‘West Side Story’ with vampires | PostIndependent.com

‘West Side Story’ with vampires

Appropriately enough for yet another movie about a vengeful vampire hottie, the makers of “Ultraviolet” didn’t stop after others already bled the idea dry.The premise wouldn’t seem to hold much life after “Blade” and its two sequels, “Underworld” and its sequel, and “Elektra” (a sequel that wouldn’t surprise me to have a sequel of its own on the way): hero/heroine with supernatural/otherworldy powers finds herself in the middle of a war of world domination between good and evil/vampires and werewolves/vampires and OCD neat freaks.Even though the film industry – somehow – managed to survive for a few decades before exploring that particular conceit, it’s grown a little tiresome over the past few years. And while it’s hard to make a case for “Ultraviolet” handling the suddenly shopworn concept perfectly, it at least does it with aplomb.It’s not the “Aeon Flux” clone I was dreading, even though that’s what the trailers certainly make it look like. The plot pinions assassin Violet (Milla Jovovich) between similarly afflicted plague survivors called hemophages (which, since it means “blood eater” has something to do with their having sharp teeth and other characters calling them vampires) and scientists trying to end the plague and destroy the hemophages.One thing I couldn’t figure out is whether “Ultraviolet” came from the world of graphic novels and comic books, as the credits suggest, or if Violet sprang fully formed out of director Kurt Wimmer’s mind. It moves so quickly that it’s hard to be clear on some of the action, like exactly who are the Blood Chinois who pop up intermittently, usually to die. But it’s reasonably clear. Even better, the characters don’t blather on about the finer points like they do in “Underworld,” because there’s fighting to do.The action choreography starts out as a strength but quickly loses its edge, simply because it becomes increasingly difficult to believe anybody’s a match for Violet. By the end, it’s more choreography than action – basically “West Side Story” with vampires, soldiers and one very determined bike messenger.Jovovich, on the other hand, is a highlight. Unlike too-wholesome heroines Kate Beckinsale and Jennifer Garner, she has enough snarl to make Violet a believable anti-heroine: The Internet Movie Database (imdb.com) reported that Wimmer asked her to punch him to get a feel for the intensity of the action sequences – and directed the next several days with a black eye.”Ultraviolet,” true to its name, looks bold and bright, too. Instead of copying the dreary steampunk ethic of other sci-fi clones or the sexy-Goth aesthetic of the vampire canon, Wimmer chooses a bright palette of primary colors and a post-Mod look.Even if it’s not a new concept anymore, “Ultraviolet” finds a way to suck some life out of it.She Says reviewer Kimberly Nicoletti is on vacation this week.

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