'Ultraviolet: PG-13 Theatrical Cut'
(Milla Jovovich, Cameron Bright, et al / DVD / PG-13 / 2006 / Sony Pictures)
Overview: Human society has been decimated by a holocaust caused by biological warfare research gone wrong: instead of creating super-soldiers, a genetically-engineered virus turns infected humans into Hemophages, a vampire-like sub-species with enhanced physical abilities. In the infection-paranoid and technologically advanced society that follows, Violet is a singular Hemophage warrior battling the totalitarian dictator who is determined to wipe out her species at any cost.
DVD Verdict: I can't help feel that the 11th of September has affected moviemaking in presenting commentary on the aftereffects of that tragedy. In the case of 'Crash,' it was ethnic relations. Instead of the "war on terrorism," there is a war against viruses and their carriers in 'Ultraviolet.' A mutated virus infects certain people who are called hemophages. To maintain the health security of the people, special squads a scientific-oriented equivalent of Homeland Security under the leadership of the villainous Vice Cardinal Daxus, are sent to hunt down and exterminate the hemophages. Daxus is a stereotypical smarmy cartoonish villain, who has a pair of plugs, or are those filters-through both nostrils. And the presence of white plastic gloves and his unwrapping guns from sterilized packages make him the posterboy for bacteriophobia. Interesting too is the shape of Daxus's headquarters, in a cross, like a cathedral, making germ-freedom into a kind of religion. Yet, a small resistance group has formed. Among them is Violet, or V, a warrior with long jet black hair, glossy midriffed fetish suits of varying colours, a brace of machine guns that look more like staple guns, and a sword with some runes all over the blade. They're very lethal, yet with the exception of some opponents on a rooftop, many of her opponents die without any blood. And even without weapons, she is quite the martial artist a la Crouching Tiger. V, herself once human, until the virus infecting her caused the death of her husband and unborn child-she was pregnant at the time-now hates humans, given how marginalized and persecuted hemophages are. Despite being called hemophages, the only thing remotely similar to vampires is the telltale fangs, which aren't for drinking Transylvanian tea. Some characteristics of their mutations involve conjuring weapons from their bodies and a superior strength. Assigned by the leader of the hemophage underground leader, Nerva, to steal a secret weapon that if used, would kill all hemophages, and which, if not delivered on time, will self-destruct, V passes herself off as a courier. When her cover's blown, she takes on several masked and heavily uniformed black and white-suited guards using her weapons. Yet, when she discovers that the "weapon" is a child named Six, for a reason that becomes clear later in the film, some maternal instincts take over and she flees from Nerva and the rebels, Six in tow. She has to avoid the hoards of Daxus's armed men, and fortunately gets help from Garth, a fellow hemophage and scientist. Despite the comic book style opening sequence, those into PS/2, XBOX style games, and not DC or Marvel Comics collectors, will probably be the biggest fans of this movie. Watching the chase scene where V is pursued after leaving Daxus's headquarters, the peppered bulletholes, copters, shiny sides of skyscrapers all make Ultraviolet a video game on the big screen. And there is a focus on aerial shots, where the however-many assailants surround V in a circle, only to be made digital mincemeat out of them, sometimes set to a pulsing techno score during the fighting or chase scenes, another dynamic of video games. It's been mentioned along with Tron, itself an 80's movie that computerized its characters. I'd also add the sci-fi/noir atmosphere of Bladerunner crossed with Minority Report as another comparing factor. Milla Jovovich's action films have a sci-fi bent to them-e.g. The Fifth Element and Resident Evil. Here, she's a sci-fi guardian of a child, and it's not the acting but her glossy appearance and moves that are the heart of the movie. So, despite the widespread panning by critics, what's my assessment? If one concentrates more on its stylistic merits and Jovovich, rather than plot, then it's worth a look. Those who automatically dismiss it as being another Matrix clone will probably not enjoy it. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
"UV Protection": Making 'Ultraviolet'
Feature Commentary by Milla Jovovich