Letter From The Editor - Issue 59 - October 2017

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Writing Fantasy

  
At The Picture Show
February 2006

Authorities! Seize this man at once!
Kurt Wimmer's 'Ultraviolet' is a crime against humanity

Ultraviolet
Screen Gems
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Screenplay: Kurt Wimmer
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, Nick Chinlund, William Fichtner and Sebastien Andrieu
Rated PG-13 / 1 hour, 28 minutes
Opened March 3, 2006
ZERO stars (out of four)

If you ever wondered what a Dentyne Ice commercial would be like if a crappy director got ahold of it and stretched it to a feature-length run time, here's your answer.

Kurt Wimmer's Ultraviolet is the kind of movie that makes you look back and gain appreciation for Aeon Flux, Underworld: Evolution and Resident Evil. This isn't just a bad movie. This introduces the action-movie genre to a whole new world of suck. A black hole, even. Bravo.

This kind of movie is why lots of people hate science fiction and reject it as a third-rate genre. Ultraviolet--Wimmer's follow-up to the guilty pleasure Equilibrium--is a movie so bad, so exceptionally incompetent in every conceivable way, it would make Uwe Boll proud. In fact, I honestly don't believe Boll could have done it any worse.

Going to see this movie--and doing so on my own dime, since there were no press screenings--will go down as one of the worst moviegoing experiences of my life. I want it stricken from my memory forever. After I get done with this review, I shant speak of it again. I think Kurt Wimmer should be arrested.

Since a movie this un-cohesive and stupid doesn't really deserve a cohesive review, let's just break it down piece by piece.

Plot: We're hundreds of years in the future, most of mankind has been infected with a virus and turned into homophages, or vampires, or both. Whatever.

By the way, there's never any expansion on the vampire motif. People have long incisors and stuff, but no one ever gets bitten. Quite disappointing. There's little, if any, talk of light sensitivity or blood-sucking or anything remotely vampire-ish. Still, the screenplay insists these people are vampires. Sure they are.

Anyway, the homophages, led by a fighting machine named Violet (Milla Jovovich), are staging a resistance against an apparently fascist government--though why the battle is being fought, and for what gain, and by whom, is muddled and impossible to understand.

I tried to pay attention--honest, I did. But this wasn't even worth it. For some reason or another, there's a "blood war" going on . . . which has something to do with the virus . . . and somehow the virus is still alive, which is why people are still running around this universe (I'm not sure if it's supposed to be America, or some other country, or another planet, or what) wearing masks over their mouths just like people did during the SARS "epidemic" . . . which . . .wait . . . what are the homophages fighting back against again?

Why are the bad guys bad? Are they bad? Mommy? Grade: F

First we have our hero, Violet. She tells us in the opening narration that she comes from a world we "may not understand." She does so in a very monotone voice that I assume is meant to represent just how serious this all is, and that Violet is all-business. We get the point, Milla. Please make a facial expression. I know you can do it.

Then there's Cameron Bright. Let me tell you a little bit about Cameron Bright. If you are ever making a movie and you need someone to play the Creepy Little Kid, he's your guy. He was the Creepy Little Kid (or, CLK) in Birth who thought he was Nicole Kidman's husband brought back from the dead; he was the CLK in Godsend playing Greg Kinnear's cloned dead son; and he was in The Butterfly Effect, which is never a good sign. In Ultraviolet, he's a genetically engineered weapon who's carrying some sort of virus--or, it could be an antidote! Kurt Wimmer is the master of deception! Anyway, the kid's name is Six, and Violet takes it upon herself to save him, and extract the virus and try to save people . . . and the kid is creepy.

Since no movie can be truly awful without an embarrassingly overdramatic villain, I present to you Nick Chinlund as Daxus.

And let's just be straight here for a second. The name 'Daxus' is fantastic. You hear that name, and you know right away that he's the Bad Guy. There's never any possibility that a guy named Daxus would be a good guy, or a romantic lead, or even a cynical-but-loveable crimefighter. It's just perfect. Anyway, Daxus talks like he's trying to do an Alec Baldwin impersonation. Plus, he's given all the worst lines of the movie--in a script that is already chock full of 'em. Finally, there's Garth (William Fichtner), a scientist of sorts who is very secretive and kind of has the hots for Violet. That's about as far as we get with him. Unfortunately, this character doesn't die. Grade: F

Action: While Wimmer's previous film, Equilibrum, had a lousy plot, some of the action scenes were fantastic. With the awesome Christian Bale as his leading man, Wimmer created a sort of hybrid of gunfighting and martial arts that lent itself well to the action setpieces in the film. Like Ultraviolet, Equilibrium was a cheesy action movie dressed up as a serious dystopian thriller, but it worked much better then. Wimmer seemed to have a few original approaches peppered in with all the derivatives.

In Ultraviolet, however, the gun scenes are ultra-boring, and over too fast to gain any momentum. Violet's trick seems to be that she can kill about 20 people in a matter of seconds (like by spinning around faster than a speeding bullet and mowing them all down, or by slicing a sword 360 degrees and cutting a circle of bad guys in half). This is a curious approach, as many action sequences end before they even begin. Funny, I would think the action would be Wimmer's selling point. Maybe better action sequences could have salvaged at least a few minutes of this mess. Grade: F

Gadgets, Weaponry and Costumes: One of the most disappointing aspects, I'm afraid to say. The guns are all pretty standard-issue (except the ones that look like staplers, which are just funny), the costumes and hair change color from room to room for no reason whatsoever, the bad guys' uniforms are made of glass (which makes them kind of easy to, um, break--fragile security guards are never a good idea), etc. Oh, and Violet has a "gravity leveler," whatever that means. Grade: F

Opening Credits: Even the title sequences are confusing. The credits are a series of Ultraviolet comic books, which will inevitably lead many people to ask themselves, "Wait, this was based on a comic book?" or "Are they making a comic book out of this movie?"

No--it isn't, and they aren't. The comic-book credits exist for no reason--it's as if Wimmer wants to believe he's created a character worthy of comic books, even when it's painfully obvious that he hasn't. I almost feel sorry for him. And then I remember what he did to me. Anyway, the credits are messy, confusing (in ways I won't bother getting into) and pointless. Grade: F

Screenplay: OK, go see this movie. Now, close your eyes and I dare you--I double dare you--to tell the difference between the dialogue in Ultraviolet and the dialogue in any of those cheesy movie scenes in the middle of action video games. I'm telling you, there's no difference. In fact, I think Kurt Wimmer found some obscure video game and just copied it word-for-word. (I have no proof of this, however.) The writing in this movie makes the romantic subplot of Attack of the Clones look like poetry. Why was this movie made? Grade: F

Visuals: The worst part of the movie, by far, and that's really saying something. Ultraviolet looks like it was shot by an overanxious airbrush artist. The digital photography is terrible and the entire film looks blurry and unclear. At times, Jovovich's nose almost entirely disappears. I'm not kidding. The overall effect is that the entire movie looks like a badly photo-shopped digital photo.

This is the kind of crap that would make George Lucas reject digital technology forever. The interiors look like hell's version of Space Mountain, and the washed-out look and cartoonish digital animation that passes for production design makes the sets in Aeon Flux look like pure artistry. Just so you can imagine it, think of the cardboard backgrounds from the Dick Tracy movie, then combine them with the digital backgrounds from the original 1980s Wolfenstein video game. That's Ultraviolet. The entire time I was watching the movie, it felt like I was watching a Saturday-morning cartoon, or a bad video game . . . or some obscene combination of the two. I will not forget this, Kurt Wimmer. Grade: F

Overall Grade: F

Read more by Chris Bellamy


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