If it's crap ... We'll tell you
For those of you that know me you know that I’m a sucker for mass scale war flicks, especially those set in the old Roman/Greek era, so the moment I saw the trailer for Immortals I knew that I was gonna be seeing it when it came out. The was a second reason I had my eye on this project though and that’s Henry Cavill. For those that don’t know, he’s our new Superman but unless you’ve seen The Tudors (which I haven’t) he’s been pretty under the radar for most of his career and so this would be a good opportunity for most of the world to see what he’s capable of. So the big question is Cavill capable of carrying a film? I’ll let you know after a brief synopsis.
Immortals takes place back in Ancient Greece thousands of years after a war in the heavens between the immortals that left the losers (The Titans) banished in Tartarus and the victors (The Gods) taking their place as the rulers of the sky. During the chaos of the war though the Epirus Bow, a powerful weapon from the Gods, fell to Earth holding with it the power to unleash the Titans if held in the wrong hands. A warmonger king, Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), feverishly seeks the location of this bow to do just that so that he may exact his revenge on the Gods for taking everything that he ever loved from him. To do so he must find the Oracle (Frida Pinto), a virgin woman gifted with visions of the future, and during his search he plows a poor village where he has encounter with Theseus (Henry Cavill) a man chosen by Zeus (Luke Evans) to protect his homeland and save the Gods. During this fated meeting Hyperion commits a despicable action that sets causes him to be the object of Theseus’ vengeance and sets the course to the War on the Gods.
Now I can tell you right off the back that I enjoyed this movie quite a bit and because I have less cons than pros I’ll switch it up this time and list my cons first. My first and probably biggest issue with Immortals is that for a guy that is looking to wage war on the gods, Hyperion doesn’t seem to have a big enough reason be that upset (or at least it’s not fleshed out enough). He explains his reasoning briefly towards the beginning of the movie but after hearing his gripe with the Gods I couldn’t help but ask “Is it really that serious?”. Without giving up the reason why, the movie could’ve benefited from a flashback scene or a monologue to give some more pathos and weight to it all but because they didn’t go that route he ends up just looking like a guy who’s evil just because this movie needs a villain. Another problem that I had with this movie was that there were too many moments in this movie where things just seem to drag on. Because the action sequences are so damn good the slow moments seem that much slower because of the anticipation for the next fight sequence. Also some of the dialogue in this film left a bit to be desired as there were some truly eye roll worthy moments. Last for as gorgeous as Frida Pinto is, much like in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, she gave a very muted and mousey performance in this and didn’t really do much for me in this. Now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…the pros!
The biggest compliment that I can give this movie and the one you’ll see in probably all the reviews you see is that this movie is absolutely gorgeous. The director, Tarsem Singh, is known for the Renaissance painting-like visual style that he brings to his films and with a larger than life, mythology based film like this he was an inspired choice. Everything seemed to be shrouded in this bright golden hue that helped give it a fairytale like quality that makes sense due to its origins. To further praise the visuals in this movie, the CGI/Green screen work is seamless and expertly done. In alot of movies you can obviously see when green screen is being used but with Immortals they found a way to really make it so that everything meshed together perfectly so that even when you knew CG was used it never took you out of the scene. Also as you’d expect the fight scenes in this movie utilize slo-mo, but unlike 300, it isn’t the centerpiece of the action. The high speed photography used in Immortals is usually saved for when the Gods (aka Team Fuck Shit Up) get involved in the action to really drive the point home that they are almighty and trust me, when they show up it is truly a sight to behold. The other big compliment that I wanna give this movie is that for a film of this caliber, the acting for the most part was pretty top notch. Before I address the elephant in the room, I’ll talk about the others that I thought did a good job. Stephen Dorff (one of my favorite actors who’s careers seems to have experienced a rebirth recently) essentially played the comic relief in the group, but unlike most comic relief characters he never looked useless or wasn’t constantly bumbling around needing the main character to save the day. He gaves so levity to the mostly serious group, provided some laughs for the crowd and still came off as a capable warrior when shit hit the fan. Even though I criticized his character’s motivation earlier, Mickey Rourke portrayed Hyperion as if he was a God himself. This guy believed that he was a force of nature and he was hellbent on making the world believe it too or else. Rourke, who already has a deep and menacing voice, intentionally talked very slowly to make it seem like every word that he was saying was a statement. That gravely voice of his admittedly made me a bit unsettled in scenes where he spoke from behind a mask. Now when someone talks about Zeus pretty much everyone things of a majestic man with white hair surrounding his face who throws lightening bolts at people. Because of this mental image that we’ve all come accustomed to, when I saw that Luke Evans was who they chose for Zeus I was admittedly skeptical. Evans seemed fully aware of people’s doubts and made damn sure that he made a statement because he did a great job. Despite his youthful looks he played Zeus with a certain prestige and sense of hierarchy that made him seem superior to the other gods despite probably being about the same age as the actors that played them. And last but not last there is the aforementioned elephant in the room, Henry Cavill, who after this movie I am convinced is ready to be a leading man. Henry Cavill brings the perfect amount of intensity and urgency to his role as the vengeful Theseus and makes him totally convincing as the chosen leader of humanity in this war. Theseus is a man who fears nothing except not being able to protect those he cares about and because of this he shows on more than one occasion that when said person is threatened he attacks with reckless abandon. It’s this “man of action” mentality of his that I find so refreshing in a day in age where too often do action heroes sometimes take too much time trying to work out their next action in their head and really made it fun to watch him fight on screen. Also Cavill is an actor that actually seems like he’s really LISTENING to other characters when they speak which makes his reactions seem more realistic and genuine than you’d expect them to be. He may not be as physically imposing as Leonidas but he makes just as convincing of a leader and that to me is impressive. All in all I felt like Immortals, while not a great (or even necessarily a “good” one) film, was visually arresting, featured good acting and had some really exciting spectacle thrown in there to really make it a majorly enjoyable popcorn war film. If you’re looking for a good movie to see as a group before the inevitable onslaught of Twilight, I definitely suggest that you check this out.