Saturday, April 22, 2006

Ultraviolet (2006)

ULTRAVIOLET: Cheap Junkfood
By Reymundo Salao

Set in the late 21st century, a subculture of humans has emerged with a genetic mutation. As more people are infected and the government becomes increasingly terrified of their growing power, those with the mutation are treated as outcasts. The government sets out to destroy them, but one woman is determined that that doesn't happen: ultra-beautiful, ultra-lethal Violet (MILLA JOVOVICH).

This movie is directed by Kurt Wimmer, who directed EQUILIBRIUM, which was a fairly good sci-fi action flick. But it was hardly groundbreaking. Being outdated by the style of the Matrix films and Hongkong ballistic ballet popularized by John Woo, EQUILIBRIUM's success in terms of reputation may have seemed like a stroke of luck. What made Equilibrium a better film than the visual style it employs is its storyline, which was based on the sci-fi classic novel "Fahrenheit 451". ULTRAVIOLET, on the other hand, has a weak storyline and a charmless script. ULTRAVIOLET may have had sincere intentions to become a serious sci-fi flick, one that at least hopes for some cult-status fame. But it just all goes wrong by some bad foundation. ULTRAVIOLET is barely eye candy. It is entertaining in such a low degree just slightly above badly-made action flicks, the likes that star Steven Seagal and Mark Dacascos. But at least it never gets that low. The consolation aspect of ULTRAVIOLET is that to the moderate film junkie, the film is highly bearable, especially when you consider just staring at Milla Jovovich part of the redeeming factor.

Regardless of the fact that the concept of “futuristic virus paranoia”, along with “cyberpunk rebellion” has become overused subplots, this movie fails to present well and utilize these concepts. Up to a point that one would easily get confused in comprehension and give up the will and the effort to understand the progress of the storyline and just wait for the next action sequence and all the other visceral aspects of the film.

But then again, there is a gross waste of costume designs and character designs for this film. In one scene, there are a bunch of assassin-like operatives dressed in sleek cyberninja costumes. Only to find out that they don’t last too long in the storyline, then die. There is also an array of magnificent foot soldier costumes, all of which aren’t given much highlight in the film. The fight scenes are okay, but never impressive. There is even one action sequence that reminded me of the More cigarette commercial. There isn’t much originality and shock factor in the futuristic gadgets, the setting, and the set design, not only because it may have been overshadowed by “Aeon Flux” (which has a more or less familiar setting with this film). The futuristic antiseptic atmosphere of ULTRAVIOLET reminds us of "Logan's Run" only without the intelligent storyline, and "Barbarella" without the sexual wit. In addition, there seems to be no consistency in the law of "science fiction physics" in this film. For instance, if characters can “download” weapons like firearms into their arms out of nowhere, why don’t they just download rocket launchers, instead of machine pistols and swords? We don’t even know why Violet’s clothes keep on changing color! I guess the line spoken by the main character in the beginning of the movie and its trailer stating, “I was born in a world you may not understand” seems to be the perfect excuse for all the silliness this film projects.

The main characters Milla Jovovich, Nick Chinlund, Cameron Bright, and Michael Fichtner deliver weak performances. Everybody else, and I do mean EVERYBODY ELSE...acts like dry crap in this film. The villains, with the exception of Nick Chinlund, are never menacing. Neither do they look cool enough to be villains. In one sequence, the villains stood in pose looking like members of a boyband.

For me, ULTRAVIOLET is like cheap junkfood; cheap cheese curls, to be precise. Edible, but with no nutrients, and is never as tasty as the fancier junkfoods. ULTRAVIOLET makes us film critics useful: we warn you that films like this may look cool from the trailer and the poster, but may generate a common verdict of being grossly disappointing, although, there may be some that would find the fun in it. At least, this movie is not as ignorant as the ridiculously stupid Fast & the Furious movies or the mindless Charlie's Angels movies. You will probably enjoy ULTRAVIOLET if you expect it to be the kind of anime-ish movie made to just pass your time. Just hope that SILENT HILL will be released this Saturday simultaneously with the Metro Manila and the world premiere.

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