If There Is One Human Who Could Lead Them Against Hyperion, It Would Be Monday Movies.
Immortals is a ridiculous and silly movie, but Monday Movies enjoyed Tarsem’s last outing and hadn’t read any reviews, and the Mrs. and we figured it would be fun to take in swords and sandals with our friend Leigh, so off we went. (Wednesday Food may enjoy knowing that all three of us enjoyed an Allagash at dinner before the show.) The short review: don’t see it, and feel free to make fun of me for seeing it.
Tarsem, an accomplished music video and commercial director, is known for luscious images and prefilmic effects using grandiose locales instead of CGI wizardry. The Fall, his previous film, was an underrated reverse-Scheherazade in which an injured stunt man spun out a tale in order to get a little girl to bring him the pills he needed to kill himself. The framing device was novel, and allowed for a shaggy-dog story set amid ravishing visuals including swimming elephants and Charles Darwin in a technicolor feather coat.
Immortals has a number of striking sets, but seems to have gone down the CGI rabbit hole. Unfortunately the sets and the CGI are both contrived-looking in ways that don’t entirely match, making it nauseating to keep recalibrating your suspension of disbelief. The sets look a bit like the Getty Center and the CGI is used to great effect in bloody head explosions. There are truly weird bits where a fight is going in slow motion while a recently bisected body is separating in super-slow motion. Mostly, though, the fights just look like a video game where you’re walking sideways across the screen hacking people up.
The story is a not-even-trying pastiche of Greek mythology. Mickey Rourke’s King Hyperion, whose armies are ravaging Hellenus, threatens to release the Titans imprisoned under Mt. Tartarus to help him ravage. Brave Theseus, trained by Zeus in disguise as John Hurt, resembles one of those oafish virginal farmer’s sons in the old jokes (the actor, Henry Cavill, is set to play Superman, which I guess makes sense). In addition to Zeus, there are Athena, Poseidon, probably Apollo, and a few other dim-rent-boy-looking god-types who hang out in Olympus and fret about intervening in mortal affairs. The minotaur and the labyrinth are referenced in visually, but in a manner not at all faithful to the actual myth of Theseus.
Tarsem’s visual intelligence shines most brightly in the scenes where he gets to put people in hats:
The four oracles have these great basket-y hats that I can’t find pictures of online. Also (spoiler alert), the true oracle can only tell the future if she’s undespoiled, but then she goes and bones Theseus! Bad timing if you ask me, though it all works out in the end.
Mrs. K-sky whispered to me re Mickey Rourke/Hyperion’s hat, “Bunnicula dentata.”
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