Ultraviolet (AU - DVD R4)
Brett Anderson takes a look at the Sony release of the Kurt Wimmer feature film
Several years ago Writer Director Kurt Wimmer scored big points with many film buffs and critics with his fantastic sci-fi action flick Equilibrium. Despite good reviews and a good internet vibe, the film was only granted a limited release and flopped at American box office. Despite decent takings in the UK, the film went on to be a direct to video film in most other countries, Australia included. Despite this the word spread and Equilibrium went on to become a cult favourite. It was only a matter of time before we saw a follow up from Wimmer.
This brings us to Ultraviolet. Like Wimmer’s previous film, this is set ‘in the near future’, where the government has attempted to create an army of genetically advanced super-soldiers. Instead, they gave birth to a vampire-like virus. Those infected, known as hemophages, are considered a danger to society and are hunted down. Enter Violet (Milla Jovavich), a hemophage who is working to fight back against her government oppressors. During a sabotage mission, she comes across a young boy who is considered the ultimate threat to the future of hemophages. Having had her child stolen from her, Violet feels a maternal duty to defend this child and to find out what the governments plans really are. Cue many action scenes!
As one can probably tell, Ultraviolet absolutely sticks of Equilibrium. The plots are very similar in the sense that you have a well trained hero who fights and oppressive government using unusual yet highly effective fighting skills. This is the films biggest drag in terms of plot. It seems that Wimmer was so happy with his first film that he’d though he’s change just a few things and try it all over again. However, trying to piece together elements of Equilibrium that worked into a new film makes this very messy and disjointed. The action scenes feel very forced and make the films momentum very jagged.
Not helping are the films absolutely appalling special effects. The opening credits establish that this is based on a comic book, but even still, for a film with a thirty-plus million dollar budget it frequently looks like a Looney Toons show crossed with an episode of South Park. Was this meant to reflect the films comic book origins? Who knows, it’s not really made clear.
One can’t be too harsh however, as word is that Wimmer produced a film that was much smoother and character driven, However the studio put pressure on him to dumb the film down and pump up the action. Because of this pressure, Wimmer reportedly had to cut around thirty minutes of character and plot development. Perhaps one day we will see a directors cut? This rumour is easy to believe, especially since the current cut clocks in at around seventy-nine minutes (excluding credits).
Perhaps it is because of these cuts that Ultraviolet’s plot is so messy. We jump from one place to the next without any real sense of flow. We also get very little from our hero Violet. Milla Jovavich does well in a role she has played before in Resident Evil, but all we get from Violet is the maternal angle, which is driven forward so much that it gets stale quickly. Can we know a little more about her please?
Even though Equilibrium showed us some very well conceived and inventive action sequences, this film seems to struggle to deliver in the same fashion. Wimmer tries to keep the action fresh and original, but in the end we still feel like we are watching another director trying to rip Equilibrium off as only one in three action scenes hits the desired target. Don’t be fooled though, those one in three are pretty darn good. Violet’s sword fight in a church and her gunfight in a library are very nice. Despite horrible CGI the sequence of her riding her bike alone a building wall is also lots of fun.
Ultraviolet seems to be a missed opportunity. There is plenty of room here for a decent film but so much seemed so wrong that it was hard to get into it as deep as Equilibrium. Hopefully one day we will see this rumoured directors cut and it improved on these many missed opportunities. For now, we get this cut which is worth checking out if you saw Equilibrium, but otherwise you might not find much to like here.
Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, the film looks very good. There are many different colours used in the film, which do make it quite a visual feast. Each looks great and are perfectly contrasted. There is little interference from those ever-so annoying film artefacts and the grain levels are near non existent (I may have seen some pixilation at times but I’m not sure it wasn’t my imagination). Overall a very nice video transfer.
The English 5.1 Surround track is very nice. Everything sounds lovely. There are no sync slip-ups. Dialogue is nice and clear and never drowned out by the surrounds, which are put to good use. Ambient sounds are absolutely brilliant and some of the bullet action is made a little more intense by having them sound like they’re flying past your head. The sub also benefits the music track and the numerous action sequences. A fun action film surround track.
First off is an audio commentary by Milla Jovovich. Although Milla is lovely, she seems a little lost for words here, as there are lengthy periods of silence throughout. Why Kurt Wimmer wasn’t involved is a mystery. Maybe was has unhappy with this supposed ‘tainted’ cut of the film? If so, why didn’t he join the commentary and tell us about it!?
There are a few deleted scenes which include an alternate opening. Not much here, but may be interesting if you have a soft spot for the film. Finally there is a making of feature called ‘UV Protection’, a half hour look at the film that is interesting, but not mind-blowing. Overall not too bad, but it seems like there could have been a little more here.
Ultraviolet seems a missed opportunity. If rumours of a Wimmer directors cut are true, maybe there is hope, but for now we get a just average action flick which lacks the character development and cohesiveness to keep it together. Fans of Wimmer’s earlier work may enjoy it, everyone else should approach with caution. The DVD is a tidy little package with a lovely audio and video transfer and some decent, if slightly neglected extras.
Review by Brett Anderson
Recommended for mature audiences.
Release Date: 16th August 2006
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English, Greek, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swedish, Turkish
Extras: Making-of, Commentary, Deleted Scenes
Easter Egg: Yes
Director: Kurt Wimmer
Cast: Milla Jovavich, William Fichner
Genre: Action and Sci-Fi
Length: 84 minutes
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