Of director Tarsem Singh’s films, which include The Cell and The Fall, Immortals is the least visually busy. Most of the the more blatant visual effect cues seem designed more to make them pop with the addition of 3D than appear fantastical. Even compared to the likes of Zack Snyder’s 300, which Immortals seems forever connected to in the public’s mind, it’s quaint.
If Immortals proves anything, it’s that the material between those flourishes of radical violence and intense sightseeing never find their pace. Dialogue strings flounder with their repetition, swinging wildly, hoping to hit home. Chatter of gods, sacred bows, and obsessions of power are free to be exploited, and within every moment Immortals is given. It’s as if the material is recycled within the material.
Most of the characters mope around with their heads down, likely mimicking the audience, waiting for something to happen. The eventual explosion of torn limbs, splintered bones, and decapitations are almost worth the wait, ingenious in their implementation. This certainly feels like a singular vision, one of those films where the director stamp carries legitimacy. From the editing to the cinematography, it’s a complete, inventive flourish.
Maybe that’s where it goes wrong too, the input of others never considered while reaching for that singular vision. So little of Immortals feels crucial, and the character development is stuffed in unnaturally. There seems to be little sense of style coming from the script of the Parlapanides brothers, clashing with the overarching visual narrative at each juncture.
Hiding within is a glorious film, one with a tighter storytelling structure that plays off the obvious strengths. Immortals is trying to be more than it is, a grungy, vicious faux-historical epic struggling to deal with dulled emotions that exist outside revenge. A singular romantic moment is comically stiff, and not for the reasons you might think. Watch Immortals for the brazen spectacle of gore, skip it for everything else. [xrr rating=3/5 label=Movie]
Captured digitally, Immortals still has a pleasing veneer of grit, a lightly layered false grain structure that neither overwhelms or becomes a concern. The AVC encode is ace at resolving the minutiae, and in some cases, overworking to reveal the rigidity of the special effects. Artificial mountains stand tall against flat oceans, a clear sign of separation for 3D that creates concerns in two dimensions.
Immortals carry a brilliant sharpness, even in medium shots where digital usually loses some of its clear luster. Close-ups are vigorously resolved to squeeze out impressive definition, especially as battles ensue. Dirt and grime build up to intensity for high-fidelity detail, superb during an oil-soaked conversation near the halfway marker. Even the exposition dump told in the opening moments is delivered via thickly painted artwork, those strokes and lines spectacular.
Even in broad daylight, Immortals is intentionally dim, light apparently unable to pass these rocky cliff faces. What that means in the home market is a desperate need for black levels, which the disc can provide. Rarely do they lose their oomph and power, satisfying a need for shadow detail plus dimensionality. The image is consistent in generating necessary depth.
Of concern to an overall visual punch is the boring color palette, bronzed with the sole exception of the god’s domain. That’s a generic, pale blue. Every scene is doused with a heavy orange or gaudy yellows, giving little distinction to any scene or moment. Even the blood is lost to the combination of darkness and color timing. For a film so gleeful about this depiction of death in the bloodiest means possible, it almost seems to avoid the intensity.
Working in 3D though is where Immortals can shine. Spears poke at the screen with victims on their tips, sword slashes splatter blood freely, and the scale is enhanced by extending the backgrounds far into the virtual frame. Action scenes often move at a heavy clip, so not every element or shot can be easily appreciated, but certainly the depth is there. The best moments in terms of 3D come with Immortals settles down, panning over thousands of troops extending into the horizon, or celebrating the effects.
Dark as it is, the disc is primed for excessive cross talk, and while that element exists, rarely is it an aggressive impediment. Darkness rules here so expect heavy crush with dimming glasses, while the bright spots leap out. Elements such as Mickey Rourke’s helmet with spines running down the sides of his face always sets his head in place with plenty of depth. General dialogue scenes are heightened by a sense of scale and loads of armor that can peak out of the frame. Lots of fun to be had here [xrr rating=4/5 label=2D-Video] [xrr rating=4/5 label=3D-Video]
Immortals is for men. That’s not sexist, just the demographic reality. It’s full of brawn and burly, room shaking bass. Nothing will miss an opportunity to destroy a weak subwoofer with heavy, droning LFE. From the gods leaving their home to smash into the Earth to discharged mystical bows, the raw power exhibited here is outstanding.
The way fights mingle within the sound design is special too, one conflict involving a chain assault which works through the available speakers. Admittedly generic blood splatter effects will splash into the surrounds to accentuate the battle, even if it’s not doing so logically. Immortals has a habit of creating positional audio where it shouldn’t be, the blood being only one example. It never visually pans overhead.
You can hear slaves chipping away at rocks with a mechanical like sound in the rears at 18:13. Yet, when the camera pans back, there’s nothing actually there. The effect isn’t an echo so much as it is doubling up the stereos. The design handles echoes, and well too. Effects inside a mausoleum are sensational at setting scale. Balance is precise and the mixture of elements is clean. It’s a fun listen, if not one concerned with being all that accurate to the video. [xrr rating=4/5 label=Audio]
This one had a beefy worldwide box office run, although that doesn’t translate into any exceptional bonuses. It’s No Myth details the historical significance of the story, while the four-part, 20-minute making of Caravaggio Meets Fight Club will detail the creation of the fantastic. An alternate opening and two alternate endings are separate from eight deleted scenes. A handful of digital comics and trailers are the final pieces. [xrr rating=2/5 label=Extras]