Monday, November 14, 2011

IMMORTALS: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Isabel Lucas
Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar
Runtime: 110 min.
Verdict: On the pleasure scale there’s been nothing like it for a long time.
Genre: Fantasy, Mythology, Action, Drama

        Immortals is overwhelming. It is the exact sort of movie I would want to buy and watch at home while thanking technology for the pause and rewind buttons. It is quite remarkable the way Mr. Singh flushes all attempts at motion to create exclusively static frames. Often he uses motion to complete his compositions, and we chuckle at this exhibition of flamboyance. Often there’s no aid, no lines to aid the perception of depth, and his frames almost recede into painting. The Priestess Phaedra (Ms. Pinto) wakes up from a nightmare, and since she’s the Oracle the nightmare ought to be promoted to a vision. I’m incredibly bad at this, but she is wearing a silken red garment of some sort. Behind her on the wall is a mural depicting the Titans locked inside the Tartarus. A figure from the left of the frame wakes up, and then one from the center, and then one from the right, and although I might be wrong with the order each of them feel like the petals of a flower. There’re dozens of overhead shots, considering that the Olympian Gods Zeus (Mr. Evans), Athena (Ms. Lucas) and others of their ilk are looking at the action from above, and not one of them is as awesome as that of a boat belonging to King Hyperion’s (Mr. Rourke) army is made out of the same shape as his jackal headgear, which, in a medium shot, for a moment or two against that backdrop of calm waters, feels like his headgear itself. You see, his stamp is everywhere, and these folks here are not without an appreciation for the manifold virtues of theatricality. Neither is Mr. Singh. Here’s that rare film that has been made more with the camera and less with the scissor, which, when it comes to a fantasy picture, is more often than not a good thing.
        Not that the kinetics is completely sucked out of Immortals. The Titans, for some curious reason rendered as a mummy version of the guys we’ve come to know over the years with charred bodies and savagery flowing through their veins, are swift. The Olympians are quick. Their battle is a clash of the immortals, and Mr. Singh, for all his fantastic escapades, seems to be building an oeuvre that examines the tensions between the real and magical. I even suspect, Mr. Singh might be a borderline plausible. His ultimate action sequence clearly draws the line of demarcation between the mortals and the immortals, and while the former are shot through natural and often preternatural (slow-mo) action sequences, the latter are battling entirely through supernatural imagery. While 300 merely played around with the speeds of the frame, Mr. Singh lays out multiple planes of action at different speeds leave me convinced to declare it a game-changer. A sequence inside a tunnel against Hyperion’s rampaging army reminds one of Oldboy. Mr. Singh uses exclusively classical composition, even during the battle sequences, and not even a single action shot is a result of an edit. In its grand-standing and violence it feels more like the marriage of those 60s Biblical features and our post-Gladiator sword-and-sandal world, which it saves from all those Saving Private Ryan influences that had got a bit out of hand.
        The genre had lost its belief in its mythology, intending to make the proceedings “grittier” and “realistic”, sort of like Mr. Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood film. The Gods were completely cast out of Troy. Here, the mortal kings and peasants do not believe in the existence of such beings as Gods, or any mythical creatures, and when Zeus and Aethra and Poseidon and the other Gods land on the earth, it is not merely here but within the genre where Mr. Singh has summoned their presence. What’s more, with The Cell and The Fall, and now Immortals, he seems to have completed a trilogy of sorts, where two clearly demarcated realities freely intermingle with each other, and affect the outcome of the other. One might not be stretching matters if he were to coin the term “The Dual-Reality Trilogy”.
        The fact of the matter is I feel completely inept at the moment. The silken robe flowing over Phaedra squatted thighs, inwards whilst her legs are gracefully arched is as simple and as erotic a set-up for a love-making scene as there can be. The pleasures here are that of pure cinema and I suspect if one hasn’t watched Immortals twice or devoured each one of its frames over a long sitting, one hasn’t watched it at all. More so in my case, where the first viewing of the film has been more or less spent masturbating to those pleasures. So I shall wait. For my second viewing. Consider this an instant reaction.

2 comments:

Dan O. said...

It’s probably one of the best-looking films of the whole year (yet, I still haven’t seen Tree of Life) and the action is awesome and in-you-face which is something I always like. The story dragged on a bit and I couldn’t help but think that if the writing was a tweaked a little better, this would have definitely been a very solid film. Instead it was just fun and pretty to look at. Good review. Check out mine when you get the chance.

Anonymous said...

Movie was so-so, trying to cash in on the success, not of 300, but of the God of War video game series. Sadly, hollywood fails at trying to recreate a smart story that one can get behind, like Santa Monica Studio managed to do with GoW. The titans in Immortals were a disappointment. I was expecting towering man-beasts that would make sky scrapers look short...Hopefully one day we get a great God of War movie(s)..otherwise ancient Greece stories will continue to fall flat