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Overall Rating

Awesome: 16.44%
Worth A Look: 16.44%
Just Average: 19.18%
Pretty Crappy34.25%
Sucks: 13.7%

6 reviews, 37 user ratings

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by Peter Sobczynski

"A film as sleek, stylish and good-looking as its star."
5 stars

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, when a studio declines to preview a film in advance for critics, it means that they know full well that it is a pile of junk and that they are trying to keep the inevitable bad word-of-mouth from getting out for as long as possible. There are rare occasions, however, when the dump comes because a studio has been given something unique and they have no idea of how to sell it to the public. There have been too many examples of the former in recent weeks to count and with “Ultraviolet,” we now finally have an example of the latter. Sure, it features a story that is absolutely bewildering in its most lucid moments but it tells it in such a flamboyantly stylish manner that only the most churlish of viewers will find themselves unresponsive to its giddily surreal charms. For the rest of us, the film is a visual feast from start to finish that will leave you with a goofy grin and thirsting for more.

Set in the not-too-distant-future, “Ultraviolet” posits a world that has been torn upside-down by illicit biological experimentation. If I paid attention to the gobs of exposition in the opening reel, it seems that the military attempted to develop a serum that would turn people into super-soldiers. It escaped and those infected were transformed into “hemophages,” who appear to be some form of vampire as well as super-strong fighters. One of those infected was Violet (Milla Jovovich), who lost her husband and unborn child to the plague and was made a guinea pig for experiments by humans. After escaping, she formed an underground rebellion of fellow hemophages who have pledged to bring down the humans once and for all, mostly with kung-fu kicks and swordplay.

As the story proper begins, Violet, posing as a courier, infiltrates the headquarters of the evil Vice-Cardinal Daxus (Nick Chinlund) in order to intercept the delivery of a super-weapon designed to destroy all hemophages once and for all. After the requisite mayhem (including some not-at-all gratuitous nudity and a security check that makes going through an airport terminal seem like a breeze by comparison), Violet makes off with the package and prepares to deliver it to her fellow hemophages when she demonstrates that she never saw “The Transporter” by peeking inside the package. The “weapon” turns out to be a nine-year-old boy known as Six (Cameron Bright) whose blood contains a substance deadly to hemophages. While her comrades want to kill him, Violet decides to rescue him again–partly because his blood could theoretically hold a cure for hemophages and partly because her maternal instincts seem to be kicking in once again. As a result, she and the kid find themselves hunted down by humans and hemophages alike–not that it makes much of a difference to Violet other than to allow her to double her normal body count.

Yeah, I know that “Ultraviolet” sounds like another helping of the same old junk from that brief description but what elevates the film to the next level is not the song but the way in which it has been sung. Director Kurt Wimmer has taken his nonsense and given it an astonishing visual treatment that is reminiscent of the giddily gaudy likes of such 1960's comic-book epics as “Barbarella” and “Danger: Diabolik.” Shot on digital cameras, “Ultraviolet” has a hyper-real look–everything is smooth and glossy–that makes every scene look like an especially wild comic-book page come to life. (At times, I found myself thinking of “Sin City” and “Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,” two great films that also featured distinct visual styles.). The inspiration doesn’t stop there either because every scene has at least one nifty flourish on display somewhere, from the paper cell phones that the characters use to a wildly kinetic rooftop gunfight (in which an unarmed Violet is surround by at least 30 gunmen and still comes out the victor) to a beautifully strange final battle between Violet and Daxus using nothing less than flaming swords that leave pretty little burns with every slash.

What also helps matters here is that, unlike most epic action fantasies of late, “Ultraviolet” realizes that it is utterly absurd and proceeds to tell its convoluted story with tongue firmly in cheek. Sci-fi buffs will recall that Wimmer’s previous effort was “Equilibrium,” another film that had a bold idea (blending the elaborate pyrotechnics and gunplay of “The Matrix” with the plot of “Fahrenheit 411") that was unfortunately done in by an overly dour approach. Here, Wimmer has lightened up the mood considerably and it feels like a much more natural fit. Right from the opening credits, in which the previous adventures of Violet are recounted on boldly illustrated comic-book covers, Wimmer’s screenplay demonstrates a willingness to go for broke without any of the overly solemn pretensions of, say, the “Underworld” films. At one point, Violet defeats a room full of warriors by running up the wall to the ceiling and gunning them down and someone remarks, “She must have some kind of gravity leveler!” Later on, while in the middle of a high-speed chase on her motorcycle, she just matter-of-factly drives right up the side of a skyscraper without batting an eyelash and evades her helicopter pursuer by jumping right through it. Even the dialogue has some wit to it–I liked it when Violet chastises Six after a battle with “What part of those bullets whizzing by your head don’t you understand?”

