Ultraviolet (2006)

A vampire resistance fights back against an evil conglomerate that runs humankind’s affairs as a totalitarian regime. But, of course, no-one in this film can lay claim to an honourable motive, except for our heroine. What little plot there is revolves around a MacGuffin everyone wants to get their hands on; not that that really matters….

I just saw Ultraviolet from start to finish for the first time. Having until now only seen bits and pieces of it, I had never realised what a colossal mess this film was.

I decided to watch it in its entirety after having seen Daybreakers, because I knew the society presented in Ultraviolet would serve as an interesting comparison to the one in that film. In Daybreakers, we witness a totalitarian vampire civilisation hunting down the last remaining humans – in Ultraviolet, we have a totalitarian human civilisation hunting down the last remaining vampires (or “hemophages”, as they are called in this film).

This comparison could have been interesting if Ultraviolet had offered anything resembling a plot or an original idea. Instead, all I saw was an assembly of pretty pictures that never amounted to an actual film.

Hemophages are vampires by another name, sharing some but not all of the traditional vampire attributes. Going down the (not really new) route of re-interpreting vampirism as a virus, as Ultraviolet does, always carries the risk of making the disease in question sort of random, and arbitrarily exchangeable. Nothing in this film would change if this was a completely different dangerous virus, a non-vampiric virus. It could be anything, swamp things, zombies, you name it.

In fact, Ultraviolet is (deliberately and brazenly) getting dangerously close to Resident Evil territory. T-Virus anyone? In fact, everything seems like a carbon-copy of the Resident Evil franchise: the casting of Milla Jovovich; the nature, personality and abilities of the film’s heroine; the premise including a virus outbreak and a totalitarian world run by a shady, evil, and duplicitous organisation; the looks and choreography of the fight scenes; the aesthetics of the sets, weapons and costumes; etc.; etc. If you want to know what Ultraviolet feels and looks like, simply think of it as Resident Evil 2.5, and you get a pretty good idea.

As for the visual aspects, I liked how the world in this film looked. There is an aesthetic language that stretches right through the film, even if a lack of money is often visible. Unfortunately, the CGI very often becomes extremely dismal, especially during fight scenes or other scenes with lots of movement.

As for the fight scenes: they suffer from the “1 bullet against 1 million” syndrome. Hundreds of foes fire thousands of bullets at our heroine, which all miss her; while she only needs a couple of bullets (or a sword) to take out everybody.

That problem and the shaky CGI aside, the fight scenes are for the most part repetitious and boring, and they lack both a decent choreography as well as some “soul”. Watching the fight scenes made me long for the final battle in Serenity, where great choreography, lots of training, and matchless acting/dancing talent combine to create something special, and where the fight scene is actually heart-wrenching and makes sense in every way: within the character’s story arch, and in connection to the plot and the spirit of the film.

But even when you are simply doing action that is supposed just to be “dumb fun” you can still do it in an inventive way, such as Hit Girl’s scenes in Kick Ass, for example.

I found none of the fight scenes in Ultraviolet engaging or fun. And they were by far the most interesting bits of the film. Like in a Resident Evil film, the fight or chase sequences probably make up far more than 50% of the running time. And like a in a Resident Evil film, those scenes simply pass you by without ever entertaining or exciting you.

Since we are listing ever more parallels to the Resident Evil franchise: the story in Ultraviolet is thin, and the plot makes no sense. It is one of those films that mistakenly believe that being vague about something is somehow cool, artsy and philosophical.

I know that the studio cut the running time of this film by over 25% against the wishes of writer/director Kurt Wimmer, re-editing and possible re-arranging scenes in the process. So the film in its current form, which is a complete mess, is something for which the studio has to accept 100% responsibility. However, I must also add that nothing I have seen in this film inspires any hope in me that a different cut by Wimmer would somehow make this an even half-way decent film.

There is absolutely no need for anyone to see Ultraviolet, not for fans of vampire films nor for anyone else.

If you are a hardcore Resident Evil fan (and I know that such people must exist) and you have already seen every single instalment, then maybe you might want to see Ultraviolet, for reasons of completism.

This film is so bad it barely deserves a 2.0 out of 10 rating. If you like some of what has been done visually in this film, maybe you might want to stretch this as far as 2.5 or 3.0 out of 10. Imdb’s current average rating of 4.4 is more than just flattering, it is deceptive.

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