November 21, 2011

Beaucoup De Sang

Sweet, merciful antichrist, I have sucked this month. Well, sucked at adding stuff to this site, not sucked in general. Well, maybe that too. Depends who you ask.


What with directing a show, starting practice for swimming, course loads, obscene lack of sleep, and college night life, I have legit just forgot to write stuff. And I apologize. I'll do better... I hope.

Ok, on to the review.

I am Spartacus Theseus!

Immortals tells the story of Theseus, a warrior who suddenly finds himself the defender of all Greece against the mad king Hyperion, who has declared war on humanity. His intention is to acquire the Epirus Bow, a weapon of ridiculous power, and the only thing that can release the Titans from their prison. See, Hyperion has a bit of a beef with the gods, and wants to see them die in very bloody and satisfying ways. So Theseus, aided by an oracle who can see the future, sets off to find the bow and stop Hyperion from destroying all civilization.

Ok, the plot of this movie is pretty terrible. There's no real spark of originality or realism in it. Characters come and go willy-nilly, defy logic multiple times, and never really have anything interesting to say. The film starts off with a bang, and ends with a sonic boom, but the middle section just plods. It makes the mistake of thinking that we'll care about these broad, archetypal characters in between all the bloodletting, but doesn't really do anything to make them interesting. The plot only exists to provide context (what little there is) and to swiftly move the characters from one crazily stylized battle to the next.

Luckily, the cast is all pretty game for it. The stand out is, thankfully, Henry Cavill as Theseus. He does a good job here, conveying the necessary emotion and easily creating a character that we can, at least, sort of connect with. Even better, he kicks ass like a champion. All those who are skeptical on whether or not he'll make a good superman can shut it. He has superhero written all over him.

Freida Pinto is alright as the oracle, Phaedra, doing enough with the whole mysticism and trippy stuff to be compelling. Stephen Dorff gets a sizable role for a change, playing Theseus' companion Stavros, and he does a fine job, reminding us why Stephen Dorff needs to be in more movies.

On the Gods front, Luke Evans in perfectly serviceable as Zeus, as is Kellan Lutz as Poseidon. Isabel Lucas doesn't fare quite as well as Athena, but she is so stunning in this, it's not that big of deal. Indeed, the Gods in Immortals are probably the prettiest iterations of the deities ever committed to celluloid.

If there's one thing to gripe with on the performance front, it's Mickey Rourke as Hyperion. We know that Rourke can do villainous in his sleep, but this just isn't good. His voice never rises higher than a whisper, and while that usually is sign of villain who keeps his cool, here he just sounds tired. Also, his accent is all over the place for some reason.

Seriously! Just look at how pretty that is!

But, when a film is proudly proclaiming that it is "From the Producers of 300", you're not coming for the performances or the story. You're coming for the visuals and the blood, and boy does this film deliver on that. Director Tarsem Singh is a real master when it come to aesthetics. Every one of his films, story and acting quality aside, are absolutely gorgeous to look at, and Immortals is no exception. What you have here is a beautifully detailed vision of ancient Greece, inspired by baroque paintings, high fashion and classic architecture. Every shot is so lovingly detailed, just screaming in your face, "Look at me!" From the model pretty gods, to the costumes, to the sets, everything here is simply jaw dropping.

Colliding with all this high art is the violence. Judging by the trailers, you'd be forgiven if you thought that this was a bloodless, Clash of the Titans-esque escapade. You would not be farther from the truth. Yes, Immortals is lovingly crafted visually, and looks more like The Tree of Life than it does The Expendables, but the fact remains that this is one of the most brutal yet gleefully violent film I've seen in a hell of a long time. Oh sure, you get blood, but you also get libs flying everywhere, heads getting chopped off, guys getting split in half, guys literally getting beaten into pulp, torture, and one scene that I'm sure will leave every guy in the theatre squirming, and that's just the humans. When the Gods and Titans get in on the action... well, it's a beast all of its own by that point.

But it's good action. Rather than do what every other director does and go for the sensory overload thing, shaky cam and all that, Singh instead steps back, and frames his action so that the audience can see all the juicy details. More often than not, he'll have one super long take as Theseus effortlessly dispatches enemy after enemy. The finale is fucking awesome, and there are at least five scenes that are a thousand times cooler than any of the shit in 300. 

I like what Singh has accomplished, or at least is trying, here, essentially taking the gonzo, sword and sandals, action flicks and mixing them with an art house film. Though his stylistic sensibilities gets in the way of his story telling abilities, Immortals is something you don't see every single day. Yes it's all sound and fury, a cacophony of steel and blood, but it's a completely different cacophony of steel and blood. It fulfills the promise of all the 300 clones better than even 300 did, a hyper stylized, crazy violent romp through ancient Greece. Is there a problem with that?

1 comment:

  1. It’s probably one of the best-looking films of the whole year (yet, I still haven’t seen Tree of Life) and the action is awesome and in-you-face which is something I always like. The story dragged on a bit and I couldn’t help but think that if the writing was a tweaked a little better, this would have definitely been a very solid film. Instead it was just fun and pretty to look at. Good review my man.