Sunday, April 17, 2016
Review: Immortals (2011)
Scream to us, o nudes, an evocation of old Harryhausen and ignite a flame under that testosterone cauldron inside all of us, the same one that encourages you to fistbump your wife after the closeup of the virgin oracle's butt. The very same that causes her to oblige.
Cribbing from various details of Greek mythology but throwing the details into the pits of Scaldor, we are whisked away on a fast moving adventure that can only insist on a massive scope but remain confined to what looks like about four greenscreen sets. Things move quickly, and then much too quickly, and then much much too quickly. Truly amazing moments stand inches from each other, moments that need at least thirty seconds of separation -- a time lapse or a montage or something -- in order for the story to actually function. How characters travel so quickly or why we couldn't start the film in the salt mines so that Mickey Rourke's war can seem endless, are deemed irrelevant. They occasionally are irrelevant in the face of a violent encounter with a Minotaur, a God of War set piece crushing everyone's head with a hammer, and a Call to Arms speech punctuated with sword smacks to the shield. Sparta where?
Singh is running fast here. The script is barely ahead of the cameras and as such, we lose out on a better constructed story, something the filmmakers deserve as much as we do. Tarsem has allowed improvisation to change the nature of the script before (The Fall's climactic sword fight originally involved the Hypochondriac as villain, not the Actor), so he's no stranger to driving himself completely nutso. It works partially towards the film's benefit that the story is so bare -- it ends up as a fairly accurate echo of a poet's song. Neal Stephenson once used an analogy for squished history, compact information you can breeze past in a line at Disneyland, something you can never unspool and examine. If we are the child at the end of the film, staring at a depiction of Theseus's adventures on a statue, knowing only the highlights and not the ordeal, we are content but long to have actually lived it.