The other aspect of “Ultraviolet” that sets it apart from other exploitation junk is the central performance by Milla Jovovich, perhaps the only actress working today who has played a 70's-era pothead, a alien being who controls the fate of the universe and Joan of Arc and seemed like pinpoint casting in each of them. Obviously, this is a role that doesn’t require Shakespearian levels of acting but it does require an actress with a convincingly otherwordly appearance and attitude and Jovovich fits the bill perfectly. She is gorgeous, of course (not an inconsiderable aspect in a film like this), but has a distinctively off-beat personality to boot and “Ultraviolet” takes full advantage of both. She is also a convincing physical presence as well–although I am sure that there were plenty of stunt people and special effects involved in the numerous action scenes, she is clearly doing a lot of the work herself and does it with a fierceness and grace that is captivating to watch.

“Ultraviolet” is one of those deranged gems that I like to use as a litmus test to separate real film fans from the pretenders. The pretenders will bitch about ridiculous and over-the-top it is while decrying it as mind-numbing junk while the real film fans–those who realize that the line between trash and art is not as large or as distinct as some would have you think–will relish it for those very same qualities. Many of you reading this will no doubt find yourself siding with the former and I weep for you. Those few who lean towards the latter, on the other hand, are likely to find “Ultraviolet” to be a guilt-free pleasure of the highest order.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=14081&reviewer=389
originally posted: 03/03/06 17:41:06
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User Comments

10/15/17 Carl Martin Film either dwells on Jovovich' looks or on bad swordplay. 2 stars
2/08/13 Yup I think it's a fine film. Not my favorite, but I definitely don't think t's crap. 4 stars
1/21/12 Kyle Not many will like this movie, but it is great 5 stars
9/15/10 the dork knight Is this supposed to be based on those Esurance commericals? 2 stars
10/23/09 Schezarde creative motorcycle side of a building hair/clothes colorChange fire swords pink blast gun 4 stars
11/07/08 darin yuhas i liked the movie i dont care what aney body says there a bunch of idiots! 5 stars
11/21/07 fools♫gold Not like the awesome vampire show of the samename. Lotsa greatstoriesto watchotherthanthis. 1 stars
6/30/07 us Ouch! Can I get a refund on the last two hours of my life? 1 stars
5/10/07 nathan its a very good movie 5 stars
1/22/07 Brian Mckay Best parts = opening credits and Milla's wardrobe. Action is subpar, though plentiful. 2 stars
11/09/06 LJ Great Style Flick, watch it 4 design and effects - no good film stories out now anyway! 4 stars
10/23/06 Browncoat Quite satisfactory 5 stars
10/17/06 sci-fi lover sucked, millas hot, movie is not. Over blown,over directed piece of garbage 1 stars
9/07/06 Jiz Cheesy effects, contrived fight scenes, lame characters, predictable plot. 2 stars
9/06/06 Booksworm Excellent! "V for Vendetta" meets "Underworld"! Reminds me why I go to the movies! 5 stars
8/14/06 Indrid Cold One of the most extreme examples I've ever seen of emphasizing style over substance. 2 stars
7/09/06 charles i hate this crappie movie 2 stars
7/07/06 Rocky Cool looking special effects, modestly entertaining story, repetitive fight scenes 3 stars
6/26/06 noddy was peter watching the same film. worst film i have seen in 10 years. 1 stars
6/04/06 mary awesome 5 stars
4/27/06 Erika Clarkson Milla J & her diarrhea BELONG in a cesspool, but her stinkiest BM is this BAD MOVIE! 1 stars
4/22/06 Don Paco What a load of crap. Someone save Milla from this cesspool! 2 stars
4/21/06 Dominic Chiu Ultraviolet is a piece of Garbage that is not even worth a penny. 1 stars
3/27/06 Danny Johanson Yeah, Craptastic. Pretty... but crap 2 stars
3/16/06 ducka Really bad, but really cool looking 2 stars
3/15/06 malcolm action scenes almost make this movie average, but we've seen it all before 2 stars
3/13/06 JKava Visually tantalizing! Will get posters of Milla. Script is absent however. 3 stars
3/12/06 dieselboise This was one of the worst movies I have ever seen 1 stars
3/10/06 Jim McLennan Enjoyably comic-book, in both style and action 4 stars
3/09/06 Steve Michaud Makes "Aeon Flux" look like "Blade Runner" by comparison 1 stars
3/08/06 Mushuga Meh...no better or worse than "Aeon Flux"...that says it all. 2 stars
3/06/06 Darren Shea Visually stunning, but it seems to revel in its incomprehensibility. 2 stars
3/06/06 RealFilmFan Ultraviolet sucked, so take that Peter Sobczynski. 1 stars
3/06/06 Nightcat Amazing special effects and fighting. Don't watch if you are expecting oscar performances 4 stars
3/05/06 Movie Critic This movie is a piece of shit wrapped in shit. 1 stars
3/04/06 Evil Wolfie Plot makes no sense and the action bits are bland due to PG rating. Should be bloodier..... 2 stars
3/03/06 KingNeutron Very cool, stylistic film; but you really have to understand the director's vision to enjoy 4 stars
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  03-Mar-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Jun-2006



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