Immortals (sort of) Beloved

Here’s the thing.  Does this movie have a pretty basic plot?  Yes.  Is it full of pretty young people?  Yes.  Is it worth paying the $12 ticket price?  I think so.

I’ll admit that I liked Immortals much more than the two other people I attended it with and it’s probably because of the gratuitous violence and the over abundance of scantily clad men.  Very scrumptious scantily clad men.  (Don’t worry guys, you get to see Freida Pinto get nekked…well…sort of).  But even my companions had to admit that the film was gorgeous.  We saw it in 3D and even though it was filmed using 3D technology, it gave me a bit of a headache for some reason.  But I’m going to blame that on the theatre because I’m 99% sure one of the lights behind the screen was burned out which caused a strange shadowy hole in the bottom left hand corner of the screen.  I say this because the 3D was flawless otherwise.  Did it really need the 3D?  Probably not.  I can’t remember anything going towards the screen that would have made the 3D super obvious but it did add a richness to the gold and sepia tone that was so deftly used by director Tarsem Singh.  The plot was simple but it kept me interested throughout and I credit that to four actors: Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Mickey Rourke and the Luke Evans/John Hurt combo.  Uhh…so I guess that’s technically 5 actors playing 4 characters.

I fell madly in love with Henry Cavill when he played Charles Brandon in HBO’s The Tudors.  I mean seriously.  He’s ridiculously good-looking.  And the fact that he’s the new Superman gives me hope that I’ll finally be able to wipe that horrid Bryan Singer version out of my mind for good.  But besides being fun to look at, Cavill can act and he shows a fearlessness that other pretty boys can’t or won’t tap into.  He was in fine form as Theseus, our noble hero.  His fight scenes were epic in all their slow-fast-slow-motion glory but aside from that he showed a kindness that was very endearing.  I’m excited to see more of him in the future.

I don’t know what rock I was hiding under but I had no idea going into the theatre that Stephen Dorff was in this film.  So when I saw him in the salt mines I almost choked on my bubblegum.  First of all, he doesn’t look a day older than he did in Blade which was over 13 years ago which was kind of strange but not surprising at the same time.  Second of all, this seemed like the most random casting decision to me.  Space Truckers and Blade aside, I will forever hold Dorff in my heart as the kid from The Power of One.  That said, I thoroughly enjoyed watching him run around and fight the good fight.  In the end he was probably my favorite character in the film.  Stavros the slave didn’t have a ton of lines but the ones he had he delivered with flair.  Plus, I’ve got a soft spot for loyal sidekicks so that probably has something to do with it too.

John Hurt is a legend, there’s no denying it.  Most youngins only really know him from Hellboy and Harry Potter which is too bad.  The man has 172 acting credits to his name.  That’s insane.  I knew exactly who the old man was the moment he popped up on screen.  Normally I would chock that up to my weird movie/TV psychic ability but I have the feeling that I wasn’t the only one in this case.  His conversion to his “normal” Zeus state was our first taste of the films special effects and it was lovely to see the cape swirl around and morph him from an old man into a young god.  I can’t say the same for Athena’s strange Mystique-statue-that-hugs-herself-transformation.  Luke Evans is making quite a career playing Greek gods (having also played Apollo in last year’s Clash of the Titans) and was by far the best actor of all the Olympians.  He’s not your run of the mill pretty boy, he has some character to his face and I found myself wishing that he was on screen more.  I look forward to seeing what he brings to The Raven.

I find myself constantly in awe of Mickey Rourke.  He does things I would never expect and steals every scene that he’s in.  I would be perfectly happy to hear him read the Dictionary because there’s something about his voice that is both comforting and disconcerting, like he’s dangerous but you desperately want to help him anyways.  Or maybe I just have an overactive imagination.  The point of all this is that, from an acting standpoint, he is the best reason to watch this film.  It’s like he doesn’t even have to try, he just IS.  Does that make sense to anyone else besides me?  He’s effortless as King Hyperion, a ruthless and bloodthirsty ruler who couldn’t save his own family so he wants to destroy everyone else’s.  I would go so far as to dub him the best villain of the year.  The one thing I didn’t like?  His bizarre lobster-claw bunny-ear helmet.  What the fuck were you thinking with that one Eiko Ishieko?!

Seriously. No, seriously.

Strangely, there seemed to be a lot of teenage vampires in this movie.  Kellan Lutz (Twilight) and Joseph Morgan (The Vampire Diaries) were fine but unremarkable as Poseidon and Lysander.  Lysander did have one particularly painful scene that even had me girding my loins.  Hey Lysander, wasn’t worth it dude, just FYI.  Daniel Sharman as Ares rounded out the male gods. At least, the ones that are named and recognizable. He’s really only notable for some whining and one brilliant head-smashing scene. 

