Immortals

King Hyperion has declared war on Greek humanity and it‘s up to a common peasant named Theseus to rise up and stop him. Hyperion is searching for the legendary Epirus Bow which will allow him to free the Titans from a mythic dungeon. This then would give him the control to enslave Greece and absolute power even over the gods. Hyperion has murdered Theseus’ mother in one of his many raids and now it’s personal for the young stonemason.

Tarsem Singh’s flashy (does he do any other kind?) sword-and-sandal movie is a mythological fantasy in the classic tradition of stories like Jason and the Argonauts or 1981’s Clash of the Titans but with the art house pretense of Fellini’s Satyricon. Think of the recent 300 that employed a similar modern graphic approach. Eye popping visuals will keep you riveted even when the story lets you down. The scene composition combined with the lighting is incredible. Everything glows, from the sunsets to the well tanned performers. There’s enough muscular, barely dressed actors to resemble an Abercrombie and Fitch ad. Henry Cavill looks like a warrior hero and speaks with the self important oratory skills that the role requires. Freida Pinto is beautiful as Phaedra, the virgin (in the beginning at least) oracle priestess. They contribute to their parts, but the characterizations are merely serviceable. You’d be hard pressed to find anything resembling an actual “performance” in this picture.

The narrative is admittedly lacking. The plot slowly builds to serve to the inevitable rousing climatic battle. It’s kind of far fetched the way it plays out. Director Tarsem has described it as “Caravaggio meets Fight Club” and that’s a particularly apt description. The look of renaissance paintings is oddly mixed with extreme violence to satisfy his aesthetic – where the heroes kill villains as they are chopped, diced and spliced always in slow motion. The bloodletting is unending and crimson hued splashes of color explode like fireworks around the action. All of the carnage can get a bit wearying.

Spectacle is Tarsem’s number one priority. Dialogue and character development are a mere afterthought. But in the end the cinematography, art direction and technique is so impressive, the audience is likely to forgive the pedestrian script. The hallucinatory optics are so terrific, they captivate through sheer illustrative force. The viewer is compelled to keep watching. Make no mistake, this film is dazzling. Give Tarsem credit for his trashy exuberance. He wows with florid visual style.

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8 Responses to “Immortals”

  1. Story was just ok. It was a visual masterpiece. Awesome wardrobes of the Gods. Stunning scenes.

  2. Great review! Loved the way you described the film’s visual achievements. Also, “…the virgin (in the beginning at least) oracle priestess” = very funny!

  3. magnolia12883 Says:

    Mark, toying with simplifying things by taking the Flixster star scale and applying it to my blog. My question is this: how did you get them from your Flixster to your blog?

  4. Hey Mark – but did you actually ENJOY this movie???

  5. It’s essentially a visually mesmerising mish-mash of 300 and clash of the titans, but it’s severely lacking decent plotting, decent performances or characters that you can give a damn about. It would be great as a series of stills for a comic book but like Tarsem Singh’s previous movie The Cell it’s missing everything else that makes a movie. To say the cast are poor is also an understatement, Mickey Rourke may as well be eating cheese literally through the whole movie, his voice would probably sound better, Stephen Dorff is just wasted, as are Freida Pinto and John Hurt in his ‘cameo’ appearance, and the actors playing the gods are just plain boring. Having seen Cavill in a leading role, i’m now more concerned than ever about his being cast in Zach Snyder’s Superman reboot. He has the physique but after viewing this, i can’t say he has much else going for him in the role.

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