Ultraviolet
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Ultraviolet

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Remember those math word problems we all had as a kid? Well here’s one for you. If a train carrying Aeron Flux leaves LA at 100 mph and on the same track another train with Selene from Underwold leaves New York heading west at 120 mph, what happens when they crash together? The answer is Ultraviolet. This film is not a simple merger of the aforementioned flicks, they where rammed together to create this one. We get a futuristic city run by a militaristic, repressive government and a beautiful young woman trained to kill looking to bring it down. In the particular case the feisty young woman in question is Violet Song jat Shariff (Milla Jovovich). Like a growing part of the population she was been infected with HPV, HemoPhagic, called Hemophages. Virus which has a list of unusual symptoms and side effects. The virus confers on its victim incredible, almost super human strength, speed and agility. Many infected with HPV also demonstrate heighten senses and greatly enhanced intelligence as well as very rapid healing. On the down side they do become photophobic, extremely sensitive to light. There is also the little matter that the life span of a person infected is about twelve years. They also have calcium deposits on their teeth that give the appearance of fangs. It turns out that the virus was genetically engineered by the U.S. Government using a rare pathogen that allegedly was the basis for all the stories about vampires. The original purpose was typical enough, build an army of super human soldiers. If the government thinks they are having a difficult time meeting recruitment quotas now just add the slogan ‘We’ll make you a super hero but you’ll die in a dozen years.’

Because the government is set on persecuting and hunting down the Hemophages they have little recourse but to form an underground of sorts. Violet is under the command of Nerva (Sebastien Andrieu) and ordered to retrieve a weapon vital to the conflict. After taking on a small army Violet discovers that the weapon in question is actually a little boy, Six (Cameron Bright). The boy has certain ‘special attributes’ that has both sides killing everything in sight to get him back. His blood has antigen that can prove to be the cure for HVP. Every gorgeous super hero needs a vile arch-nemesis and for Violet he comes in the persona of Vice Cardinal Daxus (Nick Chinlund). While the details are not really too evident he seems to head up the military arm of the Food and Drug Administration. I used to work for the FDA as a teen and never saw anyone with guns. There were a lot of white lab coats but no guns insight. The forces that Daxus sends after Violet leave a lot to be desired. They appear to have no real combat skills are a much too easy for our lithe heroine. Of course, to be fair here, Violet not only has her virus induced marital arts skills but a plethora of futuristic devices to help out. There is dimensional compression which allows you to hide a small armory in a bracelet. A long sword can pop out of a little band, even more impressive that how McCloud from the Highlander series pulling a sword from his tight outfits. Then there is gravity leveling, a device that redirects gravity to allow her to fight while standing on walls or even the ceiling. There are also some pretty good hybrid weapons such as an automatic gun with a sword, sort of a futuristic bayonet. It’s corny but kind of cool.

The theatrical version of the film was apparently heavily cut to bring it down from the dreaded ‘R’ to a more family friendly PG-13. This completely destroyed any hopes of the story having any continuity. The unrated version presented on the DVD does hold together a bit better. The plot, what there is of one, has been done better in other films. The X-Men series is an intelligent examination of a government bent on registering or, more recently, curing human mutations. With this film the conflict between the resistance and the government is not played for emotional impact. Instead it is just the setting for one CGI battle after another. While a plot is often not necessary for an action flick having one would have held the film together better. These battles are repetitive; it seems that the fights are on a loop that is almost randomly spliced into the film. The writers do try to soften the bridges between the action sequences with a little story of how Violet becomes attached to Six. Again, this has been done before and done far better. If it was played as a reversal of Leon (or the Professional here in America), with the woman killer teaching a young boy to survive, some interest may be generated. Writer/director Kurt Wimmer has stated that he was influenced by John Cassavetes’ 1980 classic, Gloria. I have been a fan of Mr. Cassavetes for many years and you sir are no Cassavetes. The relationships between Violet and Six comes no where close to the emotional bound form by Gloria and Phil.

One thing this film does have working for it is the cast. While Milla Jovovich basically portrayed the same character in a much better way in the Fifth Element, here she shows that the intervening years has not diminished her ability to kick butt in an action flick. Like her other role Ms Jovovich dons wears little with the exception of her brightly colored wigs. While she has demonstrated talent as an actress here she is relegated to being a video game character. Men can try to make a case that her role shows female empowerment so they can watch the movie in front of their wives or girlfriends but guys, the ladies are not stupid, they know we are they to check out Milla’s incredibly agile body. In Fifth Element at least she was able to show she has a natural sense of humor, something this film was in dire need of having. Nick Chinlund may chew at the scenery as Daxus but he actually works as an over the top villain. There is a little irony here that his character is more germ phobic than Howard Hughes but he brings it to a new level with little touches like having his gloves tailored to match his suits. Young Cameron Bright seems to be starting his career being type cast as either a mutant or a clone. (He’s in the new X-Men and was in Godsend.) He has the unemotional stare down to an art form. Most men would envy the little tike considering the leading ladies he has been opposite. One notable performance is given by William Fichtner. He manages to emote despite the script and as usual, is fun to watch.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is offering this film is several versions. There is the basic PG-13 theatrical release as well as an unrated version. Considering the PG-13 version is hacked to more pieces than a villain in the flick do yourself a favor and go with the unrated variation. The price different is about a dollar list price so this should be a no-brainer. For about $7 more Sony also has bother versions packed with Resident Evil. For that price the two films are a great buy. Typical of most Sony DVD releases the technical specifications are top notch. The anamorphic video is brilliant. The color balance is realistic with excellent contrast. The Dolby 5.1 audio will fill the room during the many fight sequences. This is another action flick that is good for a beer and pizza gathering on a rainy summer day.

Posted 5/21/06

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