Isabel Lucas (aka the hot chick who turns out to be a transformer and tries to kill Sam in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) is stunning as Athena, the goddess with daddy issues.  She really is gorgeous but she doesn’t quite seem badass enough to play the goddess of war.  Y’all know I love Freida Pinto, I think she’s beyond beautiful.  As Phaedra the focus was a little bit too much on her looks.  Her makeup was way too flawless, even after taking a shower.  I mean, come on, that mascara would be running down her face and she’d be looking like a big ol’ hot mess.  Makeup that doesn’t move is perfectly acceptable for a goddess but notsomuch for a mortal imho. Also, she has a vision of a body wrapped in a shroud that is never identified.  That was dumb. 

There was plenty of blood and gore to spare.  At one point a monk cut off his own tongue.  It was pretty awesome.  Being a total history nerd, I knew what the giant brazen bull was for but I couldn’t help but wonder if the rest of the audience knew, especially the girl sitting next to me who kept whipping out her phone to check her text messages.  I would have liked to have shown her in person what it was used for.  They didn’t reveal the inside until very late in the film and I could tell by the uncomfortable shifting of the people around me that I was correct in guessing that they hadn’t known.  They’ll probably never look at one of these the same way again. 

A different kind of torture

Speaking of bulls, the interpretation of the minotaur was brilliant.  One of the most inspired parts of the film for sure.  The battle scenes were AH-MAZING.  Especially the ones involving the Olympians.  The price of the movie ticket was worth it just to see them swirl and flip around making mince meat out of the Titans and vice versa.

My biggest tiff with the film is the same one I usually have, not being accurate to the stories on which they are based.  In this case pretty much everyone mortal is portrayed incorrectly.  Theseus is not a bastard rape baby, but was fathered by both King Aegeus and Poseidon, the brother of Zeus.  Yes, he was raised by his mother, but he always knew he was the child of a king and when he came of age he set out to claim his place as heir to the throne. He could have taken the easy way by sea (especially seeing as he was a joint child of Poseidon) but instead he chose to do things the hard way and travelled by land.  Thanks to his stubbornness and the trials that resulted from it, he is famous for defeating the guards of the 6 entrances to the underworld along the way thereby contributing to his legend.  And he had three sons by two wives, not just Acamas as the movie would have you believe.  Moving on to Phaedra.  Virgin oracle?  Not so much.  More of a wife with a wondering eye.  At one point she even fell in love with her step-son.  Yeesh.  She’s also Theseus’ second wife, not his first (that honor goes to the queen of the Amazons).  The choice to make Hyperion the Antagonist was an interesting one.  Almost nothing is known of Hyperion in Greek mythology other than the fact that he was a Titan (that’s right, he didn’t release them, he WAS one).  Lysander was a Spartan, not a Greek and while he was certainly a cunning politician, he was not a traitorous minion of an invading king.

Several of the Olympians are left out including Hera, Demeter, Aphrodite, Hades, Hermes, Hephaestus and Artemis.  However, Heracles is present which was kind of random. 

Heracles? wtf are you doing here?

According to the movie Ares is the creator of the Epirus Bow, the weapon everyone wants and the catalyst of the film; however, I’ve never heard of this weapon before.  I like the idea of it though.  As for the helmets worn by the Olympians….well…let’s just say that I feel kind of bad for Kellan Lutz.

Kellan quick! There's a bug on your head!

I’m a big fan of the 1981 version of Clash of the Titans and Immortals will not be replacing it as my go-to Greek mythology film.  However, I liked Immortals waaaay more than the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans, a lame remake that never should have been made.  Sorry Liam Neeson, not even you can top Laurence Olivier.

Three out of five sci-fives!

For Veterans Day 11-11-11

Can you identify all of these people?

Can you identify all of these people?

In my family Veterans Day is the most important day of the year, revered more than Halloween, Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Whereas Memorial Day is marked by a certain degree of sadness, Veterans Day is about celebration.  It’s about giving thanks to those among us who have answered the calling to serve their country.  I often mention my military pedigree and that’s because it’s what I’m most proud of.  Coming from a military family is not easy.  Telling your 5 year old that Dad isn’t going to be home for your birthday or for Christmas is heartbreaking.  My Dad missed out on a lot when my brother and I were growing up but we appreciated him so much when he was home.  Now that he’s retired I look back and remember those years with a great deal of pride, both in my father and our family unit.

For Veterans Day I thought it would be fun to look back at the military careers of some of the people who have contributed to the world of science fiction and fantasy.  I’ve got Veterans Day plans so most of the text is copied from Wikipedia and other websites.  Whenever possible I used pictures from their actual time in service.

