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HTF REVIEW: Ultraviolet: Unrated Extended Cut



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#1 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 28 2006 - 06:44 PM


Ultraviolet: Unrated Extended Cut

US Theatrical Release: March 3, 2006 (Sony Pictures/ Screen Gems)
US DVD Release: June 27, 2006
Running Time: 1:34:38 (29 chapter stops)
Rating: None (Has lots of stylized action violence, a little blood, the occasional cuss, and some brief tushie action)
Video: 1.85:1 anamorphic (Extra Features: 1.33:1 non-anamorphic)
Audio: English DD5.1 (Extra Features: English DD2.0)
Subtitles: English (Extra Features: None)
TV-Generated Closed Captions: English (Extra Features: None)
Menus: Some transition animation, which may be skipped.
Packaging: Standard keepcase; insert features cover images from other Sony DVD titles on both sides.
MSRP: $28.95

THE WAY I FEEL ABOUT IT: 2/5

Going into a film with low expectations is always an interesting experience. Will the lowered bar compromise objectivity? If I enjoy the movie, can I be sure that I’m not just subconsciously giving it the benefit of the doubt? Ultraviolet, the latest episode in the Hot Vampire (sorta) Chick Kicking Ass genre, raises these questions with a thrilling opening, but then puts them to rest by eventually sinking in a sea of foolishness.

The film begins on just the right note, with a fantastic credit sequence involving various styles of comic book art. This is a good sign that it’s not going to take itself too seriously, a promise that it doesn’t always live up to. This is followed by a brief but cool action sequence that’s tangentially related to the story and about 15 minutes of expository voiceover to set the scene. Once that’s out of the way, things kick into high gear.

Our heroine, Violet (Milla Jovovich), lives in a futuristic world of concrete and gleaming skyscrapers. She suffers from a strange virus that grants folks superhuman strength and speed while rendering them highly sensitive to light and eventually killing them. Those who suffer from this disease, dubbed “Vampires” by the press due to the bizarre (and, dare I say, contrived) side effects of enlarged canine teeth and a requirement for frequent blood transfusions, are outcast from society to the point of actually being rounded up and spirited off to camps from which they never return. (If the images used to illustrate this point bore any more resemblance to certain events that took place about 70 years ago, they’d be stretching the bounds of good taste.) The remaining “Vampires” have formed a resistance to fight back against the (wait for it) Evil Medical Establishment, which is ruled by the nefarious Vice-Cardinal (!) Daxus (Nick Chinlund) from his enormous crucifix-shaped (!!) headquarters. Are those black-clad, machine gun-toting troopers the evolutionary descendants of HMO actuaries? Take two aspirin and a wooden stake, and call me in the morning!

Speaking of cheesy one-liners, Ultraviolet isn’t going to set any records, but it has its fair share of them. Between this picture and the Resident Evil series, they appear to have become Ms. Jovovich’s forte. (Now that she’s found her niche in entertainingly crazy sci-fi action, I can almost forgive her for The Messenger.) When Daxus informs her that he has 700 adjusters – whoops, I mean soldiers – waiting for her and asks what she thinks she’s going to do, she responds, “I can kill them.” When she actually shows up and faces the vast ranks of masked gunmen, Daxus asks simply, “Are you mental?”

The extended action sequence that runs through the first half of the film is full of highly stylized stunts and effects that perfectly fit the comic book atmosphere set up by the opening credits. Violet sneaks into an incredibly secure (or so they think!) facility to steal a powerful weapon that could wipe out the “Vampires” (sorry, I really have to keep using quotes with that term) and has to fight her way out. Don’t trouble yourself with the question of how she manages to fool all of the high-tech identification and scanning equipment; just try to enjoy the visuals. Granted, some of the effects are less than convincing, but they work all right within the context of the stylized comic book atmosphere.

For a while, the spectacular shooting and smashing is enough to carry the story, which contains a number of elements that don’t quite hold up to close logical scrutiny. However, as Ultraviolet progresses, it lets up on the action and loads up on the clichéd and not terribly interesting plot devices. In addition, none of the action towards the end of the film can compare to the set pieces that came earlier. Violet dispatches preposterous numbers of enemies throughout; however, she appears to exert less and less effort with each battle, and it eventually becomes rather tiresome, not to mention less exciting visually. In fact, the big gimmick in the climactic showdown between Violet and Daxus, which probably looked great in storyboards (and would have been perfect for a comic book), just doesn’t work on the screen. It’s more confusing than intense.

