Where do I start? I was going to start the review by saying that words cannot describe just how bad Ultraviolet is but obviously that would mean I’d have to end the review right there. I shall refrain from doing that though. Oh Ultraviolet. What is wrong with you? let me count the ways. 1) Everything. There done. Click the link to see if I can get any more descriptive.
I should say this review will have SPOILERS. I think the term that should be more appropriate would be SAVIORS.
As far as I’m concerned there are two types of bad films. Bad films and memorably bad films. I’d rather watch the latter than the former. This is a variation on the old “so good it’s bad trope” for sure, but I like to think this really separates the shit from the feces. See if a film is unmemorable in every way, if not a single moment evokes any sort of reaction, then it is of lower worth than a memorably bad film. Films such as Batman & Robin, Troll 2 and even Mortal Kombat Annihilation are all at least memorable in their ineptitude. The Adventures Of Shark Boy And Lava Girl, Striptease, House Of The Dead are all examples of films that, for me at least, did absolutely nothing of any worth. They leave you with nothing. No scenes to laugh about with friends. No story element that oddly rang true in amongst the mess. No element of the production that was worthy of even some sort of sympathetic praise. Ultraviolet is very much one of these films.
I first saw Ultraviolet two, maybe three, years ago. I remember thinking it stunk but wasn’t sure why. All I could remember from the film was cameras zooming into reflective shades and Milla Jovovich’s face looking oddly featureless. I couldn’t remember the story, any of the action scenes or how it concluded. I do remember that I had missed the start and so I figured I was a little lost because of that. At least that’s what I thought. Turns out I switched the film on about 30 seconds after the opening credits and therefore was lost because the story was balls. Having just watched the film last night though I’m hoping my short term memory has retained enough for me to describe unto you the plot.
Milla Jovovich plays an improbably named cartoon called Violet Song jat Shariff (Yay WIkipedia! I remembered her name was dumb, just couldn’t remember what it was), Violet is infected with a man made virus which made her become a vampire. Well they call them Hemophages but they have pointy teeth, apparently like blood (despite never being seen to drink any) and some aren’t keen on sunlight. That last ones a bit of an odd issue. It seems to be suggested that Violet is lucky to not be effected by an allergy to sunlight, except every other vampire in the film seems happy to be in daylight. In fact I think there’s only two, maybe three, scenes set at night. Violet somehow tricks a ridiculous amount of DNA scanning, blood taking, security measures to get into some medical companies facility and steal a case which apparently has a weapon in it. She intends to deliver this to some other vampires so they can destroy it. Except she takes a peek inside the case after being told not to by everyone and turns out she wants to save it’s contents. Oh yeah, the weapon/contents is a little boy.
In this future there’s some sort of space age technology that allows stuff to be conjured out of thin air which is how this boy was inside a briefcase. It’s also a useful device for Violet to just pull weapons out of thin air. Bullets even drop out of her wrists to reload the guns. It’s literally a device to allow them to make sure nothing stops Violet looking the height of fashion with her colour changing hair and clothes. Why does her hair and cloths change colour? No idea. It’s never used to give her an edge or to let her blend in. It seems to be chameleonic at some points and at others seems to be a conscious choice. Space age tech like this is all over the place and all of it seems to have one of two purposes. Make Violet look stylish or to make Violet look stylish whilst fighting. She has a frigging belt buckle that allows her to run on ceilings or ride a motorbike up the side of a building. How does all this tech serve the story of Violet? No idea.
If you scratch the surface a little there is the slightest hints of a story involving a paternal woman who can’t have a child wanting to protect a child. The thing is those elements aren’t strung into anything of any worth. The only element they offer is a reason for her to go back to rescue the child at the film’s… I don’t wanna say climax… finale seems too good a word… how’s about at the film’s nearly the end. The child is called Six because he’s a test subject clone thing that’s carrying a virus in his blood to wipe out all the vampires. Except he’s not because he’s actually carrying a virus to wipe out Humans so they’ll all come looking for a cure at the medical corporation run by Daxus, a man with weird robo boogers. Why they couldn’t store this virus in something more practical like say a test tube or a bottle I don’t know. Also the kid is radioactive and/or he has a tracking device. I’m not sure which because I think the writers got the idea of what radioactivity means wrong.
