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Review: Ex Machina

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Review: Pitch Perfect 2

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Review: Immortals

Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of "300," "Gladiator," the original "Clash of the Titans," and most other films (not named "Troy") in this genre that are loosely based on Greek and Roman history/mythology.   With that being said, after watching “Immortals” I have to say that I am incredibly lukewarm about this film.  It has taken me a while to put my finger on why this narrative failed to entertain me, but at the end of the day I think the reasons are three-fold: the visuals, the scope, and the cast (in other words – everything).

It is always a delicate visual balance when a film crosses over between heaven and earth but there are films that have pulled this off – most recently Thor.  However, in “Immortals” things immediately go awry by outfitting the Olympians and Titans in garb that can best be described as a mashup of a Calvin Klein commercial (circa 1990) and J-Lo's The Cell.  Needless to say, this look does not exactly lend itself to the strength and majesty one typically associate with the Greek pantheon.  My disappoint is not confined to Mount Olympus as I found Mickey Rourke’s helmet of choice to be the spitting image of a giant lobster claw.  I half expected to see an all-you-can-shrimp Red Lobster commercial in the credits.  My guess here is that this film will not be up for the Best Costume Design.

Another major flaw in the film was its scope.  On the one hand, the story of Theseus' story is probably not the richest of those in the cannon, but there is enough there to piece together a compelling plot.  After all, most films in this genre (and the myths themselves) are loosely based on their respective source materials.  Still, for a plot that features the Olympians, the Titans, as well as Hyperion and his army, the action of the film seems terribly confined to a few sets that are meager in their spacing.  Sorely lacking is the sense of space and grandeur that have existed to keep these principles apart until the moment the plot unfolds. 

As for the cast, I was particularly interested in watching Henry Cavill’s performance as Theseus to see if it might lend some insight as to how he will perform in Zack Snyder’s The Man of Steel.  My assessment is that he was just good enough not to stink and may have performed better had he been surrounded by a different cast.  One of the major problems with the cast is Mickey Rourke as Hyperion.  He brings very little depth to the character and as Rourke continues his post-Wrestler cash grab, he is venturing dangerously close to caricature-ville (a place currently inhabited by Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro).  As for the rest of the culprits, Stephen Dorff – an actor whose best work was when he was Punk’d by Ashton Kutcher - is completely miscast and utterly useless as Stavros and Freida Pinto delivers her second non-descript performance (see Rise of the Planet of the Apes).

So with all these problems, I would say that this movie is a rental all the way.  There are graphic action sequences reminiscent of 300 and visually appealing people trying to save the world from peril, which should give you just enough to leave you marginally entertained - so long as it is at the right price.