Sunday, January 29, 2012
MA$$ACRE: Immortals (2011)
It's relatively apparent from early on in the film that this material is hindered by its script. It's relentlessly talky in the first half, and filled with the same kind of overblown and essentially meaningless dialogue that serves only to move our heros from point A to point B. Thesus is essentially a non-character. He's a hero placeholder to drive the story along, utterly without personality traits other than say, bravery or something. The foils do little to flesh him out, and are there only so that dialogue can flow. Rourke as Hyperion is one exception, but largely because in a pulpy movie without acting, overacting seems like a blessing.
The exceptions are the scenes involving the gods on Mount Olympus, which are shot in a hazy sort of unreality. In soft focus and with an unnatural illumination that seems to come from within, they almost appear to have walked out of a painting. And when they start fighting - wow. The battle sequences are the best parts of this film. Some might compare their use of slow-motion to 300, but I thought these were much more carefully edited. The slo-mo isn't used as punctuation for kill shots here, but as a weird sort of god-power; whenever a god hits a bad guy, the enemy immediately slows down so that they can be decapitated, sliced in half, pummeled to a pulp, or otherwise obliterated. It might not be the most judicious use of CGI, but I was willing to embrace it during the battles.
While I enjoyed this film, I can't deny the fact that it's incredibly faulty. The drag of the first half is only barely made up for by the explosive violence of the second half, and the film is never able to shed the trappings of its unremarkable dialogue or the uneven visual style. For any other director, this might be considered a failed experiment. Tarsem was unusual in that he sprung onto the scene with his style apparently completely formed, so here it feels as if he's diluted it somewhat. I'd speculate about where he intends to go in the future, but I don't need to. His next film is the Julia Roberts fairytale rehash Mirror Mirror, which looks to be truly atrocious. Hopefully this doesn't signify a trend for Tarsem, because there'd be nothing sadder than seeing his talent pissed away on family films and soulless big-budget action epics.
6 / 10 = Worth a look