Violence Justified by the Story

Immortals (2011)
Dir: Tarsem Singh
Stars: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans and John Hurt

This film is one of those where you watch the preview and say to yourself either, “I’m in!  Can’t wait!” or, “I will probably never see that movie for any reason .”

For me, I was in from the beginning – not sure if you remember my post from back in July 2011 when the first full length preview came out for Immortals, but the visuals of the film hinted at in the preview, combined with the fact that I had really enjoyed both The Cell and The Fall by Tarsem Singh equalled my going to see this film opening weekend.  That said, I wasn’t disappointed.  And that’s a swell feeling: I was recently talking with a pal of mine who similarly had just watched the latest Twilight movie.  She had been looking forward to the film for months, seen all the sneak peeks, read all the books and obviously seen all the previous films (SEVERAL times) – and she wasn’t disappointed either!  So, as this discussion pertains to Immortals, the film gets a “plus” to begin with because its preview did a fine job of advising just what kind of movie the audience is getting into – and then not disappointing. 

If you enjoy art, photography, cinematography or even going to museums, this film might be for you.  In one of the many interviews I read regarding the film, Singh discusses how he’s influenced by art and sought to make the film look like a painting.  Well, the use of lighting, costumes and different lenses to capture truly mythic images is impressive, and one of the biggest positives of the movie.  The fact that Immortals was shot on a set shocked me: not sure how much you know about Singh’s previous film, The Fall, but that was shot all over the globe!  Apparently this film was intended to be shot on a set from the get-go, but it doesn’t show at all.  From a visual standpoint, you feel as if it’s a Greek poem come to life in watching the movie. 

Lots of the complaints I heard about Immortals surrounded “overdone” acting and its intense violence.  Well, isn’t that exactly what’s contained in the original Greek poems this story is based on?  When you’re reading the stories in high school or college, and suddenly so-and-so removes someone else’s tongue, you kind of grimace and move on.  But this film is definitely more challenging to stomach as some of the violence briefly and eloquently described in the old myths comes to life… 

That said, some of the intense, sweeping, heroic action is also captured, which makes Immortals so fun to watch.  When the hero, Theseus – in all his “ab-nificent” glory – runs around and cuts his enemies to bits in slow motion, it’s pretty exciting.  I would classify this movie with The Matrix in this respect: all of the cartoonish violence, the immeasurable acts that the characters achieve and the uber-violence displayed by the villains are justified by the story.  In short, the story separates the movie from plenty of other stinkers out there who merely try to cash in by imitating the latest special effects craze.  For example, when Poseidon jumps off a cloud and joins a team of Gods as they battle a bunch of crazed Titans, their acts are justified by the ancient story this movie’s based on!  You just have to decide for yourself whether or not you’re interested in seeing some of this action come to life in gross detail.

One final thought: I have to give kudos to the actors and casting director who put them in the film for looking and moving like the Gods they portray.  My goodness, this was a “beautiful people” movie!

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One Response to Violence Justified by the Story

  1. Drew says:

    Liked it overall, but I thought the middle of the movie dragged. Movies with action need those mini-climaxes throughout the middle before the end. This one just led to one big climax. Example: when he found the magic bow, he only shot those four guys in a row–just one occasion! Not nearly enough fun-and-games through the movie as there should have been. Great point about looking like a painting, though; it was a cool looking film, apparently on purpose!

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