Friday, July 6, 2012

"Immortals" (2011)

Starring Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff and Mickey Rourke
Written by Vlas Parlapanides and Charles Parlapanides
Directed by Tarsem Singh
Rated R - Violence, language, gore, nudity
Running Time: 110 Minutes

Before the rise of man, the gods waged war against the Titans.  During the war, a powerful weapon known as the Epirus Bow was lost. The Titans were defeated and imprisoned in Mount Tartarus, and the gods, led by Zeus (Luke Evans) are banned from interfering in the development of mankind unless the Titans are released.

Theseus (Henry Cavill) is a young man who lives with his single mother.  His mother is abused and called a whore by the other people of their village for having had a bastard son.  He spends his days being taught by a kindly old man (John Hurt) who teaches him to defend the weak and the innocent.  Word comes to the village that King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) who is seeking the Epirus Bow in order to release the Titans, is on his way and the village must be evacuated.  When Theseus and his mother are barred from leaving with the more affluent villagers, he gets into a fight with one of the soldiers, Lysander (Joseph Morgan).  Lysander's commander Helios (Peter Stebbings) is impressed with Theseus' skills as a warrior, and strips Lysander of his rank.

Humiliated, Lysander defects to Hyperion's ranks and informs him of the location of Theseus' village.  Hyperion is searching for an oracle who he believes will lead him to the location of the Epirus Bow.  The oracle, Phaedra (Frieda Pinto), is on the run, knowing that she can never allow Hyperion access to her visions.  Hyperion invades Theseus' village, killing Theseus' mother and capturing Theseus himself.

Soon enough, Theseus meets Phaedra and a distraction provided by the god Poseidon (Kellan Lutz) allows them to escape.  Burying his mother, he finds the Epirus Bow, but eventually loses it to Hyperion.  Now Theseus must learn to lead his people in battle to defend Tartarus from Hyperion, and expect no more help from the gods to save mankind.

This movie sucks.

Just wanted to get that out there.

The script is as murky as the photography.  Why does Hyperion attack Theseus crappy little village?  I don't know.  Did I miss it?  Maybe.  Because after the first ten minutes or so, I had a hard time caring about whatever was going on.

Everything in "Immortals" is rendered in a monochromatic gold sheen, but all of it is dark.  Even scenes that take place in the daytime are dark, to the point of being ugly.  It's hard to discern any detail in any of the sets or costumes because everyone is walking around in shadows the entire time.  So "Immortals" becomes a slog just to watch in a basic sense.  That the script doesn't make much sense and that the entire movie has such a cheap, claustrophobic look to it makes it even worse.  I can only guess how frustratingly obnoxious this movie must have been to watch in 3D.

There only seems to be about three locations in the entire film.  The big, climactic action sequences take place in cramped hallways.  Why?  I don't know.  Probably to save money, since everything about this movie looks only slightly better than a Saturday afternoon Syfy flick.  Seriously, I can't stress just how ugly and cheap this film looks.  During Theseus' big, rousing speech to the troops he stands up against... a rock wall.  I can't imagine why the director thought this would be an interesting image during a crucial moment in the film.

In terms of acting, Henry Cavill does a decent enough job with the material he's given.  I think he'll make a fine Superman next year, but Theseus is a thin role.  Mickey Rourke mumbles through his role as Hyperion, and he also annoyingly spends the entire time eating walnuts and spitting out the shells.  The rest of the characters are all pretty anonymous.  Even the gods, who wear ridiculous (and cheap) golden costumes and weird hats, aren't all that interesting.  Of them, only Zeus who appears as both an old man and in his godly form, has anything going on.

Is there anything worth watching in "Immortals?"  Some of the violence is cool; the gods' battle against the unleashed Titans at the climax features some nifty effects work and fight choreography.  The movements of the gods are some sort of strange mix of slow-motion and regular speed that looks flashy and cool, even if it doesn't make much sense.

So... this movie sucks.  If you're looking for a stylized sword-and-sandal action flick, watch "300" or Starz' "Spartacus: Blood and Sand" series.