“Immortals” is Dead on Arrival
I am a man of many ideas but few beliefs. But now I’m not betting on a horse that’s won me so much so far. More specifically, after seeing a trailer I had anticipated as much as any trailer for any movie being released this entire year, I have to admit: there are some problems with the “Immortals.”
1) Matching greatness:
Tarsem Singh’s “The Fall” is an extraordinary film and because to comment on the striking visuals at this point borders on the same cliché as commenting on Band of Horses’s reverb-laden vocals, I’ll instead note the actual story. As much as the fantasy story within the movie tries to be a classical romance, the movie itself is far too grounded in abject cynicism—creating the conflict between Roy and Alexandria. Their conflict, though, is also one of being in seemingly incompatible demographics—a, 27-year-old, Joe Hollywood stuntman and a poor, 4-year-old, Romanian girl. Their camaraderie is a testament to human interaction in the vein of “Harold and Maude,” though with so much more energy and sword fighting.
2) Color Scheme:
De-saturate the color + up the contrast + yellow filter = Booming banality. “Immortals” doesn’t look like “300,” “Clash of the Titans” or HBO’s “Spartacus.” Instead, it looks like all of them, and now fallen into a color scheme that neither resembles reality nor enhances it. The cut-and-paste style has to be to cinematographers what bullet-time was to fight choreographers mere years ago. Sure, everyone can now comment on the craft, but so what? It eliminates discussion diversity.
3) Mickey Rouke:
“The Wrestler” was hailed as Mickey Rouke’s comeback film as if the man had been physically dead for the previous ten years. In just the few films before Rouke’s conversion to Hollywood’s unearned elite, he was in “Sin City,” “Once Upon a Time in Mexico,” “Domino” and some movie, whose poster detached my retinas, called “Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker.” Since those films, Rouke has gone onto to gravelly mutter his way through “Killshot,” “The Expendables” and “Iron Man 2.” And based on the trailer, “Immortals” fits his over-hyped style perfectly.
4) Dumb Armies:
You know how many extras were used in Kubrick’s “Spartacus”? Or “Braveheart”? A few thousand. Meh. About the same amount necessary to fill up the first couple of rows at Arrowhead Stadium. Meanwhile Tarsem is digitally re-creating the population of the greater Kansas City area and half of St. Louis. But the armies of old (films) still feel bigger because the opposition acted scarred. You know, perhaps with the scarce humility that not everybody on your side, including your dumb ass self, is freaking Batman.
5) Motivational speech:
“To those who much is given—or never mind, lets fight in slow-mo.” And if we’re just going to strip this trailer of any self-confidence, make sure to include one shot of unprompted nudity. Evidently, this tactic “fools” girls into thinking this barbarism, and all the barbarism like it, has a love story, but more likely guys just lift an eyebrow, curious if the film just promised naked chicks. “Come on, at least give us some side-boob,” the frat guys scream.
As if to apologize to or perhaps, more cynically, to trick the audience that this movie is in 3-D, the announcement is not intermixed with the action but rather saved for the small--no refunds--print. But to hell with 3-D. This shouldn’t even be a discussion anymore. What is the “long-form birth certificate” equivalent to ending this debate?
7) Misunderstanding of history:
This is not about factual inaccuracies—“Inglorious Basterds” is my favorite WWII film—but rather that clearly nobody considered why this, or any Greek, story survived for the last 3000 years. Amazingly, CGI films have only been around for the better part of 20 years, and film at all for only the last century. So in the time before things were exploding and people getting bloodied/naked on screen, why did anyone give a fart to pass along these stories? Because, ultimately, these Greek tales let us live out the duel-edged fantasy that misfortune in our lives is the result of celestial conspiracies and not our own incompetence; while at the same time gives us the reassurance that we can overpower any force if we just really, really, really, really wanted to.
I pushed people into seeing “The Fall” with vigor rarely matched and so felt like I had a duty, as a self-described patron of quality entertainment, to make “Immortals” the success it needs to be in order to fuel a demand of similar genius. Unfortunately, as is, I simply can’t talk up this film. I think a piece of me just died.