"So much eye candy your eyes may get cavities. Or something."
If "Ultraviolet" had subtitles and starred someone like Maggie Cheung or, say, Elina Löwensohn about ten years ago, it might get a fairer shake. The movie is blathering sub-pop nonsense from scalp to toes, but, damn, is it fun to look at. Forget the subtitles, even — just turn the sound off, put on the techno or classical music or whatever soundtrack of your choice, and coast on the visuals. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer may not have two original ideas to rub together, but he sure as hell has an eye.I wouldn't go so far as to say that Milla Jovovich can act, but she has a surly supermodel presence and looks comfortable spinning around and waving sharp objects; in this film, that's just about enough. Milla plays Violet, a "hemophage" (vampire) who takes it upon herself to protect a boy (Cameron Bright) carrying lethal antigens in his blood. This involves lots of costume changes, and since Violet is a busy woman, the movie helpfully changes her costumes for her via computer coloring. Sometimes her hair changes too. If you don't like how Milla looks at any given time, wait two minutes and she'll reboot for you.
Ultraviolet frequently lost me; it has the kind of simplistic yet convoluted plot that becomes white noise to my brain. But Kurt Wimmer, whose equally derivative yet eye-boggling Equilibrium was hailed by some (mostly the folks at CHUD) as the greatest thing since bullet-riddled bread, seems to have dedicated himself to making the prettiest pulp ever. Literally every frame has a burnished sheen, and the close-ups are digitally airbrushed — it looks like a high-end comic drawn by Richard Corben or Pete Von Sholly. A scene in which Violet and the boy share a rare moment of respite during a fireworks display — the colors and lights playing moodily on their faces — is gorgeous visual poetry. Directors have been lionized for far less.
Of course, to fully enjoy Ultraviolet you have to agree to overlook its story — which is eminently overlookable — and let it have its way with your eyes. I sympathize with the many charges against the film. "Idiotic," some have said. "Hollow," others say. "How the hell does Milla Jovovich keep getting film work," ask still others. Apologies, but these objections are beside the point of the movie and beyond its purview. It wants only to catch Milla in a variety of poses against lovingly stylized backdrops while she handles weaponry and looks fetching in sunglasses. Which also change color.This is the kind of movie that makes me glad there's a "Worth a Look" rating here. "Ultraviolet" is absolutely worth a look — if not a listen or a thought.