Sunday, November 13, 2011


Oh my gods! Immortals was visually amazing! I can forgive the shortcomings of the movie thanks to the direction, costume design, set design and Freida Pinto. If you are familiar with Greek mythology it's best to leave that at home. They took Theseus' story and did their own thing with it. Don't expect to see the minotaur as a beast. He's just a man in headgear and Theseus' labyrinth challenge is only a second thought in the movie. Just don't expect to see a faithful translation of the classic. Immortals tells Theseus' story in it's own way and I'm not complaining.

Immortals skims on the border of beauty lacking substance but, under Tarsem Singh's (The Cell) meticulous direction, each frame in his movies serves a purpose. Unlike other certain directors, Tarsem Singh's choice of aesthetics is not an arbitrary placement of props and actors. He somehow does it with the illusion that he was able to catch that one perfect angle at the right moment. The entire run of Immortals is like a moving 3D painting and to enjoy the movie to the fullest, you'll have to watch it in 3D at the theaters. Some of the grander shots were done in super wide HD, creating depth perception instead of having things seemingly poking the audience in the eye. Actually, there was one scene when Helios' hammer was thrown towards the foreground. The hammer hurled in the air and it breaks the 4th dimension by seemingly cracking the lens of the camera. I can't do Immortals justice by talking about it. If I had to use one word to describe this movie it would be "Beautiful." Immortals definitely won me over. It seems that Tarsem Singh has a high appreciation and a deep passion for film making. Even though the writing of Immortals is weak at certain points, I still enjoyed it as a movie "experience." A concept that a lot of recent film makers seemed to have forgotten. Even during one of the slower scenes when Theseus (Henry Cavill) was talking to Phaedra (Freida Pinto) in some ruins with the dark blue night sky behind them, I can't keep my eyes off of the film. During other movies, that'd be my cue to take a bathroom break.

I still haven't mentioned much about the Gods yet! It's been hours since I watched the movie and I still can't make up my mind if the depiction of the Greek Gods was a disappointment or not. It was definitely different. I really like the concept of the Greek Gods not looking old or middle aged. They are young and beautiful as they are immortals. They moved much faster and a lot stronger than mortals (which they should be). The film interpreted this with high speed super slow motion (same technique used in 300), then coupled with the 3D... you just got to see it. Just prepare for some divine fun when the Gods show up for a fight. Theseus already displays a good amount of heroic feats in the movie but Zeus (Luke Evans) and company adds a bunch of kick ass incentive. The movie definitely make it apparent why they won Heaven over the Titans.

Then there are the Titans... to me they represent the drawbacks of Immortalas. I like Immortals a lot. Just as much as I like Tron: Legacy but, to look at Immortals objectively as a movie, definitely there were flaws. The movie starts off explaining that the Titans were powerful and even feared by the Gods. The first shot of the movie shows the Titans in their prison under Mount Tartarus. Even with their importance, they are very generic. There's no distinction between each Titan, no personality. They just seemed like some sort of dark demons. Nothing special. Same with some of the Gods. Without their armor to tell them apart, I'm not sure which God was which (safe for Zeus and Athena). Near the end when the company of Gods show up to fight the Titans, there were two Gods in the group whom I have no idea who they were. They all look the same. Also, some of the motivations can be left as movie logic. I am confused about Lysander's (Joseph Morgan) purpose. Then there was one scene when Theseus gives a heroic speech to a demoralized Hellenic army. After the speech, they just followed him blindly even though, he was condemned to be a bastard during the beginning of the movie.

But, I am willing to forgive all the flaws. Immortals is visually stunning and I just love the abstract style. A lot of the credit definitely goes to Tarsem Singh's direction but, Eiko Ishioka's (Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Cell) costume design adds a big part to the palette. Along with the amazing set designs done by Jean Kazemirchuk, Michele Laliberte and Michael Manson the movie gives off a surrealistic feel that this Greek Myth is alive in an epic painting. And as for the action, Jean Frenette's choreographer is kinetic poetry. I'm not sure who filmed the fights, whether it was Tarsem Singh or Jean Frenette, the action was done with wide shots and full takes. You can see each slash, each punch, each spin... during the fight between Theseus and Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) you can clearly see the wrestling techniques used as the camera pans around them. This is a lot better than using quick edits as a trickery to energize the action. There were some quick edits in Immortals but it was done sparingly.

I'd like to end with saying that all the actors in Immortals gave a worthy performance. John Hurt always does a great job. I want to see more of Freida Pinto. Not just because she's pretty but this is the third film I'd seen her in and it never looks as though she "phones" in her performance. Henry Cavill was able to play Theseus as more than a one dimensional character. With heroes, especially with Greek heroes, it's tough to portray them as more than their representation. I'm interested to see what Henry Cavill can do with Zack Snyder's Superman. Mickey Rourke was able to portray King Hyperion as sympathetic but yet charismatically monstrous. The only complaint I have of him is that he slurs a lot of his lines and when he puts on his mask, I have no idea what he's saying. I recommend checking out Immortals in the theater, only if you have no problem with abstract art. The scenes with the Greek Gods is worth the admission. Don't expect an action film though. There were more than a few slow moments.


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