So this weekend I had to choose between the leathery make-up face of Leonardo DiCaprio in J. Edgar, or the leathery regular face of Mickey Rourke in Immortals. I chose the latter.
Both movies got awful reviews, but J. Edgar seemed to veer towards the consensus that it’s long and boring, while Immortals was coming across as meandering violent hogwash with unclear storytelling. I’ll choose slow-motion sword fighting over Oscar bait biopic 75% of the time if I have to. I don’t know if I made the right choice, because Immortals certainly wasn’t good, but at least it had some neat visuals than I’m sure J. Edgar did not.
With that, let me start with the big plus for Immortals; the visual stimuli. From a set design / cinematography / special effects standpoint, everything was tip-top. The whole film sort of had a gold and red tint to it, but it worked for the setting. Even in the boring scenes there was typically something interesting to look at, or at least things were framed in an interesting way. Some of the fight scenes, especially towards the back-end, were really cool. The fights with the gods moving in full speed with their victims reduced to slow motion deaths in the same fluid shots were particularly cool. The 3D wasn’t anything special really, in my opinion, and the theater I went to wasn’t even offering this film in 2D. So that was kind of a waste of money.
For a movie that seemed like a ton of thought went into making the shots look pretty, it was frustrating that the screenplay behind it was so lackluster. It was a back and forth treatment of exciting action moments with really boring exposition. Exciting. Then boring. Exciting. boring. Really exciting! Oh, then really boring… From the best of my memory, the basic plot of the film was that a heathen king named Hyperion was trying to take over the world because he hates the gods or something, and a peasant named Theseus was chosen by the gods to lead the humans against him. Seems simple enough. Now, my short-term memory must be really bad, because I can’t figure out for the life of me why this movie was so long. There must have been a ton of story points that I don’t even remember because if you asked me to explain the plot in intricate detail I wouldn’t be able to do so. Admittedly (and perhaps embarrassingly) I did halfway fall asleep during a scene and woke up in the next scene when a bunch of loud stuff happened. I was tired before I walked into the theater, so I won’t fully blame the movie, but I’ve been even more tired before at other films and stayed awake because they were really entertaining. Just saying.
The acting was mediocre. Seemed like a lot of phoned in performances. Especially from Mickey Rourke. Stephen Dorff was doing his best 1990′s Christian Slater impression.
I don’t know what to say about Immortals other than it was really nice to look at, but the story and the pacing and the acting were really boring. If you compare it to 300 (which everyone is rightfully doing), it doesn’t work as well as Zach Snyder’s film because 300 was just an insane collection of fast-moving action scenes. It didn’t try to be anything else. Immortals tried to be more than that through a poorly laid out story and uninteresting characters, and it failed. Give me a new cut of Immortals that’s more concise in the storytelling, 35 minutes shorter, and 50% more randomly insane and I think we’ll be in business.
Hoping to watch it this week, so thanks for tampering my expectations.
[Scott Roberts] "Stephen Dorff was doing his best 1990′s Christian Slater impression."
Haha! If the movie is terrible thinking about this should keep me entertained!
The director for this picture, Tarsem Singh, is really into making the photography reminiscent of the work of the Old Master painters. He's all about composing painterly frames and is inspired by David Fincher, I've read. I don't know that he's equally good at wringing performances from actors or a flow from a script.
This movie is trying hard to ride the cape-tails of "300", but 300 was based (if loosely) on a historic actual battle.
Immortals is not, it's based on myths. And I think what makes the job harder is that, where in 300 you have men pitted against men, (more or less), when you tell a story about Gods and men, or Gods Vs. Gods, you lose a lot of edge to the story-telling, since gods can do *anything*.
If a man or half-man/half-god can beat a full-on God, it wasn't much of a God. And by definition a God can do anything, see what's coming, and easily defeat a mortal man. If that's all the story comes down to, it really takes free will out of the storytelling equation on a fundamental level, so I think an audience can't get as deeply involved with the protagonist because his fate is sealed from the start.
And if it's Gods against Gods, they are pretty lame and stupid Gods if men can mess with their plans. So where's the tension in the story, apart from immediate survival of the protagonist?
[Mark Suszko] "And if it's Gods against Gods, they are pretty lame and stupid Gods if men can mess with their plans. So where's the tension in the story, apart from immediate survival of the protagonist?"
Immortals is actually men vs. men at its core. Here's where the gods/men conflict comes into play. They establish through voice over back story in the beginning that there were a bunch of immortal people in the heavens, and they started fighting. The ones who were victorious in battle became the Gods, the ones who were defeated became Titans. The Titans were imprisoned inside a mountain.
The conflict comes from Mickey Rourke's character, King Hyperion, who wants to release the Titans from their prison so that they can kill the gods and destroy mankind. Because he thinks the gods are jerks for letting his family die of illness.
Though, you then get into the whole thing of why would a heathen king who doesn't believe in the gods then believe in the titans? Who are fallen gods? I don't know... If you watch the movie I'm sure you'll find a plethora of flaws just like I did. That still doesn't take away from he fact that it all looks real purdy.
[Jeff Breuer] "Haha! If the movie is terrible thinking about this should keep me entertained!"
The whole time was honestly thinking that Christian Slater from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was like the exact same character, haha.
So, if I'm a subject of King Hyperion, and he says he's going to release the titans, so all humans will be killed, because he's feeling emo... why do I go along with that, and not just run away?
Hyperion kind of has a Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now thing going on. He has a good slew of crazy speeches he gives to simple minded people, and in turn they follow him rather blindly. Now, if an intelligent person like yourself were to wander into his path and not buy into his way of thinking; Hyperion's blind followers (i.e. THUGS) will be more than happy to intimidate and/or torture and/or kill you... Book-smarts can't beat out a guy with a heavy beating club back then, I suppose...