Arts Netflix Mon Amour: Ultraviolet
One of the wonderful things about Netflix is freedom from Bad Rental Guilt: the act of putting a movie in my queue and receiving it in the mail is so passive…so disposable…that I’ll watch anything.
Case in point: Ultraviolet, a movie released earlier this year to reviews so bad that only masochistic perverts—both the celeb-horny wankers (Milla Jovovich’s ass appears for .2 seconds somewhere in the first reel) and helplessly indiscriminate sci-fi consumers—came out for the half-a-week that it was in theaters.
But then came Netflix. I threw it in my queue—in between watching things like the excellent BBC adaptation of Bleak House, I have taken to watching very bad action movies with my finger on the skip button, self-editing them into moral-less, plot-less forty-five minute mashes of comically misguided badassery. And I will explain why you should watchUltraviolet in this fashion immediately following the jumpy-button, below.
Don't get me wrong: Ultraviolet is a mess. It is by no means good. Nor is it so-bad-it's-good. The entire middle of the movie is a talk-fest that tries to find meaning where none exists. The middle forty-five minutes should be entirely skipped. But! But.
A major selling point, for me, is that the special effects sometimes look so bad and unreal that they begin to hit some sort of artistic merit; the action collages are a cross between a car commercial and a perfume commercial, with a stupid Matrix rip-off caught in the middle. Because Milla Jovovich has a magical belt buckle, even the laws of gravity fail to operate, and her swirling, leaping and diving become utterly meaningless, with no cause or consequence, which is sometimes the very definition of beauty.
And then there's the dialogue, particularly between Milla and the head bad guy, who wears nose plugs for the entire movie. Said bad guy, a man in a suit with no real motivation, proclaims "You're mental!" at one point. And then he announces: "It. Is. On." Pithy Milla rejoinders "Yeah, it is!" A futuristic computerized metal detector scans Milla at one point and announces, in a chirpy female robot voice: "Number of weapons found"...long pause..."Many!" Milla asks the super-creepy boy actor Cameron Bright "What part of those bullets whizzing by your head don't you get?" This is after she declares "Don't overthink it!" And then she looks directly into the camera, presumably into the eyes of each member of the thronging masses watching the film at home and in the theaters and declares, in case you didn't already know: "I am a titan, a monolith. Nothing can stop me." Oh, yes. Of course you are!
But the best reason to watch Ultraviolet in skip-truncated fashion is the commentary, which is delivered by Ms. Jovovich, who is a certified stone-cold idiot, and her two little yappy dogs. She can't seem to stop ending her sentences with question marks? Except for during the fight scenes, which she adds to with assured sound effects, like "Psssssssshaow!" and "Byeaow!" She marvels at the science fiction, but mostly she whines about how hard being an action star is. "This was hard. it was just...really hard?" she says at one point, and at another: "This sequence was really hard?" "I actually did that stunt, but you can't see it's me because of the lighting?" she pouts. She cheers herself on with "Yay!" and "Whoo-hoo!" And she's especially excited to see herself "revolving like a cuisinart," even though that sequence was "um, hard?"
I can't exactly explain it myself, but I loved the experience of watching a vapid, pretty bit of faux-nothing being narrated by a vapid, pretty bit of faux-nothing (and her very well-behaved pair of mini-maltese). And now I'm going to put it in an envelope and mail it away and never think of it again. Thanks, Netflix!