Hardly a news item, but I’m pressing on nonetheless.
Last night we watched Immortals, a movie we found on DVD at the library. Mickey Rourke was the only “big” name actor, and the cover was interesting; it seemed worth a try. I haven’t torn apart a movie on my blog in a while (it really makes me want to be a film critic, regretting all other career choices), but Immortals was so bad I’m willing to go there again.
Immortals appears to be an Indian movie; the director, most of the producers, and much of the cast and crew are Indian. But most of the speaking actors are British, with the exception of Mickey Rourke and the traitor he turns into an eunuch; these two are American. Mickey Rourke plays King Hyperion, the insane and ruthlessly cruel tyrant in search of the Emperor’s Bow, a mythical weapon. King Hyperion is pretty much just Harley Davidson wearing bunny-ears (an unfortunate helmet). Mickey painfully resurrected his 80’s self for Immortals, despite the passage of several decades. I like Mickey Rourke, I do—Rumblefish is one of my favorite movies of the eighties. But he is badly miscast here; he changes neither expression nor intonation, ever, and is unable to inspire the sort of fear that the part (and plot) requires to be believable. He walks around with pomegranate seeds stuck to his beard, a bumbling old stoner (if you haven’t seen Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, I highly recommend it for your next cheesefest), when he’s supposed to be the most powerful, fearsome man alive.
I can accept suspension of disbelief in a myth movie—provided they get the myth right, and Immortals does not. Theseus, the male protagonist, is one of the great Athenian heroes, responsible for unifying ancient Greece and taking down dozens of local ogres and bad guys. He never fought King Hyperion, though; to make the two meet, the screenwriter just smashed the two stories together. Add some cool special effects, and the average viewer forgets that the lead characters lived a hundred years apart (would the average viewer even know that?). Theseus slew the Minotaur, the monster that lived in the labyrinth; the costume designer made a bunch of bull heads for King Hyperion and his army, and thus was Greek mythology peed upon. And as for the special effects; well, sure, there was some good eye candy, but the great majority of this movie is real physical violence. People being castrated, maimed, mauled, slit at the throat, punched, stabbed, raped, roasted alive in bull statues, et cetera. A lot of the worst shots are of women being horribly assaulted and killed; it was like the director tried to create a hell realm, and it was revolting. The bloodiest, most British ancient Greece I’ve seen. Really wish I could un-see the whole mess, actually.
Now add all that to Mickey Rourke’s abysmal performance, a lackluster Theseus, and five Olympians dressed for the World figure skating championships. To highlight their divinity and great abs, the Greek gods wear golden thongs on Mt. Olympus, then suit up for battle with the Titans in shining spandex with little cheerleader skirts, Magneto helmets, and gold booties. Mars, who’s supposed to be the most badass god in wartime, wears a giant rooster helmet, something like an Easter egg covered with broom handles. Zeus is a mediocre actor, an unimpressive god, and a lousy father to his immortal kids; Poseidon’s trident looked like a prop from my fifth grade dance recital. Oh, such a bad movie: it’s like the producers blew their entire budget on digital effects and Mickey Rourke. Costumes, plot, continuity—all were thrown by the wayside.
And so, save your time (as this movie is available in libraries and probably pirate sites on the internet, you could watch it for free: but don’t) and look for an epic movie that at least tries to honor Greek mythology (Wrath of the Titans, a recent epic also starring a bunch of Brits, is a good choice). And there, that’s it, my two thumbs down review; my next post will be positive, promise.