When Violet gets Six back to her friend Garth he finds that there’s no anti-vampire virus in the child but somehow misses the anti-human one. And yes, in a world where characters are called Six and Daxus there’s one random guy called Garth. Garth can’t be too smart for a science guy. In a following scene he finds a magazine Six was looking at covered in loads of chemical and mathematical equations and code. Violet asks what Daxus would want with the child if he doesn’t contain a virus. Garth says he has no idea. Gee, you don’t think that it could be anything to do with all that crap the kid wrote on the magazine because that would certainly throw up some alarm bells with me. Wait… it doesn’t? That stuff isn’t mentioned again. Instead out of nowhere we are given the “he’s really a virus for humans” bit and the display of super genius the kid showed never gets brought up.
Dialogue in this film is bizarre. Something about it feels like it wasn’t written by humans, certainly not by anyone with English as their first language. There’s moments where it feels like there’s parts of the conversation either missing or the characters are talking about 2 different things. Some of the dialogue just sounds wrong, in a no-one would ever talk like that kind of way. It’s hard to describe. There’s a few characters who clearly have a lot of their lines dubbed in too which makes you feel like you’re watching a foreign film all of a sudden.
Visually they clearly had a design they wanted to go for. Everything is clean, clinical and angular. The trouble is it all looks fake. They filmed this on location in Hong Kong and barring a few interiors and a aerial shot of the Oriental Pearl Tower barely anything on screen looks like it was crafted by anything more than a mouse click. There has got to be a ridiculous amount of digital effects shots in this film. The thing that really irked me though is the digital post processing effects. At some point someone decided they wanted to remove all signs of Human life from the faces of every actor in the film. Everyone has been so airbrushed that the film looks like it has a smearing of Vaseline over the lens. Sometimes it really looks like the film is out of focus. In general the cinematography and editing is either hidden behind CGI or just confusingly staged. Most fight scenes seem to involve Violet twirling around randomly while enemies try their hardest to avoid hitting her so she can either shoot or slice them in a bizarrely bloodless manner.
There’s also a few moments that just left me wondering what was happening. Either Violet just turns up somewhere with no connective story tissue to tell you why, or something happens on screen that just doesn’t make sense. In one scene, after cutting her hands up in a fight, Violet fires her gun and uses the heat generated to cauterize the wound. In the very next scene she’s walking along with blood dripping from that hand. The blood is even used in the following fight, So why was that cauterizing scene there? Every scene seems to either lead to people saying disconnected, illogical, stuff or a fight. There has to be about 8-10 fight scenes in this film and none of them have any meaning beyond letting us know that Violet can fight. By the way, she was a nurse before she got infected so where she learned to be a superhero I have no idea. It’s mentioned that the virus makes you stronger and faster but that doesn’t make you a better than 20 guys firing guns at point blank range. Yet somehow she avoids that. And you never see how. She is just either avoiding the bullet when the camera comes back or we see nothing.
I suppose I should try some praise. The title sequence looks like it would have been cool in some other film, like Kick-Ass or Super. Although both of those films had decent title sequences anyway. I liked the bit where the boy dropped his shoe while being hung above the well so Violet could figure out how long she’d have to get to him before he went splat. But that scene was followed by a fight that took longer than the 6 or so seconds she had so there goes that bit of tension. The basic premise of a vampire virus in the future is kind of cool but we already had that story 3 times, The Omega Man being the best of those. Yeah… I’m done.
Overall this is a terrible piece of film making that maybe could have used its concept to better use elsewhere. Everything about this film is ineffective and leaves you with absolutely nothing. No action scene has any weight because they’re thrown at us every 2 minutes after we’ve established that Violet is untouchable. She even comes back from the dead with little explanation. The film looks like Vaseline smeared polygons presented against the framework of whiter than white shite. I reviewed Mortal Kombat Annihilation a few reviews back and that at least has crap I’ll remember years from now. I’ve already forgotten what order the fights went in this, the name of the evil corporation, who those Japanese guys were and … Well now I can’t remember what I’ve forgotten. I hope in a few years I can at least remember that I dislike this film a lot so I can be sure to not watch it again. At least now I have this review to remind me. Thankyou to Paul Acevedo for recommending I watch and review this. I hope your legs fall off. 🙂