Ultraviolet (2006) mini review

based on a comic book?

2006 has been a great year from comic-book-related films, but where does Ultraviolet fit? Still difficult to say, but it is one of the best almost-comic-book movies I’ve ever seen.

In Ultraviolet, There's a war between mankind and the race of vampires that it created. Man, who engineered the disease that created the vampires in the first place, has designed a weapon to eradicate them. Violet (Milla Jovovich) is going to prevent that from happening.

In Kurt Wimmer’s own words (he's the writer and director), the movie is "pure, pure comic book." Without a doubt. From the opening credits to the end credits and (almost) everything in between. Pure action. Pure science fiction. Pure comic book.

If you haven’t seen it, this is a ride in itself, so stop reading here if you want the full effect of the film when you see it for the first time. Suffice it to say that it’s worth watching if you’re an avid comic fan. Of course, the film requires the same amount of suspension of disbelief as you would give a comic book.

Was Ultraviolet based on a comic? If it's not, why does everybody think it is? All the pieces are finally falling into place. It’s like the part of the movie where the main character flashes back to all of the foreshadowing and understands how all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle come together to form a single picture.

  • Kurt Wimmer’s quote from 4 years ago on a message board (before the film even had it's current name):

    I have several scripts...a script called Valkyrie - a sci-fi vampire film. Kind of a female Blade only the hero is a complete vampire - pure, pure comic book.

  • The Film Jerk script review:

    Dialogue, characterization and the settings are all spotty, as it plays out as something more suited to the comic book or videogame form than a major motion picture.

  • The Ain't It Cool News reviewer stating:

    Personally, i've never read the comic (didn't even know it was based on one until the intro), so I can't tell you how true to it this film is.

  • Every Comic Book Film website referencing it:

    Comics2Film: based on an obscure European comic...
    Comic Book Movies: Milla Jovovich’s...upcoming comic book adaptation...
    Superheroes Lives: an actual picture of the comic cover (see right)

  • Mark Bristol's concept art:

I don't feel so bad now; even the writer of the novelization (Yvonne Navarro) couldn't even find the obscure British comic she thought the movie was based on.

I'm sure all of this wasn't intentional marketing on Sony's part, but it all fell together nicely. It looks like you'll be getting a comic book film, and in the end, that's what you get; Ultraviolet has the best comic book feel of any non-comic book movie that I've ever seen.

The film starts with the opening credits and a slew of Ultraviolet comic book covers - different styles, different artists; it ends with the end credits in a comic book font. In between, the movie watches like comic book - it's sometimes difficult to tell if it's live action or animation. The colors are vibrant, and sometimes even the actors have a painted look to them.

Ultraviolet was amazing to watch. The action sequences are poetic. They take some suspension of disbelief, but in the end, it’s worth it. The beginning of the film was intense and engrossing - I was completely hooked - this could be another Matrix. I remember thinking there's no way this movie could get bad.

I was wrong.

For the comic book feel, for the strong beginning and end, I'd be sorely tempted to give the movie a 9/10.

But then there's that part of the film when I should've gone out for popcorn - the middle part.

Unfortunately, Wimmer's strengths don't appear to lie with characterization and dialogue. The middle is rather weak, and easily drags the rest of the film down. Dialogue gets corny. The characters get overly sentimental, and not very believable. This is where the film fails. Fortunately, it picks back up and Wimmer redeems the movie with a climactic ending.

Was it bad writing? Bad directing? Bad acting? It's always hard to tell with these things. I guess it doesn't matter. The biggest disappointment is always with what could have been.

See it if you like comics. Not the indy, down-to-earth, real-life, grim and gritty kind of comics, but the over-the-top, superhero, non-stop-action kind of comics.

Don't see it if you can't handle the disappointment of what could have been a great film turned into a merely good film...


The Premier of Heroes

What happens when a handful of people from around the globe develop uncanny abilities? Some embrace it. Some are confused. Some are horrified. You've got the basics: flying, invulnerability, ability to bend space and time. But then you've got the more obscure: the guy who paints the future; the woman whose mirror image is more than it seems.

