Sunday, December 29, 2013

Movie review: Immortals

Since Netflix (I recently switched to Netflix after years of Blockbuster Online and boy, isn't that streaming shows neat) is removing Tarsem Singh's Immortals from their streaming roster on January 4th, I thought I'd give it a go last night.  I was an Ancient Greek major in college (super-useful, that) and have loved Greek mythology since about second grade, plus I loved Singh's earlier films, The Cell and The Fall, so I was really looking forward to Immortals.  To say I felt let down afterwards is an understatement: Immortals is like someone made a movie out of parts of 300 and The Fall, but not the best parts.

Immortals is an incoherent, pointless mess, with a "plot" culled hodgepodge from various Greek myths.  Back in the day, these immortal beings fought a mighty war against each other.  The victors were the Greek gods (Zeus, Mars, Poseidon, etc.) and the losers, imprisoned under Mt. Tartarus, were the Titans.  Henry Cavill is Theseus, a mortal peasant whom the gods want to rise up and lead an army against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, who is actually fairly menacing in his outlandish, operatic costumes) who has decided to release the Kraken Titans since the gods didn't save his wife and children when he called upon them.  Freida Pinto is in the mix as Phaedra, the "Virgin Oracle" - who very quickly is convinced to give up her virginity - and accompanying oracular visions - to Theseus, who, it must be said, looks awfully good in just a skirt.  Stephen Dorff is in there too, also shirtless, but his character is completely superfluous.  There's a bunch of fighting amongst the humans; the Titans are released SPOILER; there's a bunch more fighting, human vs. human and god vs. Titan, until Hyperion's army gets conquered; then there's a bunch more fighting between the gods and the Titans, years later, in the heavens.

The mythology is askew: in Greek myth, Theseus was the son of the god Poseidon, who eventually became the king of Athens after many adventures, including being sent to Crete and defeating the Minotaur. Phaedra did marry Theseus but she was a princess, not a priestess.  Hyperion was a Titan who fathered the sun and the moon.  The Titans were earlier deities who did battle with the gods; they were defeated and thrown into Tartarus but were never freed.  That's fine: mythology is always open to interpretation.  But the movie is so incoherent - why did the gods want Theseus to lead the humans against Hyperion, especially when nothing came of it?  why was it "against the rules" for the gods to aid the humans and why did Zeus kill Ares for helping out?  if all the gods were killed in the battle, how were they resurrected for the battle in the end scene?  apparently it's no big deal to get killed? - and messy that I just didn't care about anyone in it.

In addition, Immortals was not nearly as gorgeous a film as The Cell or The Fall.  The costumes were striking but the sets and scenery were largely murky, not nearly as dramatic or fantastic as I had hoped, although they did do some funky stuff referencing the Minotaur.  I was disappointed by Immortals.  Unless you're really set on seeing Henry Cavill's abdominal muscles, you'd be much better served by watching The Fall.

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