Friday, November 18, 2011

Immortals (Movie Review)

Freida Pinto, I'm afraid, is turning into a bit of a running joke within the English film reviewing community, given her incredible luck of working with acclaimed Hollywood filmmakers and then delivering extremely forgettable performances.

In Singh's Immortals, she gets the longest screen-time of her career as Phaedron, the virgin oracle who can predict the future as long as she remains 'undefiled' by man.

Her best moment in the film, however, is completely unintentional. As she tends to the wounded peasant warrior Theseus (Cavill), it's clear that a sex scene is in the offing.

Suddenly, within the blink of an eye, Pinto is underneath Cavill and talking about how she wants to be 'defiled' by him. Cut.

Emotions, dialogue and logic go out the window, and a number of us at the press screening collapsed into a fit of giggles at this jarring transition. No credit to Pinto; full credit to the Indian Censor Board and its ridiculous policies.

Singh, known for making visually stunning films like The Cell (2000) and The Fall (2006), helms this gorgeous looking disappointment (from the makers of 300, say the ads) which is let down by a wafer-thin storyline, poor characterisation and inconsistent acting.

Set in ancient Greece, it revolves around the evil King Hyperion (Rourke, one of the few actors who can make sadism look awesome) and his search for the legendary Epirus bow, with which he plans to destroy all of humanity.

This bow is the only weapon that can release the Titans, a mythical race of immortal beings that has been imprisoned by the Gods. Theseus, who has been unknowingly trained by the god king Zeus in mortal form (Hurt), is the chosen one to save humanity.

There is a stunning sequence towards the end, where the Gods clash against the Titans, juxtaposed against a fierce hand-battle between Theseus and Hyperion.

Singh's visual sensibilities come out all guns blazing here as body after body is poetically slashed open, and it is glorious to behold. After more than an hour of underwhelming battle scenes that aren't even a patch on 300, this scene is an admirable attempt at redemption.

Except it can't, especially when it's that late into the movie and your hero is no King Leonidas. Cavill tries hard, but he has neither the screen presence of Gerard Butler, nor a line of memorable dialogue to deliver. The other actors range from bad (Pinto, Evans as young Zeus) to serviceable (Dorff as the thief Stavros). Rourke delivers the only really enjoyable performance here.

Much of the movie is uninteresting, with a few set pieces proving to be of brief interest. Immortals looks gorgeous for the most part (barring a couple of sequences where the CGI looks less-than-impressive), but what it lacks is cohesiveness and style. Singh may reputedly be a visual genius, but he's no Zack Snyder.