Immortals (Relativity Media, R)

immortals smThe worst thing about this movie is that it is a campy story which they treat with the utmost seriousness.

 

 

 

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Hollywood isn’t very creative. Not only are we constantly bombarded with remakes and sequels, but when a movie ends up being a surprise hit, everyone tries to imitate it. An obvious recent example of this is Zack Snyder’s 300. The film was based on a graphic novel, but it had a style all its own. Since then, there has been an influx of “sword and sandal” movies, all of which desperately want to be 300. But here’s the rub; 300 was a bad movie. When filmmakers tried to imitate Star Wars, they usually ended up making enjoyable b-movies like The Last Starfighter. But when a movie is bad to begin with, the films that are derivative of it will generally end up being terrible.

After 300, Zack Snyder was controversially awarded the title of “visionary director.” Immortals is made by Tarsem Singh who, if nothing else, is a visionary director. His first two films, The Cell and The Fall, split critics, but no one can deny that the man is a brilliant creator of imagery. His vision is weird, beautiful, and epic, and makes sense applied to this narrative. In Immortals, Mickey Rourke plays an evil king whose army is taking over, I guess, the world. He believes that if he can find the legendary Epirus Bow, he will be unstoppable. A peasant named Theseus must stop him.

Let’s talk about this bow. It’s a magic bow. There are no arrows required. When you pull back on the bow, magic arrows appear. If you fire these magic arrows at a wall, they explode. If you fire them at enemies standing right next to your friends, they simply act like normal arrows. The problem is, that when someone stands still and fires a flurry of arrows from this bow, it looks pretty lame. Theseus finds the bow with a comic amount of ease. There is literally no journey involved. In fact, they head out on a journey, then go back to where they started, and it turns out that’s where the bow is. It is just as easily taken away from him. We are lead to believe that Rourke’s character getting the bow would be the worst thing that could possibly happen. But when he gets it, he uses it, and doesn’t actually accomplish much of anything. It is an absolutely useless macguffin.

We get appearances from some Gods in this movie. They all support Theseus, but Zeus has commanded that none of them are to interfere in the world of man. This seems especially odd, seeing as Zeus apparently took human form and trained Theseus from a very young age. Zeus has always been a bit of a hypocrite, but his hypocrisy is especially annoying here. At certain points the Gods do take action, and when they do, the movie is pretty damn entertaining. Unfortunately, that only lasts about 45 seconds. I was pissed at Zeus because I suddenly realized that I wanted to be watching a movie in which Gods go to town on faceless bad guys, but was stuck watching generic fights between uninteresting people.

The worst thing about this movie, and 300 for that matter, is that it is a campy story which they treat with the utmost seriousness. You would think this was Shakespeare based on how the actors play it. It’s not Shakespeare. The fact that no one on screen seems to be having fun makes it tough for us to have fun. For all the effects, action, and drama, this film is dull.

On the DVD of The Cell, there is a featurette called “Style as Substance.” I support this as an idea, and I love Tarsem’s visuals. The film looks great, but the style does not transcend to the point of becoming substance. It didn’t help that I saw it in 3D, which was especially disappointing a week after A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. I probably liked this more than 300, but not by much. I love violent action movies, and I don’t even demand that they be smart. I do demand that they not be boring. My demands were not met. | Sean Lass


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