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UNIVERSAL

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Tarsem Singh
Cast:
Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones
Writing Credits:
Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides

Tagline:
The Gods Need a Hero.

Synopsis:
Immortals explodes off the screen with action-packed battles, mythological adventure and an all-star cast. In this epic tale of vengeance and destiny, power-mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) threatens to destroy all of humanity on his maniacal quest to obtain the ultimate weapon – the legendary Epirus Bow that gives the power to unleash war on both Heaven and Earth. But Theseus (Henry Cavill), a heroic young villager chosen by the gods, rises up to stop Hyperion's brutal rampage. With supernatural help from the beautiful oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), Theseus embraces his destiny and leads a fierce band of warriors in a desperate fight for the future of mankind.

Box Office:
Budget
$75 million.
Opening Weekend
$32.206 million on 3112 screens.
Domestic Gross
$216.310 million.

MPAA:
Rated R

DVD DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio:
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 110 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 3/6/2012

Bonus:
• “It’s No Myth” Featurette
• “Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision” Featurettes
• Alternate Opening
• Alternate Endings
• Deleted Scenes
Immortals: Gods and Heroes Graphic Novel
• Sneak Peeks and Trailer


PURCHASE @ AMAZON.COM

EQUIPMENT
Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.

RELATED REVIEWS


Immortals [Blu-Ray] (2011)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 5, 2012)

Does the tag line “From the Producers of Big Hit Movie” actually help sell tickets/DVDs/Blu-rays? I guess it must or no one would continue to do so, but it seems like a stretch. I can understand that the name of a prominent director or actor would move product, but simply mentioning that someone involved with Film A also had something to do with Film B doesn’t feel like a great way to entice me to see Film B.

In the case of 2011’s Immortals - which we learn comes from “the producers of 300” – I suspect the citation appears for a different reason: to stave off accusations of plagiarism. While not a total ripoff of 300, Immortals sure does a lot to remind one of the 2007 hit, and if we know that some of the folks involved with 300 also worked on Immortals, it may deflect some potential criticism.

Set in ancient Greece, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) seeks to use a powerful weapon called the Bow of Epirus. With it in tow, he can free mythical warriors called Titans and slay the gods – gods who he despises because he feels they ignored his pleas and let his wife and child die.

As Hyperion leads a bloody path toward his discovery, we learn of one possible hero who could halt him: a peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill). Though of common birth, Theseus received years of intense battle training from an old man (John Hurt) who we soon learn is the god Zeus (Luke Evans) in disguise. The virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) receives a vision that tells her Theseus is the sole savior of Greece, so she helps keep him alive and on target until he can thwart Hyperion’s efforts.

At the start of this review, I indicated the belief that Immortals would take a serious 300 path, and to a decent degree, it does. Both films share similar golden-tinted images much of the time and favor hyper-stylized action.

However, Immortals goes so far in its visual choices that it almost makes 300 look plain. Elsewhere on the Blu-ray, we’ll find reference to the Italian artist Caravaggio, and it seems plain that director Tarsem Singh Dhandwar – usually just known as “Tarsem” – used the painter’s moody, shadow-heavy work as a strong inspiration.

In a way, this is good, as it makes Immortals a remarkably attractive movie. It certainly offers a distinctive feel to the flick, as the effort put into dramatic images becomes clear from start to finish.

But does it help tell the story or does it turn into a case of style over substance? I think we get a bit of both. On one hand, the visuals offer more impact to the film; because it looks so intense, we tend to invest in the drama more than we otherwise might.

But on the other hand, the movie often does feel like it intends the visuals to do all the work. Actual story-telling seems secondary, as if after he set up the vivid images, Tarsem lacked the energy to bother to focus on the narrative or characters.

This means that despite the story’s inherent simplicity, it tends to lay flat on the screen. Action sequences have some zing, though like 300, they can emphasize flash too much; the film wants so much to be a thing of beauty – even if gory beauty – that it prefers the unreality of slow-motion and loving photography to the immediacy and power of a good fight scene. We’re often so conscious of the fact we’re watching a movie that we can’t invest much in the characters or battles.

While we find the 300-esque elements I mentioned earlier, Immortals usually comes across more like a much moodier version of Clash of the Titans. Both share obvious story/character similarities and impress as siblings. Sure, Immortals is less “family-friendly” and more obsessed with its stylistic choices, but the two have a lot in common.

When I compare the two, I think Immortals works better, mainly due to Tarsem’s sense of the visual. Even when the story falters, it remains tough to take your eyes off of the screen; it creates such a detailed, dynamic presentation that it can keep us with it. But that doesn’t make it a great – or even particularly good – movie. Immortals has real strengths but needs more meat to fill out its lovely bones.


