Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Immortals: An Exercise in Male Objectification



(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on 12 November 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/Immortals/332542.html)

Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Luke Evans, John Hurt, Freida Pinto
Director: Tarsem Singh
Rating: 2 stars
A casket housed in a giant room begins to tremble; several ghastly creatures bite at metal rods, for some reason we never become privy to; Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) shoots an arrow, and they fly out of their pod. Next, Phaedra (Freida Pinto) wakes up, gasping.
Three other skimpily clad women frown in concern, and ask her something in that vaguely Elvish-sounding tongue people have been ripping off since Tolkien invented it. The Virgin Oracle is one among these scarlet-robed wenches of different ethnicities – apparently, the Greeks were into Affirmative Action in 1228 BC, never mind if they had to traverse the seas, scour continents for virgins and teach them the vaguely Elvish-sounding tongue to do it.
Though it’s rather obvious throughout, the four women are obliged to guard the secret of who the Virgin Oracle among them is, and Hyperion is too slow on the uptake to figure it out. Anyway, Phaedra has had a vision that theist-turned-heathen Hyperion intends to find the Epirus Bow, with which he will release the Titans from Mount Tartarus.
When the four start swaying in some ritualistic dance, the sight of a man with washboard abs wielding an axe comes as a relief. This, we find out, is Theseus (Henry Cavill), who is universally shunned for being the bastard son of a woman who was raped. The movie-makers clearly confused ancient Greece, where most intercourse was forced, with modern-day India.
Zeus, played by Luke Evans in Godly form and John Hurt in human avatar, ponders that Theseus is the one human who can lead an army against Hyperion, because he doesn’t fear danger, death, or ridicule; he only fears failure to defend his loved ones. However, this hero seems quite inept, and needs rescuing by the Gods so often that one wonders why they place any faith in him.
The director had described this movie as an action flick along the lines of “Caravaggio meets Fight Club, with electricity” and “like Baz Luhrman doing Romeo + Juliet in Mexico.” Whatever he was on when he said that, he seems to have had regular doses right through the making of this movie.
Don’t look for logic here; there is no explanation for why people are grievously tortured for information that’s easily available in the marketplace, for how people escape imprisonment regularly, for how a mangy mongrel runs faster than celestial horses, for why an atheist would risk his life to bury the decomposed body of his mother because an Oracle suggests it, or for how some people escape unscathed when the entire world – or whatever part of it matters – has come crumbling down. A certain event may leave scientists, gynaecologists, and anthropologists bewildered. The only thing one can empathise with is why an Oracle would give up a lifetime of awful visions to sleep with the first sexy man she meets, especially since neither she nor her body double are particularly appealing.
On the subject, not since 300 have men been so blatantly objectified. Not a single anatomical contour has been left to the imagination in the cast of the armour they don. Luke Evans is rather dishier for having traded in the priestly robes of Aramis for a tunic with a tiny skirt, and one feels for Athena (Isabel Lucas), when even as she flirtatiously breathes “father”, she seems to be willing him to scream “Who’s your Daddy?” Sadly, though, Athena is the one female descendant of his whom Zeus never made babies with.
Despite the cheesy graphics, it would take a very sick mind to appreciate the surfeit of tasteless gore. Random objects flying at you don’t help the cause. The Immortals is something a 3D action-based mythological drama should never be – boring. The clichéd spurts of wisdom and the even kitschier use of the part-Spanish-part-German-influenced accent Hollywood reserves for fantasy make it very hard to watch. 
Verdict: This movie begs an audience of hormone-ridden teenage girls who buy heart-shaped lollipops, or linguists who might be fascinated by Freida Pinto's bizarre adoptions of fake British, fake American, or true-blue Mumbaiyya accents at random points in the movie. For everyone else, the popcorn is likely to be the best part of the outing.

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