Heroes (which premiered last night on NBC) looks to be intelligently-written and fairly creative. And how can you go wrong when it's about superpowers? (Well, I guess a ton of movie writers, directors, and producers can answer that, but this seems to be the exception.) And you've got to appreciate the subtle nod to comic books in the premier episode (X-Men to be exact).

The characters lives are woven together in some rather inventive ways, and I'm looking forward to see how this show will play out.

If you missed it, check it out; there's an encore tonight at 8/7 Central, and it looks like the Sci Fi Channel will be showing the same episodes each week, but on Fridays.


The Fountain Website and Release Date

I previously described the link The Fountain has to the world of comics. Now, the site for the film has been updated and it appears that it has a release date of November 22. This movie looks amazing; the only question now is whether or not I'll be able to drag my wife to it...


"Resembling a Comic Book"

I don't think I'll be adding a category to my reviews, but thought I would note an interesting film that just came to my attention.

Taking place in Paris in 2045, Renaissance is described by its director as a "comic book brought to life"; it's a French black and white animated science fiction film that had a limited release last Friday (September 22nd). And when I say black and white, I don't just mean no color - it uses mostly pure black and white; there is very little in shades of gray, which is mostly used for shading and reflecting effects, according to the director.

Take a look at the U.S. site and watch the trailer. And hope that it comes to a theater near you; I doubt I'll be seeing it in Florence, AL.


Blade: Season One

About 10 days ago now, the finale for Blade: The Series aired. Yeah, I tend to be a bit late on these things; if only this could be a full-time gig. Anyway, I ended up sticking with the entire season. To be honest, had the new seasons for other shows been in full swing, and the new seasons of my cartoons started, Blade probably wouldn't have been interesting enough to fit in the schedule (I don't watch a lot of shows, but Smallville, House, Bones, My Name Is Earl, and The Batman keep me busy enough).

I have to admit that when the show began expanding into detail on the vampire houses, and delving into the characters' histories (particularly Blade's - things like growing up with his father, and how he learned what he was), I was a bit more intrigued. The producers/writers/whatever have done a good job in keeping the show interesting.

Are they going with a second season? Who knows? (More importantly, will I watch a second season? Well, I guess that's just more important to me, I doubt anyone reading gives a crap.)

If you are interested in a second season, here's an interview with Blade (Sticky Fingaz), talking about what can be expected (be warned, it's very vague - not a lot of detail here), and here's a link (at TV.com) that tells you what to do if you want Spike to keep the show on the air.


Krypto the Superdog

Here I was, all prepared to talk about Krypto the Superdog starting a new season on WB on Saturday. Unfortunately, it's only moving to WB, and it's re-airing old episodes. I guess with The Batman season premier and the Legion of Superheroes premier, I just thought this would be a new season of Krypto, too.

To be honest, even though it does star Ace the Bathound, I probably wouldn't watch it on my own. (Although, I probably would have had to pick up this Ace the Bathound to add to my toy collection either way.) Krypto is aimed at the pre-school audience, and the writing and stories can be a bit insipid at times. But, it's the first superhero show I was able to watch with my 3-year-old (now 4) daughter, so, now that we've seen most of the first 3 seasons of Kim Possible, I'm looking forward to something new we can watch. I'm on the fence about whether or not to let her watch The Batman with me. It's got Batgirl now, but it does tend to be a bit more violent.

In related news, the first issue of a 6-part Krypto the Superdog mini came out to comic book stores yesterday. Unfortunately, my store didn't have my copy in, but when it gets here, I'll be able to introduce my daughter to the wonderful world of comic books.


Why Heath Ledger Doesn't Read My Blog

Apparently, the star who's about to play Joker in the next Batman film despises comic book movies, and says so in this interview with Dark Horizons. I'm not going to try to jump up and defend comic book movies, here, especially since I know so many of them are crap. But I guess I would have expected more from someone involved in the arts than to make such sweeping statements (and here I am making a sweeping statement). Maybe I expect too much. I hope he brings more depth to the role than he did to this interview.

