When a young filmmaker likes a movie very much, it’s only natural that he’s going to want to express his feelings somehow, and he might feel certain urges. Now, these urges are perfectly normal and nothing to be afraid of, but the young filmmaker will want to be careful about indulging these urges. A lot of young filmmakers these days are getting pretty loose about when and how they give in to these inclinations. Which is why some older people who understand the wrong path these urges can lead a young filmmaker down are starting to suggest that it might be a good idea to require young filmmakers to sign abstinence pledges.
Abstinence from The Matrix, that is, until they have acquired the maturity to handle the film and know what they’re doing when they succumb to temptation and steal from it.
Because the rampant promiscuity we’re seeing among Matrix fans with three-picture deals is getting pretty disgusting. Don’t these people know that when they steal so shamelessly from The Matrix, they’re also stealing from all the other filmmakers who have stolen from The Matrix, and from all the filmmakers who’ve stolen from those filmmakers, and so on? It’s a recipe for cinematic rot, and we see it already spreading through the movie ecosystem.
Kurt Wimmer is a particularly tragic case, and his Ultraviolet is a sad — and often hilarious — symptom of a quite advanced infection, and clearly one acquired through indiscriminate wantonness. Wimmer is so brazen that he doesn’t even bother to pretend that there’s an original concept here: all his ideas are borrowed from other movies that borrowed from other movies that borrowed from The Matrix, and he doesn’t care who knows it. In fact, he seems proud of the fact that he’s gone so comic-book baroque, so videogame cartoonish that everything on the screen is shorthand for stuff we’ve seen a dozen times in other movies — nothing here makes sense on its face.
Not that it makes sense in the context of a, well, matrix of bad Matrix imitations, either, but it’s only there that Ultraviolet achieves anything close to a semblance of lucidity. Futuristic-fighter-for-freedom-and-justice-in-a-world-given-over-to-a-scientific-fascism Violet — played by Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil, The Claim), who’s not an actor but plays one on TV — can dodge bullets not for any particular reason except that that’s what fighters for freedom and justice in a world given over to a scientific fascism in Matrix-brand movies do. Violet can change the colors of her hair and her wardrobe (what there is of it) with a toss of her head because, you know, she can control the Matrix — it doesn’t matter that there’s no Matrix here. Violet can defy gravity because Neo could, and no amount of crap like — I love this — “How did she do that?!” “She must have some sort of gravity leveler!” can account for her Neo-like abilities except that she simply must ape Neo because Neo was the hero of The Matrix and this is ripped off from The Matrix which was cool because The Matrix was about a guy who was Neo.
It all gets very recursive and starts to hurt the brain, even more than the relentless techno beat of the soundtrack, which helps create the impression that the entire movie was originally destined to be played on monitors in some Eurotrash dance club in, oh, Reykjavik, maybe. It’s the only explanation for the fact that the film is total nonsense: it’s simply not meant to be watched as a movie. That’s why there’s a hand-to-hand combat bit in a cemetery — cuz it’s gothy cool — and why you can’t understand half of what the Eurotrashy vampire guy is saying, because it’s more important that he look Eurotrashy vampirey with his pointy teeth than he be able to enunciate around his accent.
But it doesn’t matter. Because this is a movie about, yes, vampires who are Neo fighting the computers who are doctors. Because it looks like the whole film looks like it was run through a Photoshop Gaussian blur, rendering everyone’s skin smooth and plastic. Cuz it’s cool. Or maybe cuz it’s hiding the crappy CGI. Or maybe both. You’re just not supposed to look that closely at it, or think that much about it. You’re supposed to just go, Whoa.