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Monday, 14 November 2011

The Immortals Will Not Live Long in the Memory

Last night I went to the cinema to watch The Immortals 3D. I have to say up front that I am fussy in my movie viewing and have high expectations. I want films to be intelligent and to tell a good story with rounded characters I can believe in and empathise with. I am often disappointed and in The Immortals (I now realise) I was bound to be disappointed since it isn't that kind of film.

First of all I have a beef with 3D. There are a few moments when 3D is amazing, when objects float in mid air between the viewer and the screen. But these moments are so rare that they do not justify watching a film wearing sun glasses. What the viewer gains in depth of field he or she loses in brightness and colour. I have seen two films in 3D just recently and with both I wanted to say, 'Can someone please put the light on'.

On a positive side the Immortals has some spectacular computer generated imagery and the beefcake actors are lovely to look at. But the film is a disappointment because it presents charactures rather than characters: the evil Hyperion is covered in scars and crushes people's heads when they bring him bad news. He seeks to destroy mankind because the gods failed to save the lives of his wife and child. Thus he holds a special contempt for priests, setting fire to one after dowsing him in oil. This is all we know about Hyperion, a villain with no back story and no complexity, someone we can hate with a clean conscience.

The heroic Theseus is physically perfect but incredibly boring. We know nothing about him except he loves his mum, wants to protect poor people and has been blessed by the gods. He is naive and seems like a school boy in a man's body. When he makes a speech to raise the morale and stiffen the resolve of his army it isn't convincing. One soldier shouts, 'Who are you to lead us?' A good question! The response, 'I'm an ordinary Joe like you' didn't inspire much confidence.

At the same time as this human conflict is being acted out to it's predictable conclusion, complete with references to future conflict, in case this makes money and a sequel is needed, a conflict also rages in the heavens. The Olympians led by Zeus intervene once Hyperion unleashes the Titans. Keats' poem Hyperion has a wonderful image of a Titan led on the beach, the poet is able to communicate the vast size of the Titan in just a few sentences. In this film, and with all this technology to hand, the Titans are presented as imps, moving at Benny Hill speeds, they seem an unlikely scourge. Zeus joins the battle and at this point the stylised fight scenes, with heads and bodies hacked and smashed, tip over into silliness and a memory of the Ninja Turtles came into mind.

But more disappointing than all this was the plot. The 300 was a much better film, despite it's right wing agenda and xenophobia, because it told a simple story well. Not so The Immortals; which is a shame because the Greek Myths contain eternal truths, wonderful metaphors and great events. The Immortals captures none of this. Even Troy was better!


  1. 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.

  2. I love this review. Strangely, I had not heard of this film. Where have I been? I still haven't seen a 3D film. You convinced me that I still don't have to rush anywhere to do this. I love your description of the Titans. Great that you brought Keats into the mix....thank you.