Intellectual Quote of the Day
"I actually hate comic book movies, like f***ing hate them, they just bore me s***less and they're just dumb."
-Heath Ledger

Thanks to Comics2Film


Superheroes and Comic Books on Psych

After an extremely short (8-episode) season, Psych is off the air. It's a new show appearing on USA, and it's extremely funny. The only reason I mention it here is that the season finale took place at a comic book convention and the central theme was comic book movies. As a matter of fact, the main characters are investigating the disappearance of someone who blogs about comic book movies. While most of the shows have me rolling on the floor, this wasn't one of the funniest, but the subject matter has to hold a special place in my heart.

If you're interested in the show, USA is running reruns on either Thursdays or Fridays at 1 am (I can't tell; their schedule is a bit wonky; it looks like 1 am falls on the previous date for their schedule, thus 1 am Friday morning falls on their Thursday schedule - I think). According to the schedule on the Psych web page, this episode will air again at 1 am on October 19 (or maybe that's actually the morning of the 20th).


Hollywoodland (2006) mini review

pertaining to comics

On June 16, 1959, George Reeves, known to the world as Superman after appearing in Adventures of Superman from 1952 to 1958, committed suicide. Hollywoodland delves into the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death.

Adrien Brody is Louis Simo, a private investigator who gets pulled into the mystery when it appears the death might not be a simple suicide. The film creatively cuts back and forth between Reeves's life and Simo's investigations. Brody is excellent as the second-rate investigator trying to make a buck, and Ben Affleck is surprisingly good as Reeves. The film explores his well-known affair with Toni Mannix (Diane Lane), wife of MGM executive Eddie Mannix (Bob Hoskins), and his engagement to Leonore Lemmon (Robin Tunney). The cast is perfect; while I've never been overly impressed with her role on Prison Break, Tunney does well as Reeves's fiancée.

It's a completely absorbing, well-made film, investigating the nearly 50-year-old question - who was responsible for the death of George Reeves? His fiancée? His ex-girlfriend or her husband? Or was it Superman himself?

See it if you want to see the best Superman film to come out in 2006.

Don't see it if you're more about the action than the drama.

for further reading, start with the Wikipedia article on George Reeves, and the Straight Dope article on his death


Out with a Whimper

Spoilers (as if you didn't know who would make it through the last episode)

Well, last Thursday saw the sixth (and last) episode of this season's Who Wants to Be a Superhero (I hope we're spared another season). This last episode wasn't any better than the fourth and fifth, which means it pretty much stunk. Feedback and Fat Momma go to "stunt school" and film a few action shots for a corny film shown later on the show to about 18 people at Universal Studios CityWalk. (It looked like they just gathered together people who happened to be there that day.)

I've already said I've commited to getting the comic and watching the movie, but that doesn't mean I have to like it. But, I think if some intelligent and creative folks are involved, they can have some fun with Feedback's superpower of absorbing abilities from video games.

And I still think Lemuria should have won.


Hellboy (2004) mini review

based on a comic

Hellboy is a film about redemption, about Good vs. Evil, about the freedom to choose.

I won't give away the backstory, but Hellboy is a creature from the nether planes who forsakes his namesake and works with the U.S. Government's Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense to fight the good fight against creatures of the dark. That's extremely succinct and sounds almost ridiculous when juxtaposed with that first sentence, but if you want to know more of the story, I'll let you watch it.

Hellboy is slightly reminiscent of Men in Black - besides the rookie joining the secret government organization to fight monsters, I mean. It has a sort of the same flavor - it's dark and funny, it doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's very well done. Ron Perlman makes an excellent Hellboy, and he's joined by such actors as John Hurt, Tom Manning, and Selma Blair. Having recently read Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, I'm surprised at how close they kept to the comic, even down to recognizing a number of quotes (though, being a movie, it does have it's share of departures).

See it if you'd like to see a comic book (anti-)hero brought to life and you're not scared of things that go bump in the night.

Don't see it if wouldn't care for the many occult references in the film.