Now that I’ve had some time to reflect upon this movie, and align my thoughts through writing about it, I have to admit that the charm has worn off. Basically, the film is a mostly garbled account of Theseus finding the Epurian Bow, becoming a believer of the gods and eventually one of them after defeating the very evil Betty. Hyperion. Whatever. He had all the depth of a teaspoon. (I won’t even go near how this as far removed from actual Greek mythology as possible.)
The 300 influence is made very clear in the highly stylised settings, colour and fight choreograpy. Visually, the film is astounding, all credit being due where it is. The fabrics were lucious and the sets hugely detailed. I thought the gods were slightly pornographic in the Xerxes sense, what with gold being the pimp’s metal, but they were awesomely strong. For once, there was the sense of unbridled power that gods should have. Athena’s fighting style was especially sharp and fluid and the final fight between the gods and Titans was superbly handled. (It was also stomach-churning, like the rest of the movie.)
But its not enough to save a movie. Personally, I was annoyed by the whole “he was an unbeliever, but now look how awesome he is now that he believes in the gods, Chosen One, weeoo-weeoo”. Yes, I know, that stems from my own personal ideology rather than the movie itself, but it does grate a bit. It looks like easy evangelism. Now, I’ve said before that I love action movies but this one was just a bit much. Of course, no one expects action movies to be art, and I wasn’t expecting much. And yet, there are some fundamental problems with this movie that made it taste a little bitter. Let’s go through the tropes here.
There’s the typical woman stuffed in the fridge; the main character’s mother is slain before him, and all we know about her is that she was religious and was raped once by villagers. (I don’t think she was even given a name.) Later on, she becomes a Lost Lenore, in which her corpse proves useful. Its never really made clear what happened to disappeared Dad. This gives him the Orphan Power-up as well as turning him into a Convenient Orphan. He is also the dutiful son, as well as being the last of his kind AND the sole survivor. There’s the gross sidekick/follow-along guy, the Wannabe Casanova who says the kind of shit that suggests a punch is not enough, making him a straw misogynist. There’s the Noble Virgin (as you can imagine, that doesn’t last long because Nature abhors a virgin) who is also the champion and living MacGuffin. And, of course, the fake virgins just weren’t as pretty.
And its almost like the producers (who made 300) thought no one would notice if they recycled a few things. Gratuitous torture (amped up to 11 in this movie), virgins in lovely flowing dresses, action scenes shot like a scrolling platform game, gods dressed in gold, soldiers with ridiculously impractical cloaks and rousing speeches from underdogs, all done in the same copper tones. Isn’t it directors who should stamp their style like that?
Sometimes, a movie is worth it for the visuals alone. But the writing is so bad and the plot is so thin that it couldn’t be seen without Sherlock’s microscope, that its better just to watch the action scenes on Youtube. Even some of the fights were a bit stilted; I don’t know why the running looked like a sped-up shuffle.
And I so badly wanted this movie to be better. Greek mythology is rich and all that effort spent on visuals should have given me something less trite. But there’s always going to be the Ultra White Masculine Hero, the women basically stepping stones to his glory. Even Athena gets her ass handed to her. At least in 300 Queen Gorgo was given a beautiful speech and got to kick some ass by stabbing the disgusting rapist. Its something. It is sad that we have to reach so hard for a female protagonist these days. I think Salt is one of the few movies where the female protagonist fights on her own the entire way without a man stepping in (a la Kick Ass.) And at least Kill Bill offered up some decent female fighters without the ultra sexing up that usually attends such characters, like Sucker Punch did. I mean, are panty shots necessary in an action sequence?
So, I guess Immortals is great for those who enjoy gratuitous torture. Like Saw, really. But if Se7en was your pace, then this is just going prove that violence for its own sake will always be tacky.