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Ultraboring

Watched Ultraviolet. In a way it was a lot like your typical anime – an incredible attention-grabbing first twenty minutes, and then the rest of it struggles to compare with the expectations, leaving the viewer with an incomprehensible plot and cookie cutter action scenes. At least there’s Milla Jovovich, right?

I can’t really say I was disappointed, as to get that reaction I actually need to be invested in the movie, and right from the start I knew the plot was going to be an unintelligible mess. If the first five minutes of the movie are enough for me to decide that I’m just going to pay attention to the action scenes and nothing more, that’s pretty bad for both the movie’s storytelling and my attention span! I will admit the first twenty minutes of action was pretty freakin’ phenomenal – this is how you make a sci-fi action scene, folks! Ridiculously colourful characters dispatching each other in amusingly sparkly manners (they should make a movie where everyone’s made of glass just so they can all be destroyed in visually spectacular ways) and abusing gravity devices to drive motorbikes along buildings and walls – that’s how you open a movie. It’s ridiculous, but it’s the kind of ridiculous you can fully embrace as it’s not like the story is all that involving.

Well, until the first twenty minutes are up, at least. The film feels like it tries hard to give the movie a heart, having Violet slowly gaining a fondness for some weird clone kid and all that, but everything’s just so poorly explained, poorly conveyed or poorly edited that I just couldn’t keep track of anything. There’s a fair few main characters, but you barely get to know them because the movie seems to have a hard time not focusing on Milla Jovovich (cue obligatory-on-the-internet “who’s complaining?” remark). There’s some kind of nonsense about humans and non-humans (I think they’re meant to be vampires, but that’s hardly conveyed well either), but it’s summarised rather crudely in the start and that’s about all the infodumping you’re going to get. In a way the movie just blasts its way through all these events, but at the same time it’s got a rather plodding vibe about it. Probably because the movie goes along and all these scenes happen but you’ve still no idea what the fuck the goal is.

For instance, there’s a scene where Violet dies. Yeah! She’s shot dead! With a gun! And then after about ten seconds of mild drama and blackouts she’s alive again. Her vampire buddy manages to resurrect her, and he’s overjoyed, explaining all the trouble he went through, stating that her heart stopped three times. If we were actually shown this supposedly dramatic operation, even through a montage or a cliché hazy “we’ve got consciousness!” blurry POV shot from her, this would almost have more impact, but given how ridiculous and under-explained the whole movie is you could’ve cut out the entire getting-shot part and I can barely imagine it would’ve changed anything.

That’s just the primary fault with the movie. There’s no attachment to it. There’s no danger, there’s no drama, it’s just a bunch of scenes where things happen. Violet leaves every battle without a scratch, even against impossible odds, and there’s never any danger to it. She constantly ends up in incredibly-lopsided Mexican standoffs where the tension is played up, but what for? She murders an entire three-story lobby full of soldiers without a scratch, off-screen. At first I thought “man, we missed out on a great fight!”, but then we see her murder three more rooms full of people and there still isn’t an ounce of danger to it, and the fight scenes actually begin to feel like padding. It’s the film equivalent of watching someone play Doom with god mode on – you see the sights, but you don’t embrace the experience. The only injury she sustains is some cuts on her hands from grabbing swords from bad guys, but it feels less like an attempt to show she’s still in danger and more like the action girl equivalent of her gasping “oh, my stars – I broke a nail!”

I suppose you could argue I’m viewing the movie the wrong way. It’s probably meant to be light-hearted fluff fuelled by the rule of cool, but to me it stopped being interesting after half an hour. It’s one thing to watch a movie just for the action, but this blew its load on the (totally awesome) opening gravity-shifting motorcycle chase, and then the rest just doesn’t compare, leaving you with boring and trite shootouts and sword fights. If the enemies were actually a threat (or capable of not killing their buddies with every other attack) then it might have been appealing, but basically the movie just turns into a bunch of pretty pictures once you realise there’s not much substance left in it. At least it’s short. It could have ended at the fifty minute mark if it wanted to, but it obviously thought more danger-lacking fight scenes were what we wanted.

The visuals are pretty neat. It’s difficult to talk in detail about them when I basically admit I’d just been watching a sequence of pretty pictures and nothing more.

Huh. I guess I was a bit disappointed with it, huh?

I guess the director’s cut or expanded edition (or whatever) might improve it, but I’m hardly going to seek it out voluntarily.

One Comment

  1. MightyKombat wrote:

    Yyyyyeah I don’t think I’ll be giving Ultraviolet a go. Might rank up where with Zero no Tsukaima for having female “heroines” that get away with shit

    Also been playing Smash Bros Brawl, epic stuff.

    Friday, December 31, 2010 at 5:17 pm | Permalink