Tuesday
Apr172012

Immortals

It has been quite a long time since I've thrown an Orville Redenbacher in the microwave, drained my brain pan of its excess oil, and cued up a disk of pure popcorn entertainment like Tarsem Singh's Immortals. Of course, there has been a very good reason for that. This type of mindless escapism, once aimed at a much broader audience, has become nothing more than a CGI-clogged, illiterate, visual masturbation frenzy for the gamer set.

It has no place in the cinema of epic adventure.

As a friend of Simone's so ably put it, "If you want that kind of spectacle, go to the fucking circus."

Or stay in your parent's basement and stream Thai martial arts movies and Korean amputee porn until your puny dick falls off.

For all of Singh's noteworthy visuals (and there's not even many of those in a film that looks like the cutting room floor of every Lord of the Rings movie combined), Immortals lacks any sort of cohesive storyline, strong characters, or the blatant homoeroticism that made 300 so pruriently fascinating. If you want a perfect example of how something as promising as the technological advancements in filmmaking made in the last thirty years can be turned into absolute reeking bullshit; look no further than Immortals. It's as if the cure for cancer had been discovered but the doctors will only use it to treat rickets.

This is certainly the biggest problem with these new epics -- the crutch-like reliance the filmmakers have on CGI effects at the cost of plot or decent dialogue. Hell, I'll even take campy dialogue at this point. We see the same scenes over and over again – waves upon waves of semi-human creatures in a motley array of menacing armor and helmets amassing in front of large stone fortresses built into the side of mountains getting slaughtered wholesale in stop-motion/slow-motion battle sequences where no one can tell who the fuck is who or what the fuck is what. In between, there is corny banter which establishes nothing but the traits of the characters one has already gleaned from the tiresome exposition in their introductory scenes. Pepper in a scene of the hero having to fight a particularly large member of the aforementioned horde (who'll have an even more menacing helmet!), a female love interest culled typically from the gene pool of a wary ally (often a she-warrior or enchantress), and a final confrontation with the leader of "Teh Evil" (drawn out to at least a ten minute fight scene) and you have yourself a contemporary CGI epic sure to please the twelve-year-olds who somehow snuck into the theater without a guardian.

Immortals rarely strays from this focus-group path.

I had read a good amount of Greek mythology in my youth, so the film's storyline (playing wildly with Zeus and the gang) was as confusing as Oedipus' bath time at Jocasta's place.

In brief:

The peasant Theseus (played by Henry Cavill – the ridiculously handsome motherfucker from The Tudors -- last seen indirectly staining the sofas of dissatisfied Showtime-subscribing housewives everywhere) has been chosen by the Gods to wage battle against King Hyperion (played by Mickey Rourke – the ridiculously freakish motherfucker -- last seen actually staining some people's sofas and doing some real acting in The Wrestler). The King wishes to attain the Epirus Bow (a magical weapon) and enslave all of humanity. He storms some holy castle and kidnaps the virgin oracle (played by some woman who looks a lot like a very young Padma Lakshmi). In the ensuing chaos, there are many people impaled on spears in slow motion and flung harshly to the ground or into walls.

Theseus is enslaved during the struggle and sent to work in the salt fields. He also meets Stephen Dorff there. I'm not sure which hardship is greater for Theseus. It does, however, prove a theory I've been working on lately. That Stephen Dorff is so incapable an actor that he can actually be an annoying douchebag in any historical era. His lack of talent transcends the boundaries of time. Despite this, they band together with a few other expendables, rescue Padma Lakshmi, and return to Top Chef in time for the final vote Theseus' village in time for him to see his mother's throat get cut by Hyperion. There are many people impaled on spears in slow motion and flung harshly to the ground or into walls.

So inept is this band of merry rebels that the Gods watching from above begin to tamper in their quest. Yet Zeus forbids it! Fuck it, they do it anyway and get the gang out of some tough scrapes. There are many people impaled on spears in slow motion and flung harshly to the ground or into walls.

Theseus finds the magical bow while burying his mother and soon loses it to a hyena. Yeah, a hyena. He then fucks Padma Lakshmi, causing her to lose her gift of portent for she is no longer a virgin. They struggle back to the fortress of their wary allies (built into a mountain) and await Hyperion, who now possesses the Epirus Bow and is hell bent on destroying the reign of the Gods by releasing the Titans. There are many people impaled on spears in slow motion and flung harshly to the ground or into walls.

After one of the more outlandish confrontations ever committed to celluloid, Theseus slays Hyperion and Zeus commits to helping the poor humans by destroying the strangely simian Titans (in menacing helmets!) and bringing down the adjacent mountain on top of Hyperion's swarming throng. There are many people not impaled on spears but, rather, crushed by falling rock. It had to be thus.

After all, what sort of world would it be without benevolent Gods overseeing our fate or our fellow humans coming to our aid in times of great peril?

We just may find out if the Republicans gain control of the government again and pass Paul Ryan's budget.

Anyway, it's all Greek to me.

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