Heroes vs. Demigods

Posted: November 23, 2011 in Heroes, Monsters/Villains, Stories
Tags: , , ,

Despite the poster, not that necessary to experience in 3D.

This past weekend I caught The Immortals. Here’s my 2 minute review. 

The Good

I was drawn to the movie because I’ve loved the director—also of The Fall, and for his visuals in The Cell. The visuals here are no less impressive. Theseus’ Greek village on the side of a cliff was like some ancient version of Santorini. 

Plus, Mickey Rourke played the hell out of a fairly one-dimensional villain. He made that role, chewing fruits and nuts instead of the scenery, but to much the same effect. A villain who castrates a new recruit with a giant crocket mallet, and locks his prisoners inside a brazen bull makes for a memorably awful opponent to root against. 

The Bad

The story was tepid. Mickey Rourke’s King Hyperion wants a magic bow to release the titans, because they have the power to kill the gods, or something. He doesn’t like the gods because they didn’t save his family, or something. (Just as petulantly, another character doesn’t care much for the gods after he prayed for a horse and didn’t get one. Curse you, gods!) Straightforward enough, I suppose, but in execution there just wasn’t much energy behind this story to invest me into it emotionally. 

And for a movie about Greek mythology, it would’ve been great to have had some, you know, mythological elements to it (aside from some tweeny-looking gods). Not that they had to recreate Clash of the Titans, but for a movie with such gorgeous visuals, not more fully exploring the mythos felt like a serious lacking. I liked their version of Theseus defeating the minotaur, but what else might they have done? Likewise, not that they had to create a mythological version of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (though that would be awesome), but why not use other heroes to populate Theseus’s party instead of nameless characters made up for the movie? 

Same with the gods and the titans. Just because they can fight faster than normal mortals does not make them more compelling. These are the gods! Show off what else they can do besides simply fight in “bullet time”. 

The Ugly

These are ticky-tack complaints, but they pulled me out of the movie. 

First, in the scene with Theseus rallying the troops (which I’ll get to a moment), the troops are shown clashing their swords against shields. One troop, quite visible in the front, has clashed the metallic facing right off his plastic shield. It looked ridiculous. 

Second, in a scene with Theseus recovering from a fight, he lies on the ground and peels off his armor. Except the armor doesn’t fall away like the metal breastplate it’s supposed to be, it literally peels off like the rubberized costume it actually is. 

Again, minor stuff, but silly. 

And Finally

One of my pet peeves in movies are those scenes where the hero rallies the troops. I don’t find them motivating. I find them gratuitous to the point of embarrassing; and in many cases, the troops have never met the hero in the first place. Why would they ever listen to this guy? 

Braveheart had this pivotal scene, with Mel Gibson rallying the troops to fight for their freedom. Of course, that was a key point to the entire movie. Since then, however, far, far too many movies have tried their own version of this scene, whether just aping Braveheart and/or playing up the fight for “freedom” in a post 9/11 world. (Star Wars Episode III even mirrored the “you’re either with us or against us” language of the time, albeit said by a rapidly emerging Darth Vader). 

I find it a cheap grab for audience loyalty, and I’ve never cared for it. One point I will make about The Immortals, though. While they did include this scene, instead of fighting for freedom, Theseus implored the troops to fight for honor. That at least made better sense to me in a historical context.

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Comments
  1. CMrok93 says:

    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.

  2. […] The Immortals, Theseus is a fairly chaste figure. He cares for his mother until she’s killed (which drives his […]

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