If there is a point at which this flick could be said to kill any chance of redeeming itself, it comes around the 70-minute mark with a scene that's such a non-sequitur, I assumed that it was a dream sequence. It's such a jarring change from what came before it, and it ends so ridiculously, that no other explanation could make sense. But no -- we're asked to buy it. Bad move. (I'd be interested to know whether this scene was even in the theatrical cut; it'd be trivial to replace it with something reasonable that gets the story to the exact same place.)

The steadily decreasing quality of the set pieces in this film is a flaw that simply can’t be overcome by the throwaway plot, which is a shame. Had that slope pointed in the opposite direction, building up from good to great action instead of sinking from great to lame (and sparse) action, then Ultraviolet might have worked.


THE WAY I SEE IT: 4/5

Ultraviolet has a heavily processed look that combines a lot of CGI with the background of Shanghai’s actual business district. It’s very artificial and surreal, but that is almost certainly intentional. The generally high bit rate manages to preserve a good amount of detail amidst the rich, saturated colors. There are occasional moments where digital effects such as EE can get a little distracting, but they are the exception, not the rule.


THE WAY I HEAR IT: 4/5

The soundtrack works very well, although it falls shy of being truly awesome. The energetic score features an immersive surround mix that carries things along at a brisk pace. The surround and LFE channels are applied to the effects to an extent, but they lack that extra oomph that would really blow people away.


THE SWAG: 1.5/5 (rating combines quality and quantity)

Commentary With Milla Jovovich and her two dogs

Milla is her usual entertaining self here, with one major exception – about 75 minutes' worth of dead air. I kept forgetting that I was actually listening to a commentary. She oughta be ashamed of herself. And her little dogs, too!

UV Protection: The Making Of Ultraviolet (30:51)

This featurette is divided into four parts, although their names aren’t listed on the menu – there are just “Part I” through “Part IV” and a “Play All” button. Some of the interviews are hokey, and there are perhaps a few too many film clips, but there’s also a good amount of neat behind-the-scenes footage. Overall, it’s worth watching.

Trailers

When the disc is first inserted, the trailers for Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, MirrorMask, and Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing And Charm School play automatically. They may be skipped.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (2:26) (DD2.0; 2.35:1 anamorphic)
  • MirrorMask (1:55) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
  • Marilyn Hotchkiss Ballroom Dancing And Charm School (2:27) (DD5.1; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
  • The Fog (2005) (2:13) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
  • The Benchwarmers (2:30) (DD2.0; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
  • Talladega Nights: The Ballad Of Ricky Bobby (2:10) (DD5.1; 1.85:1 anamorphic)
SUMMING IT ALL UP

The Way I Feel About It: 2/5
The Way I See It: 4/5
The Way I Hear It: 4/5
The Swag: 1.5/5


Ultraviolet looks and sounds really cool, and for a while it acts really cool as well. But its second half is so devoid of fun that the whole experience is pretty much spoiled. (According to IMDB, the film was re-cut by the studio without input from director Kurt Wimmer – whether his original version worked better or was even worse shall remain a mystery, at least for now.) The disc is of near-SuperBit quality, and the making-of featurette is nice, but the commentary is embarrassingly bad. Give it a rental if you like, but don’t expect too much (at least after the first big action sequence).
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#2 of 44 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted June 28 2006 - 11:32 PM

Fabulous review Aaron, great, great film. Looking forward to the 3 hour director's cut. Posted Image


Okay I liked it. I'm easy to please what can I say? I'm a junk cinema addict (wink), especially if Milla Jovovovich is starring, and kicking ass. Would I have liked it as much if she wasn't in it? Probably not. I can watch Milla in anything. She would have made a far more effective Aeon Flux than Charlize Theron, who looked frankly embarrassed in that (and who can blame her?) Milla, bless her, would have had a ball as Aeon.Posted Image

Posted Image

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#3 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 03:17 AM

Thanks, Steve! Glad you liked the review. (BTW, I added another paragraph that I somehow forgot to put in when I posted it!)

I actually agree with you about Milla, who knows exactly how to handle this sort of role. I really enjoyed both Resident Evil films. Her anemic commentary on this disc was a major disappointment.

