Thursday, November 17, 2011

Immortals Review By J. David - MovieWeb.com

immortals

If it's a crime to sit back and enjoy a film for what it is simply because you're an educated film buff, then I should probably be serving a life sentence in Guantanamo Bay. Throughout the years, I've sat through some of the dumbest films to ever grace the screen and still walk out with a smile on my face. Call them guilty pleasures or call me crazy (I don't care which), but I'm not exactly difficult to entertain. To satisfy completely? Yes, but not to entertain. Enter Immortals, the new special effects orgy from the producers of 300 and starring Superman-to-be Henry Cavill, a film that's tone deaf, but propulsively entertaining.

Taking three Greek mythology stories and mixing them into a single film, Immortals follows Theseus, a peasant chosen by the Gods to lead an army against the evil King Hyperion, a tyrant bent on unleashing the Titans from the depths of Mt. Tartarus and thus, declaring war on the heavens.

It's rare for a film to be able to balance out being one of the best films of the year, as well as one of the worst, but Immortals manages to pull it off effortlessly. It's home to some of the most spectacular visual effects seen on camera this year, some fine performances from it's rising stars, and tremendous action pieces. However, it's also home to one of the most underwritten and poorly conceived screenplays of the year and a story so haphazardly strung together, it makes Clash of the Titans (both versions I might add) look like The Lord of the Rings. Does that make it a tough sit? Not if you're willing to embrace its stupidity and relish in the carnage for little more than ninety minutes.

I'm relatively unfamiliar with director Tarsem Singh (and after that Mirror, Mirror trailer, I'm not sure I want to be), but from what I understand, his sophomore effort The Fall is a near masterpiece. Well, either that film has an infinitely better screenplay or it was his passion project because he's absolutely clueless here. The entire story is thrown together with the cohesiveness of a Bud Light commercial. For the first half of the film, nothing makes sense. A premise is brought to fruition revolving around a mythical bow that shoots energy-flared arrows, but its origins and purpose is never explained. It's simply there to provide the hero with a quest and the villain with a target. Plus, the characters have no charisma.......at all. And because of that, the first half of the film is, quite frankly, just flat-out boring, devoid of any real purpose or excitement.

Now, let's place that little rant aside and talk about the goods. And by that I mean the incredible blending of sets and CG locations, the intricate costume designs, and the beautiful action sequences. Singh may be slack with story, but the man is undeniably a cinematic artist, rivaling even Zack Snyder (who's a better director, but you know what I mean). His camera work is flawless, his timing perfect, his choreography breathtaking, and his sun-baked color palette magnificent. Let this be advice to future directors who find themselves with a script as bad as this one. Take Singh's path and abandon the story in the third act and deliver the bloody goods. It'll at the very least make up for the sluggish build-up. It did for me anyways. The final showdown between the Gods and Titans has to be one of the most entertaining bloodbaths I've seen since the producers' own 300. It alone is worth the price of admission.

The performances are much better. Fear not Superman fans, Henry Cavill is perfectly fit to don the cape. Here, he displays the amount of intensity to make his one-dimensional character shine when he needs to and conjures up just enough emotion to make Theseus likable. Mickey Rourke, on the other hand, steals the show as King Hyperion and shows off his inner barbarian that never quite escaped in Iron Man 2. If there were an Oscar category for best villain, he would certainly be in the running. Luke Evans, though somewhat channeling his doppelganger James McAvoy, makes for a solid Zeus, though not as fierce or intimidating as Liam Neeson. Frieda Pinto is, well, hot. She isn't given much to do, so at least she works as eye-candy, and John Hurt, brief as his role is, isn't useless.

Whenever the fighting isn't onscreen, Immortals is a near-unbearable slog. But whenever things heat up it transforms into one of the best spectacles of the year. Whether you feel the urge to experience it is your choice, but should you choose to invest in a ticket, make sure your brain is off and your popcorn bag heavy. It's the only way to walk away happy.

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