Friday, November 11, 2011

Ten Statements About....IMMORTALS (2011)

"Raaaaah!  I's a scary method actor on the decline!"
"Deeds are immortal. Flesh is not."

1) I know there are some people who would sneer that is Tarsem's attempt to 'me-too' a film on the back of other virtual set historical fantasies as 300 and the modern Clash of The Titans. But that's not the case; it's just that Tarsem has been waiting until technology and, more importantly, film language has caught up with his vision. This film's look and feel is consistent with his previous films, and he seems tailor made for this kind of widescreen spectacle....

2) ...which is why it's so frustrating that this script is an unholy mess. Obviously written to be a cash-in on those above cited films, it can't decide what it wants to be. Characters who speak in mock classical dialogue sit side by side with those who speak in idomatic modern English, the film wants to be a humanist propaganda piece while also wanting to throw us monsters and gods, there is an attempt to be realistically violent while also giving us superhuman fight scenes, it gives lip service to historical accuracy while also going whole hog into myth-world...the inconsistencies go on.

3) Henry Cavill certainly knows how to be vigorous, dancing on the edge of being a scenery chewer without jumping in with both feet. He just the right amount of larger-than-life theatrical for this kind of film.

(and yes, in case you're wondering...that means I feel a bit more confident in his taking on Superman two years hence.)

One of the benefits of being an action hero in Anceint Greece?
You get to sleep with the virgin oracle Frieda Pinto...
4) Frieda Pinto--who is absolutely stunning--seems to have a face and body made for these kinds of epics. She naturally draws the eyes, and looks like she stepped out of a particularly vividly drawn edition of Bullfinch's Mythology.

5) It's particularly comforting to know that even when he's playing a marauding king from the Age of Myth, Mickey Rourke still plays...well, Mickey Rourke.

6) There's a weird recurring thing in this film where the script hamfistedly sets up something to happen in such a way that you know it's coming a mile off and yet, when it does happen--like when the Hellenic Council Member played by Stephen MacHattie dickers and calls for discussion only to have him be beheaded before he starts his bid for peace--there's a strange sense of satisfaction.

7) It looks rather obvious to me that Tarsem is more excited by the goofy stuff up on Mount Olympus with the Gods and the other fantasy elements. When he has to focus on the intrigue going on in the real world, the pacing slows perceptibly, and the coherence of the story loses focus. This is particularly obvious--painfully so--during the early parts of the second act, where a long stretch of the film is devoted to the capture of Theseus and the 'gathering of the team' that will be Theseus' traveling companions for the rest of the film.

How to recognize Greek Gods #15:  Greek Gods all wear
goofy golden headwear...
8) If you want proof of how far ahead Tarsem is in understanding the film language of the modern genre film, take a look at the fight scenes. While they do have faint echoes of both the ramping-happy sequences that populate Zack Snyder's recent films and the shaky cam of so many others, Tarsem is able to keep the action focused so that we know exactly what is going on while also giving us a sense of extreme hyperreality, like everything is going on around us in double time.

9) You know...if you don't want to make it obvious that this is a bid to squeeze some more money out of the people who liked 300, you prolly shouldn't end the film with a sequence that pretty much evokes the 'and now Greece has a future' feel of that film...or give Theseus the sort of big ass speech to the massed soldiers that Leonides gave his men...or...

You get the idea.

10) what was the point behind building up Joseph Morgan's Lysander to be a kind of anti-Theseus when, come the big confrontation he's just quickly run through? Okay, I get that the screenwriters wanted the big confrontation to happen between Theseus and Hyperion, but you shouldn't have spent so much time with that guy just to have him written off.

Overall...while I rejoice that Tarsem is back (and apparently back for good, as he's already gotten Mirror, Mirror, his version of Snow White in post-production), this film tries to be everything for everyone and ends up being nothing for nobody. If you're interested in the visuals and the storytelling, there might be something here for you. If you're interested in an actual story, well....

I went to the AMC Village 7 for this, and got a grand total of seven trailers, including the teaser for The Avengers, which is as good on the big screen as on the small, the latest Jason Statham vehicle Safe (I'm convinced that Statham has become the only 70's/80's style action star left, where he plays what is basically himself in a series of thrillers which are at their core excuses to see him beat people bloody), another viewing of the Mark Wahlberg/Kate 'I'm Generic' Beckinsale vehicle Contraband and an unnamed found footage film about three college kids experimenting with telekinesis and having things go horribly wrong.  In all, a dim view of my movie-going future.

1 comment:

  1. And the very first thing I said when I saw Mickey Rourke on screen was; "Holy shit, Mickey Rourke??? Who let HIM in this movie?"