Of course, she's still responsible for one of the worst leading performances in the history of cinema, which practically killed her ex-husband's directing career!
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#4 of 44 OFFLINE   Jon Martin

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Posted June 29 2006 - 03:18 AM

Did anyone see the theatrical and "unrated" cut? What is the difference? The unrated cut would probably just be PG-13 as well.

Not a good film (and I would have positive things to say about the RESIDENT EVIL series) but I will say the look of the film is pretty cool. I'm a long way from buying into Blu Ray, but if I had one, this may be a good title, as far as visuals go.

#5 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 03:20 AM

I'm betting that Steve will be able to fill us in on the differences. Posted Image I believe that this disc is about 5 minutes longer than the theatrical version.
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#6 of 44 OFFLINE   Scott-S

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Posted June 29 2006 - 03:32 AM

I watched this yesterday. I have to admit I didn't hate it. I guess I enjoyed the style, and the action. I didn't like the motorcycle stunts. They didn't work for me, but the fighting was really interesting.

I too have to admit that I love Mila in these types of movies. I was really disappointed that her commentary was so boring. I loved the commentary track on Resident Evil and was looking forward to this one. But, since it was just her, it was so boring that I only watched about 5 minutes of it.

I think there needs to always be at least 2 people together doing a commentary. Like the way she was with Michele R. in the Resident Evil commentary. Plus, just like in the RE one, they need to be liquored up. Posted Image
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#7 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 03:50 AM

I was really disappointed that her commentary was so boring. I loved the commentary track on Resident Evil and was looking forward to this one. But, since it was just her, it was so boring that I only watched about 5 minutes of it.

Don't forget the dogs! Posted Image But seriously, she actually did say some interesting things on the track -- it was the 15-minute pauses between comments that pretty much ruined it for me.
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#8 of 44 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted June 29 2006 - 04:09 AM

Yeah her commentary track with Michelle Rodriguez on Resident Evil was entertaining. Aaron I didn't notice much of a difference between the rated and unrated, a couple of extra scenes and a little more violence but sadly no nudity unless I somehow missed it. I wonder how much was cut by the studio. The film just flew by.

The previous film by director Kurt Wimmer was the underrated and far superior Equilibrium starring Christian Bale, and Ultraviolet uses some of that films futuristic and visually effective martial art style Gun Kata, which now has it's own entry in Wikipedia would you believe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gun_Kata

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#9 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 04:33 AM

sadly no nudity unless I somehow missed it

You're forgetting the tuchus shot from the scanner scene at the beginning of the movie. Posted Image

Aaron I didn't notice much of a difference between the rated and unrated, a couple of extra scenes and a little more violence

(Next question contains a semi-spoiler)

Was the playground scene in the theatrical cut? That was the bizarro part that I at first thought was a dream sequence.

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#10 of 44 OFFLINE   Steve Christou

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Posted June 29 2006 - 04:52 AM

Aaron my memory's like a sieve, but I'm pretty sure that's one of the 'extended scenes'.

I forgot the scanner scene, let me post a screenshot hang on...

Dave hören... auf, wille stoppen sie Dave... stoppen sie Dave... Mein gehirn geht... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin gefühl es... Ich bin ängstlich Dave... Guter Nachmittag. Ich bin ein HAL 9000 computer. Ich wurde funktionsfähig am HAL-Betrieb in Urbana, Illinois auf January 12 1992.


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#11 of 44 OFFLINE   Jack Johnson

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Posted June 29 2006 - 05:12 AM

It would be nice if Home Theater Forum reviewers could compare and contrast theatrical with unrated cuts issued on dvd for not only quality of presentation, but whether--in their view--the film is enhanced or even hurt by the newly included scenes.

Often times, there is an assumption that "unrated" is synonymous with the director's preferred version, when it's obvious some of these editions are unceremoniously cobbled together by studios, much to the films' detriment.

Worst example: The Ring Two, which was choked with completely raw, unfinished and unprocessed deleted scenes that even lacked foley (sound) work. The result was a disastrous presentation that--intermittently--looked like crap, and irreperably harmed the pace of the film.

The theatrical cut had its problems, but the unrated version had a lot more of them. Even if this was Hideo Nakata's rumored "Director's Cut," releasing it in that state was unforgiveable.

So if there's any way for a comparison feature in forthcoming reviews from HTF, I'd have a clue about which cuts to avoid, or seek out...



