Elektra
ULTRAVIOLET. 2006
Director: Kurt Wimmer

ELEKTRA. 2005
Director: Rob Bowman

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



UltraViolet With a low-end comic book aesthetic, Ultraviolet (2006) looks very much like a comic book scanned into a computer for purposes of animation. It comes off as a cartoon with live-action actors inserted.

Violet is a vampiric hemophage anti-hero super-being. There is a war between the hemophages & the humans, which the hemophages are losing despite their superior strength, intellect, & powers.

A new weapon against the hemophages is rumored to be a virus in the blood of a boy named Six (Cameron Bright). But the same virus may hold the clue to how to restore hemophages to human status.

Violet protects Six through sundry animated action scenes, but as he has a self-destruction protein, he dies despite her best attempts to save him.

There's an evil tyrant, Vicecardinum Daxus (Nick Chinlund), who runs everything & is simply bad, bad, bad like cartoon villains tend to be. He has hundreds & hundreds of warriors protecting him, but Violet says of herself, "I'm a Titan, a Monolith. Nothing can stop me." And despite the computer-generated backgrounds & FX assistance, Milla Jovovich as Violet has a dancer's grace in faking her way through sundry martial arts sequences that are extremely pretty to watch.

UltraVioletIt's fun to see the girl hero pitted one against dozens then against hundreds remaining always untouchable. Not believable, but fun.

When Violet realizes that Six may not really be permanently dead, she makes a raid on the Arch Ministry, which should be suicide but for her won't be.

Swordplay, machine-guns, & kickboxing fill up the majority of the screen time, extremely childish stuff but pokerfaced enough to feel a bit more adult than Power Rangers doing the same stuff. The final one-on-one battle with the Vicecardinum, using swords of fire, is sci-fi-samurai halfway between anime & live action.

It's silly as all get-out but I enjoy Milla Jovovich who has surprising conviction as a cartoon character. Without her, Ultraviolet wouldn't've been much, & it's no big deal even with her. When compared to other films that use live-action characters in an anime environment (notably Immortal, 2003, or Avalon, 2001), Ultraviolet is piss-poor.

It never had a chance of being an intelligent story, but with better art design it could at least have been more of a visual treat. As it stands, nothing but airbrushed Milla herself actually pays off visually, with her abject beauty & her FX chameleonism not honestly backed up with much in the way of convincing environment.



ElektraRather better of type is the comic book tale of Elektra (2005), resurged from death & refashioned the super-assassin, stylishly adapted to the screen with all the grandeur & goofball silliness of the comic book original.

Elektra (Jennifer Garner) is kind of a ghostly ninja sexpot in a bright red burlesque show costume, impossible to take seriously. Yet the script treats her as seriously as any sexpot can be. She first played this character in a much less successful comic book movie, as the nemesis of Daredevil (2003) completely wrecked by the miscasting of Ben Affleck in the title role.

Underneath the dominatrix exterior, as with all male-created superheroines, there's a frightened little girl haunted by her anguished childhood. So we get to see Elektra the killer, Elektra the hot babe, & Elektra who cries herself to sleep at night. She's by no means a credible character, but she's a decent enough masturbation fantasy.

The Millers are a girl & her dad (Kirsten Prout & Goran Visnjic) who innocent befriend Elektra not knowing she's death in high heels. Her latest commission turns out to be to kill this dad & kid, but Elektra rebels against her own profession to instead protect them.

ElektraNumerous plot elements complicate the tale, but all that is inconsequential, as the purpose is to show a knife-weilding woman fighter in sex-trade outfits. It's kind of amazing that Jennifer Garner can pull this off without losing every ounce of dignity.

As a fighting figure, she's surprisingly convincing, compared to similar babelicious cartoon warriors.

The fight choreography is, alas, largely just in the editing & CGI. Still, facial expressions are what sell it, & Garner always looks like she believes she's Elektra, so we can believe it for the length of a movie.

Judging it on its own level, this is good stuff. However, it weakens itself by an old-fashioned Hollywood racism.

Although written with unlearned affection for Asians & Asian martial arts, it's nevertheless just Yellow Peril about an evil Asian secret society out to the control the world, & their even-more-evil cult of black magic ninjas (the cult itself at least is multiracial, spreading the xernophobia around).

ElektraThey are shown as threats exlusively to white people, pitting themselves against against the safety of the white dad & his white teen, with white Elektra's helpers being likewise honkies headed up by one of her original trainers, the blind old warrior stereotype played quite wonderfully by Terrence Stamp.

The racism like the sexism is not ill intended. It's just low self-awareness on the part of lousy writers.

It's easy enough to focus one's attention not on that dreary aspect, but on such ingredients as the flying duel with Kirigi (Will Yun Lee); the unwittily named Tattoo (Chris Ackerman) who has Magic Yakuza Tattoos that come to life; equally goofy-named evil girl in the black dominatrix outfit, Typhoid (Natassia Malthe), whose breath or wave of hand kills all plant or animal life before her, but who manages a suggestively lesbian moment with Elektra upping exploitation value; or the big black thing of stone named, what else, Stone (Bob Sapp), who fights with magic club. Did I mention silliness? Well, I was rivetted.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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