Milla can defy gravity, but while that could be cool, the effects look unfinished and what we're given is not unlike the 1990's glut of poorly budgetted FMV video games. In fact, Wing Commander looked better than this turgid shite.

And for all that, I couldn't look away. Like watching a car wreck, you keep thinking that nothing else can possibly happen to make matters worse. And yet it does. By the time the bad guy (outacted by his nose plugs) said to Milla, "What are you? Mental?" my jaw was literally on the floor.

My advice: don't see this movie. Well, unless you want a crash course in complete incpompetence. Because on that level, the movie is a wonderful and unprecendented success.

Au revoir



Steven Torres said...

Well, I was GOING to see it, but you've ruined the ending. Thanks a lot.

Actually, I just picked up the TV series by the same title and liked it. I thought there was a connection between movie and series. Guess not.

Vincent said...

It's a shame, because I liked Wimmer's previous film 'Equilibrium'. Okay, that was derivative, but the brief action scenes were better than The Matrix. Unfortunately, it sounds like credit for that film staying the right side of cheesy has to go to the impressive cast - Christian Bale, Emily Watson and Sean Bale. Milla Jovovich, pretty though she is, not quite in the same league.

Russel said...

In Wimmer's defence aparently the movie was taken out of his hands and re-edited by the studio. But unless they reshot and redubbed and rebuilt it from the ground up, I really can't see his vision as being much more competent than the mess presented here.

Vincent said...

Apparently the same thing happened on Aeon Flux and I have similar suspicions about the supposed Director's Cut.

John R. said...

Yeah, the series was a whole 'nother thing, Steven. Not bad, IMO, from what I remember of it. Carbon bullets in place of wooden stakes. Pretty nifty.

Director's cuts of lousy movies are an interesting proposition. Daredevil was massively improved (from a god-awful pile of flaccid shite to an OK film) by the changes in its (trimming Jennifer Garner's appearance heavily and attempting to invest the film with a little characterisation). But then there's things like Exorcist: The Beginning (or whatever it was called), where the studio loathed the original version and canned it lock, stock and barrel, hired a different director and remade the whole thing.

Which was then an utter bucket of piss.

So they released the original version they'd canned, with rumours circulating that it was much better - and can't have been any worse.

And it was an utter bucket of piss.

Aeon Flux I want to see just to see if it is the mess it's cracked up to be.

Milla Jovovich was in Million Dollar Hotel which instantly makes her someone to be loathed and her films to be avoided. A permanent stain on her record.

Anonymous said...

Y'know, Milla Jovovich was once in a film role that suited her... 'Fifth Element' ring any bells?

Having said that, UltraViolet isn't too bad, you can at least detach your brain and watch it. There are some films where not even that is possible.

Russel said...

Mr Anonymous, no wonder you ain't giving out your name... :-) Actually I was the most positive person of all the people I know who've been to see it!

As to 5th Element... I know a lot of people who liked it but it never did much for me at all...