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Contemplate This on the Tree of Woe

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Saturday, November 12, 2011 10:06 AM
On the Viewer - Immortals
 by Fëanor

I'm a big fan of director Tarsem Singh (AKA Tarsem, AKA Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, AKA Tarsem Dhandwar Singh). I've really enjoyed every movie I've seen by him (see my review of The Fall), and Immortals is no exception. Like his other films, it's visually stunning and insanely imaginative. One of the film's most stunning and imaginative images is the one with which it opens: the Titans, covered in filth, locked standing in rows inside a box beneath a mountain, with long metal poles held between their teeth. This is where the climax of the film will take place. Should the villain arrive here with the weapon of legend in hand, humanity and the Gods both may fall forever.

(Be aware I've included some bits of information below that could be described as "spoilers." But c'mon. The story's pretty old at this point, people.)

The film is set in the mythological past of Greece and tells the story of a simple peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill) who wants nothing but to live out his life in his small seaside town and keep his mother safe. But higher powers have taken an interest in him. Zeus, king of the Gods (Luke Evans), sees in him the only hope for mankind, and, in the form of a wise old man (John Hurt), tries to subtly influence him to do what must be done.

But before Zeus can convince Theseus to take any definite action, war sweeps in with King Hyperion at the head of it, and the peasant's simple life is torn apart. Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), raging at the Gods because they refused to answer his prayers and let his family die of sickness, seeks to reclaim a legendary weapon, the Epirus bow, so he can use it to release the Gods' ancient enemies, the Titans, from their prison under Mount Tartarus. He will torture and kill anyone, and commit any blasphemy necessary to achieve his ends. When Theseus gets in the way, he is nearly destroyed and all but gives up hope. But the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) recognizes Theseus as not only a good man, but also essential to the future of Greece, and tries to guide him back to the right path.

Tarsem's Ancient Greece is a land of wild extremes. Every town is on the edge of a sheer, dizzyingly high cliff; Greece's last stand takes place behind a gigantic, towering wall in front of which sits a tremendous and terrifying army; when our heroes seek to cross a sea, they find it black with oil, and its waves rise up as high as a mountain; when Theseus is held prisoner, it's by a bright blue pool beneath a tall tower in the middle of an endless white desert. The costumes are similarly extravagant and otherworldly. Hyperion and all his men wear dark, hideous masks. The Gods are dressed in glowing gold and white with huge, fanciful (and frankly, faintly ridiculous) helmets on their heads. The actions of the characters are just as extreme: Hyperion's cruelty and savagery are horrific to behold; the Gods move and smite with breathtaking speed and power.

If you're like most people, the only thing you probably remember about Theseus is that he fought the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. That story is told here, but as a tiny subplot, and it's reimagined in a very interesting way: the Minotaur is a servant of Hyperion known only as "The Beast," a giant man who wears a bull helmet and grunts and snorts like an animal. Theseus doesn't use string to find his way out of the maze, but cuts himself and lets his own bloody footprints guide him.

If you're looking for a faithful retelling of ancient legends, or a realistic action movie, Immortals is not for you. This film is epic fantasy - a psychedelic dream of heroes and monsters; the tale of two interwoven wars, one between flawed humans, and one between flawed super-humans. In the conflict between Theseus and Hyperion, we see two men responding to physical and moral crises in different ways. What do we do if our prayers go unanswered? Do we curse the world and the Gods, or do we go on and do the best we can with our own two hands? What is the right action in a crisis: to protect only your loved ones and ignore all others, or to seek to protect all those who need help? And if even immortals can die, then where does true immortality lie? The answer would seem to be, in our deeds, and in our children.

Immortals has moments of ridiculousness, but it's so beautiful and creative and powerful and epic and exciting that it's hard to fault it when it goes a bit too far. Tarsem Singh has made another great film. I look forward to the next one.
Tagged (?): Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), On the Viewer (Not)
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011 10:23 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animated GIFs (Not), Art (Not), Books (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), Harry Potter (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Monsters (Not), Movies (Not), Music (Not), Mythology (Not), News (Not), Painting (Not), Photography (Not), Photoshop (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Trek (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Web comics (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011 11:43 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Batman (Not), Blade Runner (Not), Captain America (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Cosplay (Not), Costumes (Not), Firefly (Not), Harry Potter (Not), Holiday (Not), Links (Not), Mario (Not), Monty Python (Not), Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Star Wars (Not), Tolkien (Not), TV (Not), Video games (Not), Wolverine (Not)
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Friday, June 24, 2011 12:55 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Advertising (Not), Aliens (Not), Art (Not), Captain America (Not), Clothing (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Cosplay (Not), Costumes (Not), Craft (Not), Dinosaurs (Not), Food (Not), Gadgets (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), LEGO (Not), Links (Not), Lovecraft (Not), Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Shirts (Not), Star Wars (Not), Steven Spielberg (Not), Technology (Not), Tolkien (Not), Toys (Not), TV (Not), Vampires (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Web comics (Not), Zelda (Not)
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Wednesday, April 27, 2011 12:50 PM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Animals (Not), Art (Not), Avengers (Not), Books (Not), Captain America (Not), Cartoons (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Crime (Not), Food (Not), Gadgets (Not), Game of Thrones (Not), Green Lantern (Not), Links (Not), Michael Chabon (Not), Monsters (Not), Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), News (Not), Philosophy (Not), Products (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Science (Not), Scooby-Doo (Not), Spider-Man (Not), Star Wars (Not), Technology (Not), Terminator (Not), TV (Not), Twitter (Not), Video (Not), X-Men (Not)
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Monday, January 31, 2011 10:41 AM
Recyclotron
 by Fëanor

Fëanor pours the entire internet into the Recyclotron, and only the best links come out the other end for you to enjoy.

Tagged (?): Advertising (Not), Art (Not), Celebrities (Not), Comedy (Not), Comic books (Not), Craft (Not), Godzilla (Not), Kaiju (Not), Kurosawa (Not), Links (Not), Monsters (Not), Movies (Not), Mythology (Not), News (Not), Photography (Not), Recyclotron (Not), Star Trek (Not), Superman (Not), Toys (Not), Video (Not), Video games (Not), Web comics (Not)
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Welcome to the blog of Jim Genzano, writer, web developer, husband, father, and enjoyer of things like the internet, movies, music, games, and books. For a more detailed run-down of who I am and what goes on here, read this.

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