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!

Going apeshit for Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Best. Photoshop. Ever.

I’m officially based out of San Diego now and Saturday morning I started the daunting task of unpacking everything I own.  Which is a lot of crap.  Ugh.  But it’s awesome crap that I’m not willing to throw or give away so whatever.  Thanks to my OCD and my constant pursuit of organizational perfection, it took me two days just to unpack the kitchen.  As my friend Kate puts it, “I wish someone would give me a friggin’ chill pill.”  After all that hard work I decided that I needed a reward (and a break) so I stumbled over to the movie theatre for some primate prequel goodness.

I try to be good but y’all know I give stuff away sometimes so here is my customary SPOILER ALERT!

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect from Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  The previews looked pretty good, if a little obviously CGI, and the music sounded fantastic…but hey, it’s the trailer, it’s all the best parts, right?

Well, let me tell you, it was actually super good. Like, amazingly good.  Like, at least 10x better than I thought it was going to be.  As a Navy family, we were stationed in Marin County when I was a kid and I went back to attend college in San Francisco.  The movie takes place in and around the Bay Area and it definitely made me nostalgic for the fog and the giant redwoods.  Hiking and hunting for Ewoks in Muir Woods has always been one of my favorite pastimes so I was thrilled to see so much of them in the movie.

But first things first.  Freida Pinto is seriously the most gorgeous woman ever.  It’s a little ridiculous how hot she is.  And she has one of those faces that scream “kindness” so she’s totally believable as a vet at the San Francisco Zoo.  Oh, and did I mention that she’s beautiful?

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s move on to James Franco as Will Rodman, a genetic engineer who has formulated the cure for Alzheimer’s.  Not because he wants to help humanity per se, although that’s certainly a positive side effect, but because his Father (John Lithgow) has the disease and he’s a total daddy’s boy.  After his presentation to the board goes bust and the human trials get canceled, Will goes so far as to smuggle some of the drug, ALZ-112, out of the lab in order to experiment on his own Dad.  It works brilliantly at first but it’s virus-based and eventually the antibodies grow strong enough to negate the benefits of the treatment.  Bummer.  Back to the drawing board.  About 2 movie days later (or the equivalent of 10 years in the real world) Will comes up with ALZ-113, a new virus that must be inhaled instead of injected….seriously…never a good sign when something is airborne.  I don’t want to give away what happens next for those who haven’t seen it but let’s just say that I’m very happy that zombies weren’t the result.  I was worried for a while there.

Poor Andy Serkis.  The guy has been typecast as the king of non-human CGI critters (Gollum, King Kong, etc).  Half the time as an ape!  But really, it’s because he’s brilliant.  And he is.  I just wish he’d get thrown some more roles that didn’t involve him wearing a leotard with a bunch of blinking lights attached to it.  He brings amazing life to the chimpanzee Caesar. I don’t know if the special effects peeps can measure (or follow or whatever) what his eyes do but I’m thinking that they can.  Caesar’s eyes were much too expressive to be completely manufactured.  The CGI, by the by, was way better than the trailer made it out to be.  In the very first scene of the movie I actually had a hard time figuring out if the chimps looking around were real or fake.  With a name like Caesar there’s got to be some kind of sequel to the prequel.  That name comes with a dramatic downfall attached to it thankyouverymuch.

The “bad guys” of the movie are another father-son duo, John Landon (the ageless Brian Cox…seriously, he looks the same as he did 20 years ago, I swear) and his son Dodge (Draco Malf…I mean…Tom Felton).  Together they run the San Bruno Primate “Sanctuary”.  Now, not to go all PETA on y’all but it WAS hard to watch the apes (CGI or no) getting mistreated and experimented on.  Unlike some people, I don’t believe the
people behind the movie had any kind of political or animal rights agenda but I can see how it could be misconstrued that way.  You’d have to be pretty heartless to not feel something when an animal is in pain.  Humans on the other hand, well, whatever, who cares.  I’ve been desensitized to violence against people since I was a kid.

With a nephew this cute I had to get him in here somehow

So it wasn’t as hard to witness Dodge’s fate as it was to witness Buck’s, the big silverback gorilla.  One thing Draco…I mean Dodge….does get is the iconic line from the original Planet of the Apes.  I’ll give you a hint, it involves the adjectives “stinking” and “dirty.”   I was also anxious to see the launch of Icarus and the loss of the three astronauts on board.  Speaking of which, Charlton Heston isn’t completely absent, a clip from The Agony and the Ecstasy shows briefly on the break room television inside SBPS.  Need a new drinking game?  Every time you find a primate (or human) with a name paying homage to someone from the 1968 film, take a shot or chug a beer.  You’ll be buzzed in no time.  I spotted several but I’m not going to tell you what they are so that you can have fun finding them yourselves.

I’m evil like that.

Four out of Five Sci-Fives!

Four out of Five Sci-Five's