If you’re going out today and you see a Vet, take a second to thank them.  They’ll probably get embarrassed but do it anyway, they need to feel the love sometimes.

00v/44/arve/g2514/009Don AdamsGet Smart

USMC

Adams enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1941 together with his twin-brother cousins, William and Robert Karvelas. The three were assigned to the Third Marines in Samoa until Adams was sent as a replacement to the Battle of Guadalcanal, where he was the only survivor of his platoon. His survival, despite his company’s near 90% fatality rate, was due to his contracting blackwater fever early in the campaign. He was evacuated and spent over a year in a Navy hospital in Wellington, New Zealand. After his recovery, he served as a Marine drill instructor in the United States.

cainemilitaryMichael CaineThe Swarm, Batman

British Army

From 1952, when he was called up to do his National Service, until 1954, he served in the British Army’s Royal Fusiliers, first at the BAOR HQ in Iserlohn, Germany and then on active service during the Korean War.

tonycurtismilitaryTony CurtisHoudini

US Navy

Curtis enlisted in the United States Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor and war was declared. After being inspired by Cary Grant’s role in Destination Tokyo and Tyrone Power in Crash Dive (1943), he joined the Pacific submarine force. Curtis served aboard a submarine tender, the USS Proteus until the end of the Second World War. On September 2, 1945, Curtis witnessed the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay from his ship’s signal bridge about a mile away.

doohan-militaryJames DoohanStar Trek

Royal Canadian Artillery, RCAF

At the beginning of the Second World War, Doohan joined the Royal Canadian Artillery. He was commissioned a lieutenant in the 13th Field Artillery Regiment of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division. Doohan went to England in 1940 for training. His first combat was the invasion of Normandy at Juno Beach on D-Day. Shooting two snipers, Doohan led his men to higher ground through a field of anti-tank mines, where they took defensive positions for the night. Crossing between command posts at 11:30 that night, Doohan was hit by six rounds fired from a Bren gun by a nervous Canadian sentry: four in his leg, one in the chest, and one through his right middle finger. The bullet to his chest was stopped by a silver cigarette case. His right middle finger had to be amputated, something he would conceal during his career as an actor.

duvallmilitaryRobert DuvallThe Twilight Zone, Phenomenon

US Army

Duvall was born in San Diego, California, the son of Mildred Virginia (née Hart), an amateur actress and relative of American Civil War General Robert E. Lee, and William Howard Duvall, a Virginia-born U.S. Navy admiral.  Duvall grew up in a military family, moving frequently from military base to military base, living for a time in Annapolis, Maryland, near the United States Naval Academy.  He served in the United States Army from 19 August 1953 to 20 August 1954, leaving as Private First Class. He was stationed at Camp Gordon (now known as Fort Gordon) in Georgia.

guinnessmilitaryAlec GuinnessStar Wars

Royal Navy

Guinness served in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in World War II, serving first as a seaman in 1941 and being commissioned the following year. He commanded a landing craft taking part in the invasion of Sicily and Elba and later ferried supplies to the Yugoslav partisans. He operated a British Royal Navy landing craft on D Day.


hackmanmilitaryGene HackmanSuperman

USMC

At 16, Hackman left home to join the U.S. Marine Corps, where he served four-and-a-half years as a field radio operator.

charlton-heston-3Charlton HestonPlanet of the Apes, The Omega Man

USAF

In 1944, Heston enlisted in the United States Army Air Forces (what became the Air Force). He served for two years as a radio operator and aerial gunner aboard a B-25 Mitchell stationed in the Alaskan Aleutian Islands with the Eleventh Air Force. He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. After his service and rise to fame, Heston was chosen as a narrator for highly classified Military and Department of Energy instructional films, particularly relating to nuclear weapons, and for six years Heston held the nation’s highest security clearance or Q clearance.

earljonesmilitaryJames Earl JonesStar Wars, Dr. Strangelove, Conan the Barbarian

US Army

With the war intensifying in Korea, Jones supposed he would be shipped off to the war as soon as he received his officer’s commission. Instead, he went home. As he waited for his orders to active duty, he found a part-time stage crew job at the Ramsdell Theatre in Manistee, Michigan, where he had performed before. By the end of summer 1953, Jones was commissioned as a second lieutenant, and was soon off to Fort Benning to attend Basic Infantry Officers School. While there, Jones went through Ranger School, graduated, and received his Ranger Tab (although he stated during an interview on the BBC’s The One Show screened on November 11, 2009 that he “washed out” of Ranger training). His first duty station was supposed to be at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, but his orders changed, and his unit was instead sent to Colorado where the Army planned to establish a cold weather training command at the old Camp Hale near Leadville, Colorado. His regiment was established as a training unit, to train in the bitter cold weather and the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. Jones eventually earned the rank of First Lieutenant.

