There is no shortage of vampire stories out there. There’s certainly no shortage of kick butt chicks dressed as sparsely as possible running around in depressed future populated worlds. Underworld, without a doubt, does the combination better than anyone. Ultraviolet makes a grand attempt that really ends up being more of a ride than anything else. Now, I can usually follow the most convoluted storylines, but this one gave me some trouble. It seems that while trying to create a super soldier (where is Mulder and Scully when you need them) the government made a big oops and created something akin to a vampire. Those infected with HGV, (I wonder what connection they’re going for there?), possess extraordinary strength. They also develop light sensitivity and a thirst for blood. After realizing these new hybrid beings weren’t going to quite fit in socially, the plan was to round them up and kill them all. That was the plan, anyway, before the likes of Violet. As part of an underground hemophage movement to survive the genocide, Violet finds herself having to protect a child whose blood might contain a cure or a plague. The inevitable chase through a futuristic city serves more to show off some expensive CG f/x than really further any plot.
Ultraviolet makes the fatal flaw of trying to serve too many purposes. There’s nothing wrong with a thrill ride with plenty of eye candy. Still, Ultraviolet is trying to make too many statements. The obvious HIV inferences, combined with the concentration camp mentality of the totalitarian future, overwhelm us most of the time. Another problem is the f/x are often too slick. More often than not the film just doesn’t appear believable. Now I don’t mean “That’s just not possible” unbelievable. I mean, the picture just doesn’t look real. This is what happens when color correction becomes manic. Everything is so smooth and shiny it looks as though it might as well all have been CG. The action is also almost comical. We’re talking Kill Bill on the believability gauge. She just takes on hundreds of enemies at a time. Before long you’re thinking, Who cares? She’s indestructible. Don’t get me wrong, I rather enjoyed it at times. It’s an over-ambitious thrill ride and nothing more. The problem is, it obviously wants to be so much more than that.
Ultraviolet is presented in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio and is nothing less than stunning to look at. Colors are some of the most vibrant I’ve seen. Again this does tend to lessen the film’s realism considerably. The print is flawless. Black levels are so crisp that there’s an almost infinite amount of detail to every layer of the film’s palette. There’s plenty of eye candy, and it is reproduced in amazing clarity. I’d rank this as close to High Definition of a normal DVD as you’re likely to ever see. Frankly I would be quite impressed if the HD version were significantly better.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is almost equally as impressive. In the sense of quality of sound it is nothing short of superb. The trouble is an overpowering techno soundtrack . Sure, it gives the subs a powerful workout, but it just gets to be a bit much at times. To my pleasure and surprise, there is a dramatic shift to a softer sound music about halfway through the film. This stuff sounds like the orchestra’s sitting right there in my theatre. Never had a CD sound so full. Creative use is made of all 5 channels, and the mix is as aggressive as the non-stop action.
Milla Jovovich provides a drab commentary track. She’s obviously excited about the picture, but it seems like something is nagging at her. Perhaps more was expected at the box office. She would have been better served with another person to bounce off of.
The “extended footage” is a minimal inclusion of extended carnage, but not really any extended gore. It’s not likely to dramatically effect your viewing experience.
“UV Protection: The Making of Ultraviolet” is really pretty lame. We don’t even hear from the director, Kurt Wimmer. This is an unforgivable exclusion. It is the film’s edge and visual uniqueness that makes it everything it is. Without any real discussion about his vision, the short feature is useless.
I love thrill rides. I’ll plunk my hard earned cash down at Disney or Universal at least a couple of times a year. Movie thrill rides are even better, because they don’t cost $70 to get in. I don’t even mind a morality tale mixed in to the fun, just to add that little bit of social value for the folks that need it. Please don’t take me for a ride and include a sermon. As a Star Trek fan, I appreciate science fiction’s unique position to be socially conscious and still entertain. But you know what? The worst Trek stories are when they just get too dang obvious and want to hit me over the head. I don’t like getting hit over the head. Ultraviolet left me with a whopper of a headache. Now I’m not sure if it was that techno pop booming from my 18 inch 200 watt sub, or just getting hit too many times. Still, is it a hell of a ride? “Yeah it is.”
Special Features List
- Commentary by actress Milla Jovovich
- “UV Protection: Making Ultraviolet” featurette
- Unrated, Extended Cut features 7 minutes of footage unseen in theaters