Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Immortals: A Matter of Life & Death

Immortals thunders onto the big screen with a legion of special effects and an undying army of interesting characters.


ARTH VADER (AV): Despite it's title, this movie was all-too human for me, Pontificator. Immortals showed little substance and offered near-endless fluff in the pointless tale of the hapless misadventures of the boring, one-dimensional exploits of the anti-hero, Theseus. Sound too convoluted to follow? So is this movie! But again, that's just me...

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): I guess the guiding standard would be Greek Mythology...and although I’m not an expert, I think they did a fabulous job of being true to the material. The main pantheon of gods were represented well and the entire film had a very “Greek” feel to it...a particular feel that hasn’t been seen in most films dealing in the subject matter. I have a nagging suspicion that you feel differently Vader...

(AV): The Greek God/Demi-God mythos is a rich universe of possibility offering endless opportunity for storytelling magic. Unfortunately, for me at least, there was not much magic to be found in Immortals as once again, Hollywood blows a perfect opportunity to make a great adventure.

AV: Unfortunately, a quality cast, including one of my all-time modern cinema favorites, Mickey Rourke (playing the misguided tyrant King Hyperion) couldn't save this movie from itself. Even my not-so-secret crush on Frieda Pinto (playing the alluring seer Phaedra) didn't move the meter of mediocrity on this movie. Direction of this movie was nothing short of epic, as Tarsem Singh, known for the oddly compelling 2000 film, the Cell, starring Jennifer (J-LO) Lopez, uses effects shots and visually stunning wide-angle world and fight scenes to dazzle the viewer. The scenes from 'on high' in Mount Olympus are stunning. Leading front men, Henry Cavill (best known for his stellar role in the Showtime network series, The Tudors) was empty and shallow. As for the casting of the Gods themselves though, it was hard for me to find this movie's deity casting believable. The Gods felt more like a hodgepodge cast of extras from various seasons of MTV's "The Real World" than being actual Greek lords but, they were beautiful to look at, all scantily clad and stuff.

TP: Allow me to disagree Your Vaderness. I thought the casting was well done, but films like this aren't made with “actors awards” in mind. That said I enjoyed Henry Cavill as Theseus as he brought the character to life with some very real issues seen in everyday people. Mickey Rourke was fantastic as King Hyperion and was just fun to watch as you never knew what he was going to do next...but you knew he was going to do something. Freida Pinto brought beauty to the film...literally.

AV: We interrupt Arth Vader's relentless movie-bashing to offer a ray of hope: The special effects in Immortals, is terrific! Clearly shot with the concept of 3D in mind, this movie is visually fun, fast-moving and captivating. The clashing armies, the delightfully well-choreographed fight sequences rival segments found in 300 (and almost as gory!). The tasteful (albeit plentiful) use of 1/4 speed action shots was fun and skillfully handled. *Spoiler Alert!* The finale's final fight sequence between the Gods and the Titans is cool, bloody and intense. The art direction and camera work blend seamlessly to offer one of the true highlights in an otherwise empty movie. We now return you to Vader's Immortal's bashing, already in progress…

TP: The only bashing I’m doing is being recounted in the film...but I feel your pain Vader. The special effects of this movie were nothing less than fantastic. Although I thought the costumes of the gods were a bit over-the-top, they didn’t hinder or detract at all when it came time for gods to hand out divine and bloody mayhem. I was really impressed with the scenery of Theseus’s village, being built into a cliffside...I thought it was very imaginative and filmed very well to give off a “whoa” feeling, merged with a bit of “what the heck?” Like “300”, the slow motion effect was awesome. Unlike “300”, the sped up motion within the slow motion was absolutely epic.

AV: Hollywood pulled every trick in the book to disguise the emptiness of this film. The ad campaign was nauseatingly intense, with an ominous start date of 11.11.11 that the only offered matinees (at least in Phoenix) were 3D screenings, causing me to pay and additional $3 for glasses and hyping up a thrill-a-minute mythological adventure that was anything but. Recent genre flops like Clash of The Titans and Conan The Barbarian didn't foreshadow high anticipation, but as always I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Now, I have even MORE doubt in Hollywood. They simply can't create quality content in this idea space.
TP: I always weigh a film based on the three elements of action, drama and humor...and how those elements mesh together within the film. I didn’t laugh too much and my emotions weren’t overtly provoked by the acting...much, but I was impressed with the action. Upon closer inspection though, I did discover that the title was very telling for much of the philosophy of the idea of immortality. The immortality of the gods was offset by Theseus’s belief that one can become divinely immortal through deeds while King Hyperion’s idea of leaving his mark upon the world would make him immortal, rounded out the various themes the title of this movie embraced.

AV: Let's hope that, *Spoiler Alert!* like many of the Gods in this movie, the studio will kill off any thoughts of a follow-up. As I stated, the Greek God genre is ripe with opportunity and given the capabilities of today's special effects wizards, we would love to see what would happen if the scripts and storytelling rivaled the budgets and talent. Ponty?

TP: This film could easily foster a sequel and even alludes to one. Dealing with Greek mythology leaves the door wide open for an almost “anything goes” approach when it comes to making a movie around a simple idea of good versus evil...with plenty of blood and gore, and many powerful god-like characters.

ARTH VADER Rates Immortals: Not the worst movie of the year, but you may want to wait until pay-per-view, NetFlix, HBO or some other movie service offers this film up for viewing. Fun but vapid, this movie just doesn't deliver and that's why I can't offer more than five busted blocks for the ambitious, though mostly disappointing, Immortals.

THE PONTIFICATOR Rates Immortals: A very fun movie to watch filled with great action sequences, plenty of blood and excellent special effects. The story is simple and the mythology is familiar, but it gives us a little more than just swords and shields....and thunders a godly rating of seven obliterated blocks.

Immortals: 6/10 Busted Blocks

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