keitelmilitaryHarvey KeitelFrom Dusk Till Dawn

USMC

At the age of sixteen, he decided to join the United States Marine Corps, a decision that took him to Lebanon, during Operation Blue Bat.

roddenberrymilitary2Gene RoddenberryStar Trek

USAF

Roddenberry developed an interest in aeronautical engineering and subsequently obtained a pilot’s license. In 1941, he joined the United States Army Air Corps, which in the same year became the United States Army Air Forces. He began training at Goodfellow Field (now Goodfellow Air Force Base) in San Angelo, Texas and graduated training in 1942, Class G. He flew combat missions in the Pacific Theatre with the “Bomber Barons” of the 394th Bomb Squadron, 5th Bombardment Wing of the Thirteenth Air Force and on August 2, 1943, Roddenberry was piloting a B-17E Flying Fortress named the “Yankee Doodle” from Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides when mechanical failure caused it to crash on take-off. In total, he flew eighty-nine missions for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal before leaving the Army Air Forces in 1945.

scottmilitary2George C. ScottThe Changeling, Dr. Strangelove

USMC

Scott joined the US Marines, serving from 1945 until 1949, and was assigned to the prestigious 8th and I Barracks in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, he served as a guard at Arlington National Cemetery and taught English literature and radio speaking/writing at the Marine Corps Institute.

stackmilitaryRobert StackUnsolved Mysteries

US Navy

During World War II, Stack served as a gunnery officer and instructor in the United States Navy for more than three years.

stantonmilitaryHarry Dean StantonAlien

US Navy

Stanton served in the Navy in World War II and was in the Battle of Okinawa.

stewartmilitary2Jimmy StewartRear Window, Vertigo

USAF

Stewart had a noted military career and was a World War II and Vietnam War veteran, who rose to the rank of Brigadier General in the United States Air Force Reserve. The Stewart family had deep military roots as both grandfathers had fought in the Civil War, and his father had served during both the Spanish-American War and World War I. Stewart considered his father to be the biggest influence on his life, so it was not surprising that, when another war eventually came, he too was eager to serve. Members of his family had previously been in the infantry, but Stewart chose to become a military flyer. in 1940, Stewart was drafted into the United States Army but was rejected for failing to meet height and weight requirements for new recruits—Stewart was five pounds (2.3 kg) under the standard. To get up to 148 pounds, he sought out the help of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s muscle man and trainer Don Loomis, who was noted for his ability to add or subtract pounds in his studio gymnasium. Stewart subsequently attempted to enlist in the Army Air Corps, but still came in under the weight requirement, although he persuaded the AAC enlistment officer to run new tests, this time passing the weigh-in, with the result that Stewart enlisted in the Army in March 1941. He became the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform in World War II. Stewart continued to play a role in the United States Air Force Reserve after the war, achieving the rank of Brigadier General on July 23, 1959. Stewart did not often talk of his wartime service, perhaps due to his desire to be seen as a regular soldier doing his duty instead of as a celebrity.

stonemilitary2strong>Oliver Stone – Conan the Barbarian (writer)

US Army

In September 1967, Stone enlisted in the United States Army, requesting combat duty in Vietnam. He fought with the 25th Infantry Division, then with the First Cavalry Division, earning a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart with an Oak Leaf Cluster before his discharge in 1968 after 15 months.

tolkienmilitaryJRR TolkienThe Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion

British Expeditionary Force

Tolkien joined the British Army in July 1915. He was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for eleven months. Tolkien was then transferred to the 11th (Service) Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving in France on 4 June 1916. Tolkien served as a signals officer at the Somme, participating in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge and the subsequent assault on the Schwaben Redoubt.

doeringmilitaryJames D. – Best Dad ever

US Navy

There are a lot of Veterans in my family going all the way back to the Civil War including my Grandfather, my Uncle and my Stepdad but the one who has made the most impact on me is my father.  Quite simply, he is my hero and that gives him celebrity status in my book.  He served during Vietnam and the Gulf War and was gone for large chunks of my childhood.  He always brought back gifts from exotic places that I’ll probably never travel to.  It was hard back then with no email and no skype.  Getting mail to and from a ship in the middle of the ocean means that you experience quite a bit of delay. I will never forget putting stickers on the calendar each day, counting down the days until he came back from Westpac.  My Dad is an incredible man and I’m extremely proud to be his daughter.  Happy Veterans Day Daddy 🙂

Navy brats at your service!

Navy brats at your service!