REVIEW: IMMORTALS (2012)
I vaguely recall reading about Greek Mythology as a youngster growing up, but when watching movies and a Greek Myth was referenced, I generally found the movie that was referencing the myth to be really cool, or the story that was being explained and talked about to be some pretty bad-ass shit! Then I saw the always visually-explosive filmmaking technique and style of Tarsem Singh’s IMMORTALS on Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox and really becoming very interested in the stories that the Greeks invented to explain various circumstances and occurrences in life. Everyone wants to believe in something. Some use religion to give them something to help them in their time of need and weakness. Others use drugs or alcohol to help them forget about their troubles and woes. I, personally, find movies and music to be a wonderful medium and outlet to help me occasionally forget about the everyday bullshit that society, politics, and random grief that is all part of living one’s life. This week’s distraction was the violent, action-packed, slick-looking IMMORTALS.
The story of IMMORTALS is about a power-hungry king, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), whom decides to amass a huge army through fear, intimidation, and terror to storm through the lands laying waste to any and all that stand in his way; even those that don’t stand in his way. His goal is to obtain the most powerful weapon of all, the legendary Epirus Bow, a weapon that has the power to unleash war on both Heaven and Earth. When I think about this power, I think only a madman would want to cause that much violence and death towards mankind. This power would lead to the ultimate destruction of the planet and not make life that pleasant to live and what better actor to play this sadistic, maniacal, sadist than actor Mickey Rourke. I feel that ever since Rourke got his head knocked in and had to get some reconstructive surgery on his face during his “boxing career” in the mid-1990s when he decide to return to it as a professional, his acting career seemed to take a turn for the better. Granted, THE WRESTLER is considered his most acclaimed film to date, but I loved him in GET CARTER, SIN CITY, and HARLEY DAVIDSON and the MARLBORO MAN (anyone is free to argue with me on any of the aforementioned films I just mentioned). Rourke plays the role of King Hyperion and fits the character perfectly. The king does not have that many lines of dialogue but the lines he has are succinct and to the point. He also seems to be eating some sort of fruit or food item in almost every scene he is in.
Playing the hero and lead character in the film is Henry Cavill, portraying Theseus, the bastard child villager who has been unknowingly mentored by Zeus (disguised as an old man played terrifically by John Hurt and portrayed by Luke Evans when he turns back into a god) and is quite well-versed in the art of hand-to-hand combat and kicking some serious ass! His mother, raped and deemed the title of whore by all in the village, is the only one Theseus really seems to care about and love (besides the old man).
The film looks incredible, each shot able to stand alone as its own picture-perfect painting if frozen, and I marveled at the way the fight sequences and battles were filmed, much like the style of the film 300 (it came from the producers of that film) and although steeped in CGI and countless hours of post-production for all the various visual effects created on a computer, I still enjoyed the film immensely. The battle scenes were extremely graphic, violent, and gory; blood splashing and spurting out at the screen (it was filmed in 3D) and it all orchestrated itself into mini-battle scenes tying the story together right before the epic battle occurs. Fans of BLADE will be happy to see the snarky character of Stephen Dorff playing the role of Stavros, a thief who is one of the casualties of King Hyperion’s madness and has been captured and taken prisoner by soldiers, as well as the beautiful oracle Phaedra who Frieda Pinto portrayed. Those who saw SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE will recognize Pinto as the lead love interest in that film.
The scenes in which the Greek Gods battled the Titans were some of the coolest fight sequences, but let me first make note of how awesome the look and movements of the Titans were. The caged creatures were crusty-like, a dry mud colored drab gray being their bodies’ skin tone, and once they were unleashed to battle the Gods sure had one hell of a time killing them one by one. The film is divided up into a few smaller battles or skirmishes, generally just whetting the appetite for those who crave violent and bloody scenes of action that all just lead up to the final battle sequence between all the Greek soldiers being led by Theseus and the monster-like warriors comprised of King Hyperion’s army, all the while the interference of the immortal gods coming in to play now and again. One can also not help but getting caught up in the costume designs and composition within the film. At times, I was completely distracted and was not paying attention to the dialogue and, instead, was focusing on the set designs and costumes. There was great detail into the thought and designs of the attire everyone wore.
The battle sequence between the Minotaur and Theseus was completely epic, the Minotaur looking extremely dark and terrifying and the recreation of the characters had a very edgy spin and take on the Greek Gods, much different than previous installments of Greek Mythology and sword and sandal epics. Not only were the visual effects top-rate, but also the film’s original soundtrack made every scene totally huge and grand. I could not help seeing a large resemblance to the way in which Tarsem filmed THE CELL. There was definitely a signature stamp on this film and his stylistic vision. I really am anxious to check out THE FALL, as well as his other films. Rodeo was the company responsible for the visual effects and they really did a fine job. I generally loathe a great amount of CGI, but in this case, it really added depth and texture to the whole film.
Included on the high-definition Blu-ray, which looks incredible with Singh’s style of filmmaking, were the featurettes “It’s No Myth”, “Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision”, an alternate opening and endings, some deleted scenes, and Immortals: Gods & Heroes graphic novel. The Blu-ray also comes with a digital copy on disc 2 so one can upload it to their computer or other portable media. The special features on the Blu-ray were ok, if somewhat brief, and I thought that there would be far more extras on the disc for this film. The most interesting extra feature were parts that showed the CGI and how certain effects were created. IMMORTALS has to be the best CGI-heavy film that I have ever seen to date. I strongly recommend checking out the Blu-ray of IMMORTALS. It is one hell of an action flick and a welcomed entry in the sword and sandal sub-genre.