Quote of the Day

"We're only here briefly, and while I'm here I want to allow myself joy. So fuck it."
- Amy, Her.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

RE:View: Immortals

The hype based around Greek-mythology-action film Immortals was a tale of two halves. The first, with obvious reason, was whether this could be the natural successor to 2006's swords-and-sandals epic, 300, boasting a visual flair and some truly spectacular slow-mo fight sequences. The other buzz-inducing topic was its lead actor, Henry Cavill. The rising British born star (a relative unknown for most) will be donning the cape and tights for Zach Snyder's Man of Steel in 2013, and as such, Immortals was seen as a proving ground for the 28 year old, as to whether his performing prowess can lend itself to a believable and relatable Clark Kent. While they're both lofty asks, it's safe to say that Immortals does indeed deliver to a certain extent on either side.

   The story is straight forward enough, as it follows Greek hero Theseus (Cavill) on his journey to prevent the evil forces of Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, no less) from unleashing the God-forsaken (literally) Titans and bringing about war between the worlds of God and Man. Putting new spins on ancient legends along the way (such as the Minotaur), Theseus finds himself in love with a worshipped oracle (Freida Pinto), leading a mass army of men, and battling alongside the gods themselves.

The plot and story-telling, however, doesn't hold so strong against its epic prose. The script can be sloppy in places to the point where things get a little tedious, with the narrative feeling more like a scrapbook of bits and pieces, rather than a ravelling novel of grandeur. Sure, Theseus is out adventuring the lands, but there's a lot of to and fro between places, a back and forth cycle of sets and scenes.  And although they look great, thanks to the unique style of director Tarsem Singh, the golden back drops and luscious colour contrasts get tired because of these flaws, teasing the viewer with a fresh, even grander picture on the horizon, but never pulling through.

Visually Stunning
That's not to say that the art direction is sub-standard by any means. Singh has a definite vision throughout the film, which is evident in the richness of cinematography involved. Despite the repetitive discrepancies, we're given some bizarrely fantastic situations to look at that will resonate in the mind for a little while, be it a clash of golden-clad gods or the sight of blackened drenched heroes by the sea. Coupled with the mesmerising costume design, ranging from red, vibrant Indian gowns and gold, shining armours to the swathe of  the iron grey drab of Hyperion's menacingly masked army, and you've got a sure spectacle of a movie.

At its heart, of course, Immortals is an action film, taking no prisoners in its execution of blood, guts and gore, as warriors exchange blows and gods exchange mega-blows. Masterfully choreographed and beautifully shot, these battle sequences provide the movie's best moments - especially when gods get involved. Heads explode, flesh rips and screams fly; often in a show of awesome slow-mo. It may reverberate that of 300's unforgettable action scenes, but when it looks this spectacular and exciting, who can blame them?
May the best god win!
 But when we get outside of the action, the quality sags again. It's not that these parts aren't necessary, it's just they are staggeringly boring. Don't get me wrong, I hate pure action movies where the characters don't stop for a breather once in a while, but here it just doesn't flow so well. And its for one good reason; I don't particularly care about these people. The characters are never given enough chance to flesh themselves out, coming off with an alarming lack of depth. Theseus never questions "Why me?", we never really know why Hyperion is the evil bastard he is, and the attempts of humour by Theseus's newly befriended roguish thief fall flat because his personality is so one dimensional.

A small step...
  Regardless of the near transparency of his character, Cavill manages to pull off a decent performance, playing out emotions of anger, sorrow and determination confidently and fluently, especially in this selfless, leader-warrior role. His ability to perform well in action is an indication of his overall talent, proving himself worthy to be the next Son of Krypton as well as everyone's favourite Daily Planet reporter. Meanwhile Mickey Rourke gives us a frighteningly grim Hyperion, capable of the dirtiest of deeds thanks to his dedicated execution, and John Hurt drops by as the archetypical old man with his usual graceful ease.

If you just take Immortals as what it is - 110 minutes of action pumped, CGI prettiness - then you can't help but walk away from the cinema happy. Those hoping for a bit more depth and a journey into some deep mythology should look elsewhere, but at least stick around to check out Cavill's performance. 3D, once again, is a 'meh', but the look and feel of the thing is a rare breed entirely and one that can be admired for many a year.

It may not be winning awards any time soon, but at least it's not Clash of The Titans:
3/5 Stars

  Either way, I think Supes is in safe hands...



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