First, hey, filmmakers? Would it really kill you for once to stop loosely basing your original stories on Greek myth and start faithfully following it instead? Because if you actually don’t know how to do adapt it in the right way, then I’d rather you not do it at all. (I’ll get off my high Greek myth geek horse in a minute, but allow me a few more minutes to feel indignant over the whole thing, OK?)
Second, did I see Immortals or was that 300? (Actually, you know what, maybe Immortals is the baby of 300 and The Fall.)
Seriously speaking, though, it wasn’t a bad movie. It’s actually one of the most visually stunning – and incredibly violent, as well as literally ball-busting – movies I’ve seen this year, if not the most. But the story was kind of ‘out there’ in the sense that, well, it didn’t make a lot of sense. The writing was too ambitious. It incorporated an essentially original plot and snippets of the legends and they didn’t quite mix well together. I kind of got the feeling that Tarsem Singh forgot to tell the story while he was trying to come up with the gorgeous visuals. This imbalance made watching the movie quite awkward at times.
Acting-wise, I’m baffled by Freida Pinto’s blandness. Her Phaedra is not at all like the Phaedra I had in my head (well, there goes the inner Greek myth geek again) and she had no chemistry whatsoever with Henry Cavill as Theseus. Cavill had more chemistry with Stephen Dorff, in fact, and I say that not (only) because this is a Greek story. I have no complaints about Cavill, though. He is a fine looking man who’s capable of showing plenty of nuances in his acting. I have high hopes for him in the future… I just hope his career doesn’t tank after he plays Man Of Steel!
Besides Cavill and his magnificent body, another thing that I liked, which is not exactly something they got right, is how the gods are portrayed: youthful, golden and majestic. I had a moment of “wait, who are these people supposed to be?” when they first appeared, as it wasn’t immediately apparent who was which god (and Heracles has somehow made it into the ranks of the gods), but I like the idea of the gods retaining their youth and beauty because, hey, they’re gods! They can look like whatever they want. Isabel Lucas was too blonde for Athena (she was pretty but she didn’t look intelligent at all) and therefore was unconvincing but Luke Evans as Zeus and Kellan Lutz as Poseidon were captivating.
Luckily for Tarsem Singh, he got one thing right and this was the most important thing in the legends of Theseus: the Minotaur fight. I don’t think The Minotaur was a man with the head of a bull like the ones you see in Narnia but close enough. He (it?) was positively frightening that I watched the scene through my fingers. It was one of the best sequences in the movie – brutal, visceral, intense and packed with action. It adhered to the original legend of the death of the Minotaur and is an example of excellent filmmaking.
The rest, however, was severely lacking in sensible on-screen interpretation. I’m not going to list them all because there are so many of them, although in general they did better than Clash Of The Titans last year in presenting a Greek myth-based story. Their saving grace was Tarsem’s flair for drama that’s possibly even grander than Zack Snyder’s because, despite the eyebrow-raising story, I can’t help but still be entertained by the visuals.
I have no desire to watch it again (too much blood and gore for my taste) but if this movie showed up on my cable TV station next year at the same time as Clash Of The Titans, I’d pick this movie over and over again. In fact, it is my fervent wish that Immortals engage COTT to an epic battle of the cinema gods and rip COTT into shreds. But at the end of the day, I’d rather be hanging out with Percy Jackson until someone can finally make a Greek myth movie that satisfies my inner geek.