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Immortals (2011)

August 22, 2012

When Zach Synder’s 300 opened in 2007, audiences and critics were taken by its visuals. I was among the excited masses blown away by the trailer and sat front and center its opening weekend. I admittedly saw it multiple times while in theaters despite my slight disappointment upon my initial viewing. I was unimpressed by the rubbery action sequences and constant computer generated blood spatters that happened during fight scenes; also the manufactured look of ancient Sparta just didn’t hold up the way my expectations had hoped they would. If it weren’t for the chiseled eight packs on brawny men running around in speedos with perfectly sculpted thighs, then I would have only seen 300 once at my request.

Regardless, the success of 300 resulted in a mass amount of imitators utilizing superimposed chroma key filmmaking, or blue screen, to make their own versions of bland action films. Beowulf, The Watchmen, Sucker Punch, and Clash of Titans were all films I had no desire to see due to my general nonchalance for films with heavy CGI, however, Tarsem Signh’s Immortals piqued my interest. Although reviews were sparse and mostly negative, I dragged my dude along to see it in theaters last year and was astonished. Nevertheless, the negative air that surrounded it, even my dude’s own mediocre response, made me unsure of whether it was legitimately a great movie or if I had hit the sauce too hard that night. It was only after recently rewatching it numerous times that I can shout, “Hey guess what? I love Immortals!” Its times like this when I feel that it’s my duty to society, as a film critic, to explain why regardless if you end up liking it or hating it, Immortals is a must see film.

Now let’s get down to the brass tacks, Immortal’s isn’t perfect. The story itself is shoddy and confusing at times as it’s supposedly a loose retelling of the Greek hero and founder of Athens, Theseus, however, according to my research on Theseus, Immortals took great liberties with that. Here, Theseus is low class mortal living with his mother and shamed by society because he was born out of rape. The King, Hyperion, is currently on the search to find the Empirus Bow, a tool that will give him the power to release the Titans, the only beings that can kill the gods, thus allowing Hyperion to rule over mankind. The gods, not wanting to medal in human affairs, put their faith in Theseus in hopes that he will lead his people to defeat Hyperion and save humanity.

Despite these liberties, the plot still lends itself for a simply entertaining tale of the fight against evil, but it’s Singh’s direction that makes me squirm in excitement with bulged eyes while watching. Immortals is gorgeous, perhaps physically the most beautiful film I’ve seen since The Fountain, and if I were to watch The Fountain over, I’m sure Immortals would trump its beauty (although I have yet to see any of Singh’s previous films). Through intricate details in lighting, depth of field and color, Singh exquisitely recreates elements from his obvious inspiration, Italian Renaissance paintings. Immortals moves with a poetic flow that makes such a mythical world seem natural and realistic based solely on its looks. Characters are framed in stances that create geometrical shapes and patterns which make for scenes that look as if they were plucked from a museum. The use of deep focus gives objects in the background the same clarity that images in the foreground receive allowing every scene to hold so much detail that it’s almost impossible to advert your eyes. The world of ancient Greece looks massive, giving humans a look of insignificance in their surroundings, therefore, making the triumphs of Thesus in such a colossal world all the more impressive.

There are elements of Immortals that I know are digital, but overall the CGI and cinematography unfolds with such precision that at times it’s hard to pick out what’s real and what’s blue screen effects such as the ripples in the ocean or jagged rocks in a mountain. Lighting creates multiple textures and deep volume within the images and the costume design gives rise to elaborate clothing that take on a life of their own; reds are crimson, blues are ultramarine, whites are ivory and nearly everything pops out in golden tinged lighting that makes almost every scene picturesque.

In spite all its beauty, Immortals also does a great job of making ancient Greece seem gritty and brutal, a more realistic portrayal of the period given that mankind was less evolved in many ways. The horrific Brazen Bull is featured as torture for condemned patrons and the mythical creature and the Minotaur receives a more pragmatic portrayal. Instead of a half-beast, half-man, the Minotaur is the hulking keeper in the dungeon of punishment who sports a steel poison head-piece in the shape of a bull, ready to kick ass and take names.

Immortals isn’t perfect, it suffers from mediocre dialogue, occasional subpar acting, a few bad edits, and yes there’s a fight scene where you can see the blade of a sword bend like paper, but for a fantasy action film it’s amazing. It gives viewers everything you can expect from of a movie of its genre and then some thanks to Signh’s beautiful direction. Besides, it’s a movie based around Greek Mythology which in itself is overly dramatic and fanciful. Yet of all the films to have tried it to pull it off, Immortals got it right and showcases not only the evolution of art in film but also the continuing evolution of film itself.

SEE IT. At least once, it just might blow your effing mind.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Alethia permalink
    December 17, 2013 3:52 PM

    Just when I miss talking to you daily about movies I rediscover your blog. I was telling someone today how I can read through your archives again and again never tiring of your fresh, original criticisms. I HATED Immortals (The Dude loved it and constantly tries to convince me that I just missed something lol), but I love the points you enjoyed it for and this post makes me want to give it another viewing.

    • December 17, 2013 6:08 PM

      Aww thank you so much! I truly appreciate the kind words, you’re one of my favorite people to discuss movies with! I remember you saying you hated Immortals before, and honestly I can’t blame you. I get why people think it’s cheesy and subpar. As mentioned though the visuals just blow me away which makes the entire story unlike anything I’ve seen on screen before. The dude on my end still doesn’t get why I like it so much either lol. He’s keeps trying to assure me that the visuals aren’t great enough to constitute it being anything above average as a film. Miss you lady ❤

  2. Ionutneculai38 permalink
    July 30, 2014 3:59 PM

    Nice

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