a critiQal film review UltraViolet (2006)

Plot: In the 21st century, a government-sponsored serum has gone awry, creating a subculture of infected called Hemophages, who possess greater strength, speed and intelligence that sets them apart from the "normal" humans. One of the infected (Jovovich) steals the government's secret weapon against the Hemophages. But, what will she do when she discovers the government's deadliest weapon is a 9-year old boy (Bright)?

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  • ...bad directing really brings down this fresh look at vampirism, but action buffs still may find it worth a rental.

As has become a custom for us, the time has come again for Heather and I to celebrate our birthdays with a movie. Since my birthday arrives first, I choose first. This year’s film? Ultraviolet, starring Milla Jovovich (Heather’s choice? Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006)).

So why Ultraviolet? Ever since Resident Evil (2002) (which was also a birthday movie choice of mine), I’ve been a big fan of the kick-butt Milla. While Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004) was a little disappointing, I couldn’t wait to see what she could with this new character.

After seeing the previews, I knew that Ultraviolet was going to be the choice this year. But, would Milla be able to provide the same exciting movie-going experience that she helped create in Resident Evil (2002), or should I have chosen V For Vendetta (2006) instead?

Milla hasn’t lost much when it comes to kicking butt and taking names. She really pulls the viewer into the film, especially during action sequences, as she seems to be a naturally-talented fighter. Maybe it’s all Hollywood smoke and mirrors, but most of the time she looks like she’s loving every single sword-slashing, bullet-flying minute of it.

Not to be content with just a action-packed shooter, she always seems to choose roles that give us a more in-depth look into the character she plays (usually with a tear or two shed on-screen along the way). It shows that she is really trying to work on her acting skills, not just her fighting. While she does a pretty good job of pulling the viewer into the film, Director Kurt Wimmer is trying to pull the viewer further away from the film.

With credits including Equilibrium (2002) and The Recruit (2003) under his belt, most viewers expect Director Kurt Wimmer to be right at home behind the camera. Unfortunately, with Ultraviolet, he does a good job of trying to destroy any interest the viewer has in the film. With a ridiculous sameness to most of the fights, some wide-angle shots that seem to be almost behind-the-scenes breakdowns of fight sequences, and an abrupt cutaway that will leave the viewer confused for awhile, Kurt does his best of disrupting the flow of the the film at each turn.

Thankfully, Kurt’s directing seems to be the worst part of Ultraviolet. While he is doing his best to pull the viewer out of the film at every opportunity, the plot is doing it’s best to keep the viewer tuned in. With vampires all the rage (see the success of recent Underworld (2003) film series), it was about time for a new take on the old idea.

This time around, while vampirism is still a disease, Ultraviolet does it’s best to stay away from the over-used bloody-thirstiness that seems to be at the center of most vampire films. Add in a whole slew of new technologies, and the viewer will leave the viewer craving for more, and anxiously awaiting each new development. Toss in a never-ending supply of enemies, and it seems like Ultraviolet could be an action fan’s dream.

Then comes the look of the film. Ultraviolet is shot in such a way that most of the colors seem rather bleached-out, centering the viewer’s eye more on Violet’s ever-changing appearance. However, this bleached-out look extends further, making it look like the film had to be done that way to try to make the huge array of special effects (and the massive use of green screens) blend more smoothly into the picture.

Unfortunately, Kurt messes this up once again, zooming in for close-ups on the star which over-accentuate the fact that she’s obviously performing many of the stunts in front of a green screen. While this wouldn’t have been bad even 5 years ago, the recent technological advances make this film seem like yesterday’s news.

Despite Kurt’s bad directing trying to bring down Ultraviolet at every opportunity, Milla’s acting does help salvage the film somewhat. With better directing (and editing), Ultraviolet, with it’s new take on vampirism, could have been something as fresh and exciting as Resident Evil (2002) was when it hit theaters.

As it stands, with Director Kurt Wimmer apparently trying to shine a bright light on every flaw in the film, Ultraviolet might be worth a rental for die-hard action fans, but it’s probably not worth forking over the money to see it in theaters.

Maybe I should have stuck with V For Vendetta (2006) after all.

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