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#12 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 06:49 AM

It would be nice if Home Theater Forum reviewers could compare and contrast theatrical with unrated cuts issued on dvd for not only quality of presentation, but whether--in their view--the film is enhanced or even hurt by the newly included scenes.

I agree that that would be useful. Next time I review a title that's getting simultaneous releases like this one did, I'll ask for both versions and compare them if I have time (and if they send me both Posted Image ).

Often times, there is an assumption that "unrated" is synonymous with the director's preferred version, when it's obvious some of these editions are unceremoniously cobbled together by studios, much to the films' detriment.

In the case of this film, it seems that neither cut was actually created (or approved) by the director.
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#13 of 44 OFFLINE   TheLongshot

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Posted June 29 2006 - 06:52 AM

In Moriarty's blurb on AICN, he mentions something about hearing that Wimmer had this film taken away from him. Considering that there is no commentary from Wimmer (and there was on Equilibrium), it sorta suggests that. I wonder what the story on that is...

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#14 of 44 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted June 29 2006 - 07:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Aaron Silverman
But seriously, she actually did say some interesting things on the track -- it was the 15-minute pauses between comments that pretty much ruined it for me.

I thought this was one of the worst commentaries I've ever heard. I don't recall ANYTHING interesting - she just talks about how cool everything was. The gaps are bad enough, but since there's no useful content at all, this commentary is as terrible as they get!
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#15 of 44 OFFLINE   Tony Whalen

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Posted June 29 2006 - 07:13 AM

I'm curious as to the difference with the Unrated Cut.

I actually went to see this one in the theatre, strictly because I enjoy crash-bang-action flicks, and I *love* Equilibrium.

I was beyond disappointed. Frankly, I couldn't wait for it to be over. Hated the over-processed look, the plot was a mess, the gun-kata wasn't nearly as cool as it was in Equilibrium, and the CGI (especially at the end) was horrid.

I really wanted to like this movie. As Steve stated above, Equilibrium is far superior to this flick.

Was UV taken away from Wimmer? Interesting...

#16 of 44 OFFLINE   James Lee

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Posted June 29 2006 - 07:43 AM

The frustrating thing for me about Ultraviolet is that there were some nice aspects to the movie buried under the lame plot, bad dialogue and over-processed CGI.

I actually liked the motorcycle chase. At least they tried something new. I also liked the symmetry of shapes and lines in many of the sets and fight scenes. The cinematography was visually interesting for the most part. To me, Milla Jovovich can make a bad movie at least tolerable.

Personally, I think Ultraviolet has some potential as a TV series.

#17 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 07:49 AM

There actually was a TV series called Ultraviolet, which was, of all things, a sci-fi vampire story! It was produced by the BBC in '98 and starred Jack Davenport of Coupling (the good original) fame. I've heard that it's excellent.
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#18 of 44 OFFLINE   Will_B

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Posted June 29 2006 - 08:09 AM

Quote:
If there is a point at which this flick could be said to kill any chance of redeeming itself, it comes around the 70-minute mark with a scene that's such a non-sequitur, I assumed that it was a dream sequence. It's such a jarring change from what came before it, and it ends so ridiculously, that no other explanation could make sense. But no

I thought that was a dream sequence at first too! Not in small part because Violet had explicitly told the boy that such places did not exist anymore.

I agree with the general opinion. If only the makers of Aeon Flux and the makers of Ultraviolet had teamed up to make one really great film, instead of two vaguely similar, kinda-ok films.
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#19 of 44 OFFLINE   Aaron Silverman

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Posted June 29 2006 - 08:28 AM

I thought that was a dream sequence at first too! Not in small part because Violet had explicitly told the boy that such places did not exist anymore.

Great minds think alike! Exactly alike! Posted Image
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#20 of 44 OFFLINE   Kong Chang

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Posted June 29 2006 - 08:47 AM

I watched the theatrical version and hated it to only find out that about 40 minutes of footage was cut in order to obtain the PG-13 rating which explains why the movie made absolutely no sense and was the worst edited form of movie. This DVD extended cut (which ain't the director's cut) is only about 10-15 min longer, and not the 40 minuter longer director's cut. Most of the cut were of the excessive blood and gore and the overusage of cussing language (and it seems the studio cut they're presenting on this DVD seems to still cut most of that out... *sigh*).

I'm hoping for a director's cut still because I would love to see his original vision of this movie rather than this waterdowned version (or the completely and utterly pointless waterdowned theatrical version).
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