Immortal Shows us that the French can Make, Well, Weird Movies
Feb 28, 2009
Immortal, or Immortel: Ad Vitam in France, is not a new movie, having been released in 2004, although it is also a rather obscure film. While it was filmed in France, all of the dialog was originally filmed in English so you won't be subjected to subtitles or people's mouths moving out of sync with the dialog. It is also notable for being an extremely unusual movie, both in the content and visual style. Immortal was also based on a graphic written and drawn by the writer and director of the film, Enki Bilal, titled La Foire aux Immortels. This translates into, according to Wikipedia anyhow, "The Carnival of the Immortals."
Immortal is set in the year 2095 in New York city. The world seems to be stuck in a dystopia, common for works set in the period. We see a fairly stark, bleak city, flying cars, floating, almost holographic, advertisements, and other assorted futuristic touches. Populating the city is a population of genetically mutated civilians, some ranging from fairly normal looking people to alien-like creatures that no longer look like the Human they once would have been. Among these people, we meet one of the two main characters, a strange woman with blue hair, unusual powers, and a loss of memory.
There is also one other feature of New York-in-the-future that is notable, and very out of place. It is the giant floating pyramid above the city. While it might seem that Immortal has the makings of a Cyberpunk film, it merely only incorporates the setting, then flies off in a totally different tangent. You see, inside of this pyramid, the Egyption god Horus is being sentenced to death by fellow gods Anubis and Bast(et). He has but seven days to seek out a fitting host body and produce offspring.
There is a slight problem with this plan, however. You see, with the city being largely mutated, every host that Horus finds soon rejects him. Violently. With their bodies' exploding. Luckily for him, however, a prison facility floating above the city has malfunctioned, releasing a famed former rebel by the name of Nikapol who had been cryogenically frozen for 30 years and free of any mutations.
From there, the movie takes off. Nikapol, how possessed by Horus must travel the city finding a suitable mate to impregnate. That mate, as you can imagine, is the blue-haired women mentioned before. The movie begins to explore the woman's past, who she is, and why she is a suitable mate when no one else will do. We also see Nikapol wrestling with the (amusingly smug) god possessing him, police trying to chase him down, and far more.
Immortal is a complicated movie, and I'm sure an awful lot of people would have a hard time following it. In fact, I'm pretty certain that there are a number of questions never answered (Why is Horus sentenced to death? Why is Central Park a crazy frozen death zone of doom? I have no idea!). Yet, I did still find the plot strangely enjoyable. It was different and certainly unlike anything I've seen before. I also have a love of both urban fantasy and cyberpunk, so it was a nice fit for me as well.
The visual style of the film is rather interesting as well, but far from without faults. To say that CGI was important to this movie would be an understatement. The sets and a huge chunk of the cast are CGI characters. It is, mostly, well done CGI too - more so for the non-organic things, not so much for the people. The city scape, vehicles, and much of the scenery is absolutely stunning and I was pretty pleased to be watching the blu-ray version of the film. Yet, the mixing of Human actors and CGi characters was jarring. Some of them were decently well done, but others seemed to lack anything resembling textures and stood out like sore thumbs. While I understood why some characters were CGi, there were other, completely normal looking Humans, who were rendered as well. I felt that the film needed either far less CGi characters, or to be totally computer generated. The middle-ground they struck just felt odd.
Still, in the end, I found Immortal to be an enjoyable, if not completely bizzare film. It appeals to my tastes rather particularly, so if you aren't specifically a fan of Cyberpunk and/or Urban Fantasy you might want to knock it down a point or two. If you're turned off by the violence, sex, scenes of rape, harsh language, and other such content, you might want to skip it. If not, I'd say it is worth a try. It certainly is something different, at the very least.