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A movie directed by Tarsem Singh

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It looks pretty. Good for you, Tarsem; good for you.

  • Apr 11, 2012
*1/2 out of ****

One of the first scenes in "Immortals" reveals the power hungry king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) as he begins his epic quest for vengeance. We are told that he is searching for a legendary weapon known as the Epirus Bow, which was used by the immortals (the beings that came before man) during wartime, lost for all these years. It would seem that, in this particular scene, the king has located it; and intends to use the bow to release the so-called "titans" so that they may spite the Gods that he so avidly detests. We see the Titans. They are locked within a golden square prison; biting down on the bars that hold the cage together. Hyperion fires the bow. We see the impact; an explosion of grand proportions, rising up not too long after being unleashed. It's energy. And it's also a fantastic way to open a movie such as this.

The Tarsem-directed "Immortals" is a sword-and-sandals epic (shorter than most, running at just ten minutes short of two hours) that promises visual satisfaction, hardcore violence, high-concept action sequences, and perhaps even an entertaining slice of alternative history. Since it doesn't seem at all interested in being historically accurate, we know from the get-go that Tarsem does not intend for us to take the film (or its story) seriously. Few directors want us to treat their historical epics as fact, rather than fiction. But where does one draw the line, between fiction that is good and fiction that is bad? When does one decide that enough is enough? Does one decide such a thing at all? It depends on what kind of viewer you are, but I know that for me, there is a line; and "Immortals" crossed it before it even started.

As I watch the movie, it is made clear that the king Hyperion has yet to find the bow and that the scene which opens the film shall be revisited later on. Until then, he leads his army across Greece in search of the mighty lost bow; hoping that finding it will grant him some sort of immortality. Hyperion is not much different from Napoleon Bonaparte; but then again it's quite doubtful that Mickey Rourke could successfully channel the personality and image of the latter. Anyways, Hyperion's rampage across the land angers a lot of people; in particular, a stones man named Theseus (Henry Cavill), who vows to avenge the death of his mother at the hands of Hyperion's soldiers.

So what does he do? He leads an army of his own to approach Hyperion (and his army) and hopefully put an end to this madness. On the way, he meets a very important character; the oracle - or psychic - Phaedra (Freida Pinto), who looks into the hero's future and sees that he is the only one with the capacity to prevent Hyperion from achieving his madman goals. That's pretty much it, in a nutshell, as far as the story goes; and it's simple, but then again, ask yourself why you came to see this movie in the first place. You want action scenes; you've got 'em. "Immortals" ensues with little sense or narrative depth - or human insight or empathy - but what it does have is an endless string of stabbings, disembowelments, disfigurements, and heads getting blown off with golden hammers.

If all that sounds immensely thrilling, then it probably is. "Immortals" is what many will probably call a good movie night; while others will write it off as boring, sluggish, and bland. I'm in the latter category. While the film contains dazzling image after dazzling image, it's an absolute chore to get through as it never seems terribly interested or engaged in becoming an artistic achievement, which would merely be another one for its director (Tarsem is known for his wonderful "The Fall" and his elaborately creative television commercials). Sure, you get bombarded with solid visual effects and some thrilling action set-pieces (the thing is almost indulgently gory); but amidst the blood and the guts, there's stuff like uninspired dialogue, underdeveloped characters (many of them being played by talented but mis-cast actors), and an absolutely terrible structure in the narrative (sometimes you struggle just to find out what the hell is going on).

I really wouldn't be too surprised if Tarsem felt used after completing this film. Someday, I hope he'll come off and admit what a failure it really is. While one man's junk is another man's treasure, I don't see a cult following on the horizon for the thing, and more than likely, even those who are entertained by it will forget it. I wish I was in that crowd, but I was not entertained by anything other than Tarsem's signature, fascinating imagery. And while it's pretty to look at, with all the resources he was given, the filmmaker should have done a better job at, well, his job. Take out the dialogue, the characters, and the stupid plotting and you might have had a fantastic and engaging visual experience a la "300"- which the film has been frequently compared to - but then again, you'd still have to remove the dark, dark places that make for dark, dark moments.

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More Immortals reviews
review by . November 11, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Machismo-Laden Attitude and Bloody Violence Make Up
Greek mythology has often been the product of numerous film interpretations. Why? The stories of heroism, of gods and men have always held a certain charm for mainstream audiences. Movies such as the original “Clash of the Titans” (which also spawned an action focused remake), and “Troy” have resulted with a good box-office take. Now, the producers of “300” and director Tarsem Singh takes on the Greek myth of Theseus, the Minotaur and of King Hyperion in …
review by . November 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Swords and sandals, blood and guts all in 3D - The Immortals is a fun escape
I love those old movies about the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Ray Harryhausen was the master back when I was a kid. The remake of his classic Clash of the Titans was a bit of a disappointment to me. So I went to see the Immortals with a little bit of reluctance. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this film a lot of fun. The special effects are excellent and in my opinion the 3D effects were used very well, which is not always the case. Of course the old movies from the 50's and 60's were …
review by . November 12, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         Immortals is visually extravagant – a triumph of special effects, costume design, and art direction. This is to be expected from Tarsem, who belongs on the same shelf as Tim Burton as one of the most unique visually inclined directors alive. While not the film’s greatest achievement, he should be commended for shooting it in 3D and successfully translating the process into a theater format. For the first time in what seems like ages, …
Quick Tip by . November 12, 2011
Visually arresting, and has more violent action scenes than one may expect. "Immortals" is extremely nice to behold and I would be stupid to deny its entertainment value. The plot and the characters may be a little uninspired, as the film focuses more on the grittiness and raw narrative 'bang' filled with machismo, and attitude. The set designs and violence are a treat to look at, and may be for its intended viewer. One needs to forget their actual interpretations of the Greek …
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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