quick review: Ultraviolet

Underappreciated and often unfairly maligned by critics, Equilibrium remains even today a b-movie in the best sense of the term; a compelling cult object. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer successfully brought together a solid cast (Christian Bale, Sean Bean, Emily Watson) in a dystopian sci-fi actioner notable for stylish set design and inventive fight scenes (including the nifty imaginary martial art of “gun kata”), enough to justify considering the word “visionary.” Some called the script a derivative cheat, but I see a skillful synthesis of various influences and ideas from classics including 1984 and Fahrenheit 451. Crucially, the film works because the narrative is clean and the characters are sufficiently developed to give us reason enough to care.

So what happened with Ultraviolet? Structured like a video game and stylized like a comic book, we get occasional flashes of the architectural vision Wimmer is capable of wielding so effectively on the screen. The sets and costumes offer compelling modern imagery boosted by genuinely nifty sci-fi ideas like dimensional collapsing technology that works like a TARDIS or a magic bag from Harry Potter. But the fight scenes are repetitive – the title character, Violet, too often begins circled by her faceless enemies – and often jarringly edited to confusing effect. Hopes of seeing more gun kata are dashed by the lack of cleanly defined action. Distressing, however, is the script, which fails to come together on account of an inarticulate and unimaginative plot, sparkless characters furthered hindered by uninspired performances, and a tendency towards explanation rather than demonstration. If Wikipedia is to be believed, the film suffered tremendously from studio interference, the scourge of writers and directors everywhere. Wherever the failure lies Ultraviolet is a barely watchable mess of film whose potential is largely unrealized.


Shaking Shenoy said...

totally missed Ultraviolet.. didnt know it was Wimmer. Still think Equilibrium is an Excellent film!!

Frederik Sisa said...

It's safe to skip Ultraviolet and just enjoy Equilibrium again. Besides, who needs another movie about mock vampirism?