Thursday, March 15, 2012

Immortals Blu-ray Review

Reviewed by Jami Ferguson
From the producers of 300, Mark Canton, Gianni Nunnari, and Relativity’s CEO Ryan Kavanaugh, Immortals explodes off the screen with action-packed battles, mythological adventure and an all-star cast including: Henry Cavill (Superman: Man of Steel), Luke Evans (Robin Hood), Kellan Lutz (Twilight), Isabel Lucas (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire), Stephen Dorff (Public Enemies), John Hurt (Hellboy) and Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2). In this epic tale of vengeance and destiny, power-mad King Hyperion (Rourke) threatens to destroy all of humanity on his maniacal quest to obtain the ultimate weapon – the legendary Epirus Bow that gives the power to unleash war on both Heaven and Earth.  But Theseus (Cavill), a heroic young villager chosen by the gods, rises up to stop Hyperion’s brutal rampage.  With supernatural help from the beautiful oracle Phaedra (Pinto), Theseus embraces his destiny and leads a fierce band of warriors in a desperate fight for the future of mankind.

Film (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Immortals begins with a bunch of guys stuck in a box. It’s a really weird and creepy beginning and it's not exactly clear what’s going on. Fortunately there's some narration to clear things up that states that before man or beast, the immortals waged war upon one another.  The victors of the war are the Gods and the vanquished are the Titans who are now imprisoned beneath Mount Tartarus. Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who happens to be a mortal, is searching for a weapon called the Epirus Bow, which he plans to use to release the Titans from their imprisonment. Hyperion is angry with the Gods after they failed to save his family, and he captures the Virgin Oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) to help him find the bow.

Hyperion’s army threatens a nearby village where bastard peasant Theseus (Henry Cavill) and his mother are preparing to flee with the other villagers.  Theseus is told that he and his mother must wait to travel with the undesirables the next day and Theseus gets the chance to show he is a skilled and capable fighter.  Theseus was trained by an old man (John Hurt) who has never revealed to Theseus that he is actually Zeus.  The Gods are technically forbidden from interfering in the affairs of men, unless the Titans are released. The punishment for getting involved is death, and Zeus has not revealed his true identity (as played by Luke Evans).  He's been content to only watched and influence Theseus as his mentor and friend, in the form of an old man.

Hyperion attacks the village and Theseus’ mother is killed and he is captured and enslaved with the thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff) and the Oracle Phaedra.  When Pheadra has a vision of the future that involves Theseus, she conspires with Stavros and the faux Oracles to ensure his release.  Theseus then pursues Hyperion and is later saved by Poseidon who falls in the ocean causing a great wave. Thanks to some insight from Phaedra, Theseus finds the bow as he buries his mother, but he's attacked by Hyperion's beast and poisoned.  

Theseus is still able to save his friends and Phaedra tends to him and it's not long before the virgin Oracle, is just the Oracle and her loss of virginity means loss of useful visions. Stavros and Theseus are ambushed at Phaedra’s temple and Ares intervenes. Zeus immediately executes Ares for disobeying. Zeus tells Theseus that they will receive no more assistance from the gods. The bow is then brought to Hyperion and Theseus, Stavros, and Phaedra, travel to Tartarus. When the Titans are ultimately released, Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Heracles and Apollo arrive ready for battle while Theseus has his own battle with Hyperion.  The gods are more powerful than the Titans but the titans outnumber the gods so it's a fairly climactic fight to the finish.

If Greek Mythology is something you are interested in, the details of this movie have to drive you nuts. I think the filmmakers took their favorite bits of mythology and just mashed them all together. I could picture a Greek Mythology class tearing this movie apart based on its accuracy. At best, they have over simplified very complex stories. Having the Gods be extremely young, with rock hard bodies, walking around half naked in gold “outfits” is another thing I can see critics tearing apart.

One of my friends asked me repeatedly to see Immortals during its theatrical run in the theaters and I always steered her towards other movies because I thought it looked a lot like 300 and I'm also not a fan of Mickey Rourke.  I was thinking of Immortals as a Mickey Rourke vehicle but I should have been thinking of Immortals as a Henry Cavill movie. Even more specifically, Immortals starring Henry Cavill’s abs…now there is a two hour movie I could easily sit through time and time again regardless of the plot!  How many sit ups did that man do for this movie?  I 'm glad there wasn't a special feature on this disc that told me that he’s really a couch potato with computer generated abs because that would've been highly disappointing.

This is an unusual movie because while I don’t think it was a great story or even a great movie,  it still was interesting to watch just because of its visual story-telling. It found the movie to be very compelling and it held my attention because of its ambitious visuals. The textures were so rich and the colors so vivid that I didn't really mind the lack of a decent plot. While the mythology was oversimplified, the plot was over-complicated and the movie did remind me of 300 a little too often.  I think it’s fair to say it wasn't a great movie, but it looked pretty cool and had some intense fight sequences.  You can tell the actors trained hard to pull their stunts off, especially Henry Cavill.  The end fight with the Gods and the Titans was all CGI and the Titans were getting torn apart, but I still liked it because the way it was done was very unique. 

Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Immortals is very interesting visually.  The fabric colors and textures appear to pop off the screen at some points and the duller grays almost draw you in.  Black levels are suitably dark and solid and skin tones are natural and consistent.  The level of detail visible on the actors’ faces from facial hair to tiny imperfections in the skin shows you what a crisp transfer this is.  The digitally created environments meld seamlessly with the natural ones and Immortals is a visually stunning film with a very fine transfer.

Audio (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Immortals is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and with all the swords clashing you can crank up your sound system and really become immersed in the fighting.  You get what you’d expect with the epic battles, but I was also impressed with the sounds of nature – the rainfall and the ocean waves breaking.  Front, rear, side channels, and subwoofer all get a turn being showcased in the well balanced audio track.  Dialogue is a little low but at the times, I thought the dialogue was pretty irrelevant. 

Special Features (3 1/2 out of 5 stars)
The special features are sufficient in quantity and of good quality overall.  They all stroke the director’s ego more than I would have liked…but I guess most features do that.
  • It's No Myth - Mythology scholars give a brief overview of Greek myth.
  • Caravaggio Meets Fight Club - Tarsem's Vision A making-of featurette about the director’s vision on the Greek myths, special effects, stunts, and the score. 
  • Alternate Opening - Young Theseus An eleven minute opening that features a young Theseus proclaiming his disbelief in the gods, and gaining a mentor in John Hurt’s character. 
  • Alternate Ending - This is Our Last Embrace Hyperion’s more drawn out death scene with more of the battle's after effects.
  • Alternate Ending - Theseus Kills Hyperion An alternate view on Hyperion’s death.
  • Deleted Scenes Eight short deleted scenes.  I found the one where Poseidon tracks oil all over Mt. Olympus interesting. None of these needed to be added to the film, in my opinion.
  • Immortals: Gods and Heroes A short comic book with a few Greek myths. The text in the bubbles are so small that you can’t read them unless you stand in front of your television.
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Sneak Peeks 
Final Thoughts (4 out of 5 stars)
I realize that my final rating is a pretty high score for a film that I had mixed feelings about but despite the plot issues, I really liked the fighting and the look of the film.  It also didn't hurt having Henry Cavill run around without a shirt on so much.  Immortals is a film that I’m going to have to watch at least one more time before I finalize my feelings about it. Give it a chance and you might really enjoy it especially if you loved 300, cool special effects, or the sight of firm abs!

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