geekery

Impressions of Immortals

Alright back to a real post!

On Saturday the Fiance and I went to see the Immortals and we came away from it with very different opinions on the movie, he hated it and I enjoyed it. Not loved it mind you, but it was fun to watch.

I went to see it strictly because of the director, Tarsem Singh who is most widely known for The Cell. His visual style and way of storytelling appeals to me and I hoped it would be better then the previews looked. The producers also did 300, which I was not really a fan of but was kind of fun to watch. The previews made it look like it was going to be 300 reloaded and thankfully that was not really true. Honestly the trailer for Immortals was completely awful, they were incredibly selective with the shots and changed the color tones to match almost exactly with 300’s palette. Tarsem is known for his rich colors and bright, gorgeous set pieces so that REALLY did not fit with what I have seen from him before. To sum up I went into this movie with reservations, a lot of them.

The Fiance and I had never seen a 3D film before so we decided to splurge a bit and damn am I happy we did. I wouldn’t pay the extra to have that kind of system at home but it was a fun experience to see in the theater.

The story is a mash up of Greek mythological characters and stories. Theseus and the Minotaur, the Titans, a small bit of the Greek pantheon (namely Zeus, Athena, Poseidon, Ares, and Hermes) and the idea of the Oracle of Delphi all mixed into one strange story. It starts out with Theseus as a bastard peasant who is an excellent warrior trained by the mystical old man of the village and goes from there. Hyperion is the King of Crete hell bent on destroying the Olympian gods by freeing the Titans, which in this movie are blue warrior like creatures boxed into a cage and holding long piece of rebar in their mouth. To do this he must apparently destroy Greece and find a magic bow that is hidden somewhere. The oracle Phaedra can somehow tell him where it is so Hyperion is also searching for her and on the way to doing all that he will torture, maim and destroy any people he comes across. He makes an enemy of Theseus who is  now committed to hunting him down. The gods themselves are characters, each playing a small role in the outcome.

Sooo yeah. As you can tell from that incredibly disjointed summary of the movie it was not extremely successful at telling a cohesive story. But damn was it pretty! Most of the time dialogue is how characters are developed and IMO Tarsem goes in another direction, he uses the visuals; costumes, props, scenery and landscape more then anything else to give depth to his characters and story. The pain isn’t talked about it’s graphically displayed in front of us through gory, brutal killings. The gods are clad in gold and are conventionally (for this age anyway) beautiful with elaborate head dresses and accessories. Masks and crazy hats, oh the CRAZY hats!

Theseus our hero doesn’t really do much of anything. He is all sculpted muscle and expressive face. Henry Caville was a good choice for Theseus, he conveys his emotions through body language and tone of voice. He pulls off the heroic peasant fighting for justice and revenge to a T. However the character really has no drive, he reacts to everything that happens to him and does not seem to make any choices outside of being forced to them. As strong as he is and has great fighting prowess he was not very interesting to watch as there is only reactions, no proactive behavior and in a hero as he is so clearly portrayed to be, that is a liability. It’s sad really because so much of the story that should rely on his epic prowess falls apart because the gods mostly do it for him.

mmm rippling muscles!

Hyperion is cruel and bitter. He suffers and feels the gods failed him so he will inflict a cruel hell on everyone he can and destroy the gods. A bit selfish and awful really, so the perfect villain. Mickey Rourke wins the day however because he pulls off this role like no one else could. Gravely voiced and effortlessly vindictive he makes the viewer shudder more then once.

A little scary…and dirty.

The portrayal of the gods fell very flat for me. A couple of them are left unnamed and wordless, I think you are supposed to figure it out by the props they are carrying and what I can only assume was a choice made because of time constraints, so many of the gods were left out! Where’s Haphaestus mighty smith and wielder of a kick ass hammer who presumably made the Epirus bow in the first place? Apollo who is supposed to be a highly intelligent and deft warrior? Artemis, goddess of the hunt who’s weapon IS a bow? The casting felt a bit odd with Zeus the father looking more like the older brother to the rest. Luke Evans did a fairly decent job portraying Zeus and the wrestle with himself and the others not to interfere in mankind’s doings. The others all felt wooden and like they were trying a bit too hard to have a regal quality to their performance.

Also, WTF is up with that guy's hat!

Which brings me to the biggest bit that I felt was the most egregious error in terms of the storytelling. Greek gods did not refrain from involving themselves with humans. Ever. That’s pretty much what all their stories are about! Zeus is kind of known for being an aggressive rapist (usually in animal form) of human women and engendered several demi-god children. I read an interview with Tarsem and the following quote kind of explains why he chose to go that way,

  if there is a God he’s definitely not benevolent. We should mean less to him than ants. And if there is a God or there are gods they would value, more than anything, free will

However I think that choosing Greek mythology to tell that kind of story is an incredibly poor choice as it clashes so hard with actual mythos. Also, Zeus fights with lightning not a fucking chain. It’s how he won his throne and it’s how he keeps peace among the gods. Lightning!

Phaedra is an oracle with visions of the future. She see’s what is to come between Theseus and Hyperion and does what she can to guide the situation to avert catastrophe. At first anyway. She starts out strong and fades as the movie continues. Eventually giving up her visions to have some love time with Theseus, because he casually mentions to her what a curse they are, being able to see the future but not affect it. Except…um…she kind of DOES have an affect. She is the catalyst for Theseus finding the bow, becoming a hero, for several actions in the movie but she randomly gives it up after he says one sentence.

The movie was actually better then I expected, but that’s not really saying too much. It was gorgeous but I don’t know that I will watch it again any time soon. But just in case you want to see it, please make note,

This guy is also in it!
This guy is also in it!

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