Friday, November 11, 2011

The Dull And The Beautiful

Directed by TARSEM SINGH

Tarsem Singh, the renowned director of The Fall, directs the Immortals…into the ground. The Immortals is a grotesque spectacle of stunning visual style, 300-like chop scenes, and bad writing. The Immortals stars future SupermanHenry Cavill as the fearsome hero Theseus, but Gerard Butler he is not. 

After 2007, most ancient costume films are bad copies of300, both stylistically and emotionally. These copycat films always have well-muscled heroes attempting the “this… is… Sparta!” speech. What the filmmakers don’t realize is that despite 300’s obvious flaws (the ostentatious beefcake and director Zack Synder’s misogynistic view towards women),300 was a decent movie. Written and illustrated by acclaimed comic book artist, Frank Miller300 had a solid storyline to pull from. 

The Immortals does not. The Immortals begins as most beefcake costume dramas do, with the introduction of a hero, Theseus (Cavill) and a villain, Hyperion. Theseus (Cavill) is a peasant, born on the wrong side of the tracks, but oh-boy does Cavill look good without a shirt. Cavill delivers the required physicality for the role and he’s a competent actor, but like the rest of the cast, he’s bogged down by bad dialogue and an even worse script. 

As the story unfolds, Theseus must stop Hyperion who plans to steal the Epirus bow in order to unleash the Titans, which have been imprisoned by the Greek gods. If Hyperion succeeds in releasing the titans, then all Tartarusbreaks loose. In Greek mythology, Hyperion himself was a titan. 

In Immortal mythology, Hyperion is a rough and tumble king with a crab claw hat played by Mickey RourkeRourke is perhaps the most ridiculous thing in this movie and not because of his acting ability, because Rourke is notably a good actor. But Rourke is grossly miscast in this ancient period piece. Rourke plays Hyperion like Colonel Kurtz in a loin cloth. Colonel Kurtz of course is the famous character from Apocalypse Now, played by Marlon Brando

Filling the beautiful virgin quota is Frieda Pinto who plays the oracle, PhaedraPinto is amazingly beautiful and amazingly dull. She has the charisma of a warm bucket of water, which adds an additional boring layer to this bore of a film. The oracle of course knows where this mythical bow is, which makes her important to both Hyperion and Theseus. Similar to the ‘epic’ film, The Scorpion King, when the oracle loses her virginity, she loses her ability to ‘oracle.’ Guess what happens when she meets Theseus

One could say that the writers threw the myths out with the bathwater in lieu of beautiful people, with beautiful bodies, with great tans. Which would have been fine, had they done it right. 

The most interesting part of the film, both visually and otherwise, are the Greek gods. Zeusplayed by up and coming actor, Luke Evans (recently in The Three Musketeers), is impressive to watch.Isabel Lucas as AthenaDaniel Sharman as Ares, and Kellan Lutz as Poseidon, are equally as impressive and have entertaining, albeit brief, storylines. The Olympians are a feast for the eyes and this is where Tarsem’s signature visual style hits pay dirt. Unfortunately for the audience, Tarsem doesn’t bank where the money is. The film focuses on the overly simplistic, dismal storyline of Hyperion, Theseus, and Phaedra

The dismal nature of the storyline matches the desolate scenery, clearly shot in a boring back lot with gray tones of CGI. The drab sets are a far cry from Tarsem’s ravishing landscapes in The Fall. For example there’s one scene in The Fall in which Alexander the Great is in the desert. Although the landscape is barren, it’s magnificent. Excluding the last scene in the Immortals, in which the heaven’s themselves become a grandiose battleground, Tarsem’s eye for beautiful landscapes is lost in the Immortals and that’s not the only thing that’s missing.

Stephen Dorff, Henry Cavill, Frieda Pinto, and Greg Bryk
Luke Evans as Zeus and Daniel Sharman as Ares
The best part of this movie are the Olympians and they are woefully underused. The scenes with the Olympians are truly stunning to behold, but that's about it. Skip it.
Daniel Sharman has the most amazing costume as Ares


  1. Thought about seeing it tonight, read through the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, and then decided to stay home and watch the latest Pirates movie on DVD instead. The trailer for this one just never captivated me.

  2. I am really disappointed. I thought it was going to be so much better than it was. Tarsem is known for his beautiful sets. Instead we get gray cliffs and way too much cgi. It was awful, just awful. The greek gods were pretty cool though. If they would have focused on the olympians then it would have been a decent film.

  3. The previews looked like someone saw "300" and said, "I'd like to make this movie only a lot gayer."

  4. Ha, if only they had followed the 300 formula it would have been a decent movie. I think Roger Ebert summed it up well when he said that the audience really doesn't know what's going on. It's all over the place.

  5. I was thinking about watching this. I really like Tarsem's THE CELL and liked his R.E.M. music videos, but I've now heard too many bad things about it. Mind you, I saw TOWER HEIST the other day and gave up on cinema as we know it.

  6. I'll wait for this one on Blu-ray.

  7. Damn I wish I had a twelve pack. I currently have a keg.

  8. Ugh, Mariah - did we set our expectations too high? I was so disappointed. :-( What a waste of a date night! At least the popcorn was husband actually said to me, "I think I might have rather gone to see Breaking Dawn with you." You know it's bad when a man thinks he would have enjoyed a Twilight flick more...Ebert got it right.

  9. My 2 Pesos-- It looked cool at first, then it wasn't.

    Movies on my mind-- I really liked Tarsem's The Fall. I thought The Cell was decent too, but the Immortals was just a spectacle for the sake of a spectacle. Ebert calls it the best looking bad movie you'll ever see.

    Max-- Good call!

    Elliot-- Ha, well the men in this movie were ripped. So was the script unfortunately.

    Jennie--Yep, Ebert blasted it as well. I wondered if I set my expectations too high, but it was just so bad. The only redeeming quality was the olympians and they weren't on screen much.

    Your husband is a brave man to consider watching Breaking Dawn.

  10. It got a bad write up in The Guardian last friday which has put me off wanting to see it. I know films are a group effort but why do they pander to the lowest common denominator? The story has the potential to be really good but....

  11. I'm very sad this movie is so disappointing. I really was looking forward to this. I think I'm going to see it anyway because I love Henry and Luke.


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