Monday, January 30, 2006

Tagline of the week: Courtesy of UltraViolet

I had never even heard a whisper of this movie until last week, when a friend of mine pointed out the one sheet poster amidst his giggling, in the lobby of a movie theatre. I quickly glanced at it, but only long enough to notice that it was a hyper-stylized graphic image of the indomitable Milla Jovovich in huge Fendi like sun glasses. I figured it was some sort of bizarre assassin flick a la Le Femme Nikita, and didn’t really give it a second thought. Then, while doing my periodic scan on the Apple Trailer site, I stumbled upon THIS , the trailer for UltraViolet. I urge you to view it before you continue reading anymore of this blog. You simply must watch the trailer for this film, because you won’t believe it until you see it, and even then you’ll be questioning if it was all a hallucination. My own eyes and ears could barely believe what they were seeing and hearing as the trailer flashed forward on my computer monitor.

Have you watched it yet? Doesn’t it seem incredibly familiar? Remember Aeon Flux ? That crazy futuristic sci-fi movie, which came out less than two months ago?! I find it highly ironic that the big plot reveal in Aeon Flux revolves around clones; how fitting that it should in turn, spawn off its own cinematic clone. I was simply flabbergasted at the outright similarities between UltraViolet and Aeon Flux; everything about them is so congruous. UltraViolet tells the story of a female assassin, who has been “altered” in some way, giving her strength and skill beyond the average human. Her mission is to try to get rid of the fascist government which has taken over earth in the future, after some debilitating virus has crippled the human race. Aeon Flux is quite nearly the EXACT same thing. Another coincidence in a sea of coincidences is the fact that both Theron and Jovavich donned silly raven colored wigs for their roles. Theron’s was an 80’s-esque asymmetrical do, while Jovavich’s make her look like Bettie Page after two months without eating.(and I don’t mean in a good way). But next to UltraViolet, the barely passable Aeon Flux looks like a masterpiece the likes of “A Clockwork Orange”. Not only UltraV’s trailer put together poorly, (using some of the music that was actually in Aeon Flux), but everything that was silly and postured about Aeon Flux seems a hundred times worse in UltraV. Such freewheeling dialogue exchanges such as:

Evil Guy: Are you mental?
Milla: Come and get it!


Milla: I hate humans.
Ambivalent Guy: You used to be human.
Milla: But not anymore, right?

nearly boggle the mind. Wow. I mean wow. This trailer has rendered me speechless. I’ve never had a problem with Jovavich per say. She’s not a particularly remarkable actress, but I actually found the first Resident Evil to be mildly entertaining, and she was somewhat endearing in The Fifth Element. Certainly, her looks are quite striking, and she can put in a decent performance, but something tells me that director/writer Kurt Wimmer, probably didn’t bolster the innate talent she does have. Wimmer, who also did Equilibrium in 2002, another fascist futuristic sci-fi flick, which I had actually never heard of until I looked him up on IMDB , has spent most of his career as a writer. He wrote The Thomas Crown Affair remake, and the adaptation for Michael Crichton’s Sphere (yikes) among other random projects. Truth be told, I know very little about the guy, and don’t have a very informed opinion about his level of talent. Maybe this project has been on his slate for years, maybe it’s his “baby”. But what still seems so incomprehensible to me about all this, are the blatant similarity between UltraViolet and Aeon Flux. I mean the script was probably written and greenlit before they knew if and when A.F. was being released, but even the marketing is disturbingly similar. If I were Sony or Screen Gems, I’d be trying to make that movie look like a sci-fi western, a romantic comedy, a story about a girl and her gun, anything, but the futuristic facist dysptopian setting, where a scantily clad, beautiful woman runs around slaughtering bad guys. Financially speaking, Aeon Flux was a flop, it cost about $60 million, and only made $30 world wide in its eight weeks of release. It’s curious to me that the folks behind UltraViolet wouldn’t take that into consideration, and try to avoid the stink off A.F. as best they could.

I guess I just don’t understand how this sort of thing happens in Hollywood. This certainly isn’t the first time, but if you ask me, it’s worse than Deep Impact and Armageddon, or Finding Nemo and Shark Tale; Aeon Flux and UltraViolet are a hair away from being identical twins. In my mind, I imagine a sort of bizarre game of chicken where by each studio thinks the other is going to flinch or give up first, but ultimately neither does. Cutting together a trailer that wasn’t so completely reminiscent of A.F. would also help. Releasing it with more than two months in between would help even more. Of course, at the end of trailer, there is no date given for it’s release. It merely says “Coming Soon”, and something tells me it might not see the light of day for a long time yet…

As for the tagline? According to IMDB, it’s, “The Blood War is on.”

Whatever that means….


Blogger DoorFrame said...

I'm torn up about this. I, likewise, have never heard of this movie before. The name is awful and the dialogue is awful. The trailer and concept do seem to line up with Aeon Flux. And maybe it was just me, but were the storm troopers wearing body armor made out of glass? That seemed like a tactical error.

So, clearly, there's a number of big, big flaws. But, and I could be wrong about this, I think there's room out there for a hyper-stylized distopian future-world movie. The Matrix was sort of a shot in this direction, but it only took the style aspect so far. Yeah, their clothes were cool, they had neat glasses and cell phones, but it didn't feel like every aspect of every shot was overproduced. I think that that can work, although I admit I can't think of any examples of it working offhand.

Is it too much for every frame of a movie to look like it was individual rendered to look fantastic standing alone? Is it mandatory when we try that we attach a terrible story line to it? Does anybody else remember The Cell?

3:41 PM  
Blogger The New Yorker said...

Actually, I liked The Cell quite a bit, for however groteque it might have seemed to others...

4:09 PM  

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