Sunday, November 20, 2011

Immortals Review

What's up Internet?

Be warned:  This review contains minor spoilers.

Full disclosure:  I've seen Immortals four times already.  Usually I write my reviews after the initial viewing; multiple viewings can and tend to change one's perspective on a film.  Honestly I was just too lazy to write a review previously..but I am finally sitting down now.  I liked Immortals a lot.  Yes, it has its flaws (predominantly script and plot-related), but its one hell of a visual blitzing of your corneal passageways that will (hopefully) leave you wanting to see more.

Let's get the negative stuff out of the way.  If you're coming into Immortals looking for a rich, deep narrative with character development and forward-moving plot development (and even simply adequate dialogue), well, Immortals is not the film for you.  The story is fairly generic and really doesn't offer up much in the way of twists or unexpected events.  The characters are fairly run-of-the-mill swords and sandals types - the arrogant, roguish side-kick, the mute monk, the super-attractive virgin oracle.  The only truly stand-out "character" would be Mickey Rourke's King Hyperion (more on him in a smidge).  The dialogue is mediocre at best; that said, the actors do their best with the material they are provided.

The plot is a combination of things we've all seen before; reluctant hero must get a bad-ass weapon to stop the ultimate bad guy.  Add some Greek Gods (specifically Zeus, Poseidon, and Athena) to the mix and there's your story.  There's obviously more to it but again, nothing really surprised.  Director Tarsem Singh decides to show the audience one of the last scenes first (as part of the oracle's vision) and proceeds to move towards that outcome throughout the film.  A more ambitious decision would have been to have the film's events alter the final results so that we don't exactly know what is about to play out.  Without getting too spoilerish, the idea of the oracle's vision becoming corrupted after she loses her virginity (which, surprise, does happen - props to Frieda Pinto's obvious butt-double) could've interestingly played out if the events that were to come to pass were somehow affected by her losing her virginity.  In summation: neither the characters or the plot were terrible, they just weren't great.

Now that I've gotten that off my chest I can start to gush over Immortals.  I'll start with the stand-out performances of the film.  Mickey Rourke is one of the most fascinating actors to watch on-screen.  He consistently transforms himself for his roles (most recently in The Wrestler, The Expendables, and Iron Man 2), and Immortals is no exception.  His King Hyperion is truly a villain that I loved to hate.  He is deliciously evil and brutal; Hyperion has no qualms about straight-up killing his men if it serves his ultimate goal.  Because of the poor overall character development persistent throughout the film, we get but just a glimpse into the madness and forces that drive this man.  His quest is rather predictable and bland, but perhaps a stylized flashback to a key event in his life (that we get a small description of) would've helped to frame his motivations more clearly.  Henry Cavill's Theseus is also screen-grabbing.  To be honest, this was the first time I had seen Cavill on the small or big screen...and I absolutely dig this guy.  He's charming and witty when he needs to be and brutal and ruthless when he's called to act.  There are specifically two scenes in which the rage and passion that drives his character bubbles to the surface and were a real treat to behold.  After much skepticism I can say, without a doubt, that he can most definitely pull off Superman/Clark Kent.

Now the visuals.  Damn.  Immortals is a visual masterpiece; every frame and scene packed with gorgeous scenery and lasting imagery.  While most of the vistas contained the now-typical green screen, the sets, for the most part, felt very real.  The digital effects throughout are quite astounding, from Theseus' small village cut into the side of a mountain, to just about any scene containing the gods.  The gods.  I could watch the gods fighting for the entire two-hour run time.  Because of Zeus' rule that gods cannot interfere with mortals in their godly form, we only get to see them in action twice.  Regardless, those two scenes are absolutely fantastic and rival some of the best in the genre (300, I'm looking at you).  Singh's use of speed-ramping and slow motion are expertly done...and produce fights that are extremely brutal and gory.  A good fight scene allows the viewing audience to clearly tell who is who and what is happening; while the fighting amongst humans is prone to this flaw, when the gods get in on the action everything is quite clear whether slow-mo is being implemented or not.

Immortals is definitely not without its flaws; the script (specifically the dialogue) is a quite lacking, as is the general plot and story.  That said, Immortals is truly a visual powerhouse, one whose images will stay with you long after the credits role.  A quick note on 3D - I saw the film in 3D (all four times) and quite enjoyed it.  While nothing revolutionary, its adequately complements the on-screen action and adds just enough to make it worth the extra dollars.

Immortals is pretty entertaining (but won't really force you to think).

Bearded Bullet out.

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