The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B+/ Bonus C+

Immortals appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. Though usually excellent, some parts of the image disappointed.

My only concern related to blacks and shadows. Dark elements tended to be a bit inky, and low-light shots – of which we found many – were often quite tough to discern. While I got the impression this was a stylistic choice found in the original photography, it still created a distraction. Frankly, I got tired of attempting to figure out what was happening in all the murk.

Otherwise, this was a top-notch presentation. Sharpness always looked good. From start to finish, I thought the film appeared crisp and concise, with virtually no instances of softness to distract. The image lacked jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement appeared to be absent.

In terms of source flaws, the movie lacked any defects; it seemed clean and fresh. The majority of the film opted for a golden tint, though some rich reds also materialized. Within the film’s design, the hues looked solid. Without the muddy shadows and blacks, this would’ve been an “A” transfer, but those elements distracted too much for a grade above a “B”; probable director’s intent or not, a flawed image is a flawed image.

Immortals boasted a strong DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Though not a consistent assault on the senses, the soundscape opened up the material well. Action sequences provided the most zing, of course, as they broadened around the room and engulfed the viewer with various elements. Quieter scenes also showed nice breadth, and the music spread across the front in a satisfying manner.

Audio quality also was positive. With only a few metallic exceptions, speech remained natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. Music was dynamic and full, while effects seemed strong. Those elements produced good punch and lacked distortion. They seemed accurate and tight, and the movie featured excellent low-end response. This wasn’t a consistently killer track, but it was certainly worth of a “B+”.

When we head to the extras, we open with a featurette called It’s No Myth. It runs five minutes, 27 seconds and provides notes from Cal State University CWL and Classics Department lecturer J. Mark Sugars, Cal State Professor of Comparative Literature Dr. Nhora Lucia Serrano, director Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, UCLA Department of Classics lecturer Richard Rader and actors Kellan Lutz and Luke Evans. They discuss a lot of the characters and themes of Immortals and give us mythological background. Too many potential spoilers appear to make this something to watch if you’ve not yet seen the movie, but it’s nice to see afterward.

Under Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision, we find a collection of four featurettes. These occupy a total of 20 minutes, 29 seconds and include “Tarsem’s Vision”, “Visual Effects”, “Stunts” and “Creating the Score”. Across these, we hear from Tarsem, Lutz, Evans, writers Charles and Vlas Parlpanides, producers Gianni Nunnari, Ryan Kavanagh and Mark Canton, supervising art director Mark Manson, costume designer Eiko Ishioka, VFX producer Jack Geist, VFX supervisor Raymond Gieringer, director of photography Brendan Galvin, executive producers Tommy Turtle and Jeff G. Waxman, stunt coordinator Artie Malesci, composer Trevor Morris, and actors Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, and Stephen Dorff.

The pieces look at Tarsem’s take on the material and visual design, story/character topics, sets and visual effects, stunts and action, and score. These cover a nice range of topics, but they don’t do so with a lot of detail. The tone tends to remain fluffy and emphasizes how great the movie will be. Still, we learn a reasonable amount along the way.

Cut footage appears next. We get an Alternate Opening (11:34), two Alternate Endings (8:38 and 4:07) and eight Deleted Scenes (8:10). In the “Opening”, we meet young versions of Theseus and Phaedra; it includes some of the material found in the movie’s actual start, but it gives the flick a quieter launch. As for the alternate endings, the second seems more “alternate” than the first. Neither does anything to substantially change the movie’s finish – the same people die in all of them – but they’re moderately interesting to see.

Don’t expect a ton from the “Deleted Scenes”, either. They embellish some of the character and add minor tidbits, but I’d be hard-pressed to cite anything particularly intriguing; we get some small additions but nothing more.

Immortals: Gods and Heroes lets us see a graphic novel. It comes via still frames and lets us learn more about the various movie characters and themes. It can be a little tough to read – even on my 50-inch set, the print tended to be a bit small – but it’s still a fun extra.

The disc opens with ads for Haywire and Machine Gun Preacher. These also show up under Sneak Peek along with a promo for Act of Valor. The disc tosses in the trailer for Immortals as well.

Essentially a combination of 300 and Clash of the Titans, Immortals boasts impressive visuals but not as strong an emphasis on story and characters as I’d like. While it’s not a bad effort and can deliver some vivid action, it usually favors style over substance and lacks the desired impact. The Blu-ray provides generally excellent picture along with very good audio and an average roster of supplements. This is a watchable movie but not anything memorable.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.0555 Stars Number of Votes: 36
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