Immortals (2011) Review
This review is definitely behind schedule, but I have a good excuse: the movie was completely perplexing to me. I needed time to process it and understand the situation. Quite frankly, I still don’t understand why anyone would produce this schlock.
There’s a plot here somewhere (something about John Hurt being Zeus), but I quite frankly don’t think it remotely matters. The movie is really a series of cringe-worthy torture scenes and ridiculous action sequences strung together.
What seems to be emphasized in this film are the visuals. Unfortunately, this is like putting an empty picture frame on an entirely empty white wall: it highlights an enormous void.
There are plenty of films that work with little to no plot. The first part in the Kill Bill saga has almost no plot and is entirely made up of action, but the action and visuals are so interesting and entertaining that they make up for this lack of story. In Immortals, the visuals are entirely unfulfilling and depressingly boring.
The first thing I noticed when I fired up this movie was the fact that, as opposed to most action films, or, for that matter, most modern films in general, Immortals isn’t shot in the 2.35:1 (Anamorphic) aspect ratio, but the 1.85:1 aspect ratio of a typical high definition television. Though this seems like a stupid nitpick and it’s certainly not something I would complain about from a film made before 2000, it seems to be symptomatic of a larger problem with this film’s cinematography at large.
Immortals seems to have been filmed as if it were a prime-time broadcast television show, and this is definitely not a compliment. Every shot seems to have been carefully formed by some sort of unintelligent robot sitting in as the Director of Photography. Sorry, Mr. Galvin, but you appear to be shit at your job. Everything interesting is centered instead of put on a third line, the dialogue is filmed in confusing and convention-violating manner, and scenes when there is both water and land seem to always orient themselves in a certain direction so that the water is on the right. These weird visual quirks single-handedly seem to suck all interest out of the visuals.
There is a lot of interesting CGI and color correction work layered on top of this poor cinematography, but the old adage about polishing a turd comes to mind. Everything you do on top of this cinematography only highlights how painfully boring it is.
I haven’t even begun to talk about the action sequences, which seem to take up the vast majority of this film. Instead of simply showing us fighting, director Tarsem Singh seems to be obsessed with slowing down and speeding up the action as if he’s just playing back a video tape. This is not only annoying, but it actually makes some of the action nearly impossible to comprehend. These action sequences also seem to last forever. I can’t stand action sequences that are either poorly filmed and edited or self-indulgent, and these seem to be both.
To his credit, Henry Cavill seems to make it through this film with a straight face, which is better than I could do. If I were cast in this film, I would be laughing at Singh and the screenwriters all the way through.
My bottom line: if you want to see a movie about Greek people fighting, go watch 300. It sure isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than this.
I give Immortals a 1/5.