Lenny's free, but her headspace isn't - not with Amy still around. Melanie continues falling apart.
Immortals. 2011. Directed by Tarsem Singh. Screenplay by Charley & Vlas Parlapanides.
Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans, Joseph Morgan, Anne Day-Jones, Greg Bryk, Alan Van Sprang, Peter Stebbings, Daniel Sharman, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, & Steve Byers. Relativity Media/Virgin Produced/Mark Canton Productions.
Rated 18A. 110 minutes.
Tarsem Singh is an interesting director. He has music video sensibilities, which is where he really got his start doing videos for such artists as En Vogue and more important R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” and it helps because his films have their own sort of flow. He doesn’t direct like everybody else. And while not all his films are that special, some of his work is undeniably impressive, visually exciting, and with a flair all his own. The Cell grabbed me when when it first came out, around the time I was about 15. It is such a unique and brutal serial killer film, and one of the three movies I can actually stand, as well as enjoy, Jennifer Lopez’s acting skills. The Fall is a beautiful film, a trippy piece of cinema. Then comes Immortals.
This is one hugely underrated action-fantasy mash-up. Whereas stuff like Clash of the Titans never really hits its mark, Immortals has so much to offer. Again, the visual style Singh employs makes this into, as he describes it himself, an action movie steeped in the look of Renaissance paintings. In addition, people like Mickey Rourke, a pre-Superman Henry Cavill, Luke Evans, even a bit of John Hurt, helps the acting rise above standard and stale melodrama you might amongst other similar offerings.
This screenplay is interesting because the writers chose to change pieces where they found themselves able. For instance, Zeus and Poseidon (Luke Evans/Kellan Lutz) are young men instead of the standardized old men we’re used to seeing. They apparently attributed this to the fact, and it is fact, that the Greeks themselves would often adapt certain aspects of the stories re: their Gods to in turn adapt with modern issues and times. So it’s only fitting some things get rearranged. Most of all, despite the stylized look of Immortals I’m glad that they chose to write this not as a modernized, contemporary adaptation. Due to that we’re treated to some amazing locations, many wonderfully designed sets which take you away from merely some desert, to the desert of another plane, a place where Tartarus and other mythical locations exist. Something I admire about Singh is how it’s very clear even as a director he takes great interest in set design, as well as design of the overall production. I’m convinced that’s a sign of a director’s grasp, as lesser directors likely leave that task completely to a production designer without having a hand in it. The style of Singh’s films is singular across them all. Like The Cell with its ability to take us inside the deranged and rotting mind of a serial killer, here Singh transforms the world in front of the lens into a lost place of Greek myth. He and production designer Tom Foden (who has worked with him before several times and other solid films like M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village and Mark Romanek’s chiller One Hour Photo) really take us away to another realm. These types of films concerning Greek mythology could easily be set simply in regular deserts and other similar landscapes. Instead we’re pulled right into the books and poems which describe Heaven, Tartarus, an Earth where Gods still came and left their mark.
As opposed to 300 with its CGI, Cavill’s physique as the lead, Theseus, is commendable work. He insisted on achieving his chiseled look naturally instead of having it all drawn on in post-production. The entire story behind it is mad, as financing troubles ended up having him effectively build up his body a few times before the money finally went through. Regardless, he also does some proper acting. So that’s really a double threat when it comes to action-oriented actors, which he’s turning out more and more to be; he can act, he can look the part and kick some ass. He does well with the choreographed fight sequences, which show off his athleticism, and in part his theatricality. It’s no wonder he’s gone on to even bigger things, as he has the gait and attitude of a Hollywood leading man.
Further than that, Rourke provides the essential villain that is Hyperion. In actual mythology, Hyperion is a little obscure, and though the film’s plot/story are linked quite a bit to the Titanomachy he also barely appears there at all anyways. So the writers have really come up with using Hyperion as a tabula rasa, where the Titan rebellion is sort of thrown on his shoulders, as he searches out the Epirus Bow to release them and find revenge on the Gods. Rourke is unsettling, even just Hyperion and his men are scary, scarring their faces and smashing the genitals of their recruits, going into battle like complete and utter savages. The ruggedness of Rourke makes for an imposing character in Hyperion, plus he looks absolutely mental with the big helmet on, such a perfect costume design that makes him look like some kind of jackal, or something of the like.
Added to these two lead roles, Evans is great as a young Zeus. He is a serious looking dude to begin with, and here he gives that youthful God a stern, calculating gaze, and fierce intensity that makes him formidable. Playing the oracle Phaedra is Freida Pinto; she is a nice choice, even if her role isn’t as massive as the men. But her feminine power as the oracle, a respected and revered role, is clear by the way she performs and how she makes the character feel. Also, really have to mention Robert Maillet – he plays the Minotaur, who in this version is just a massive, beastly man with a helmet and horns made from barbed wire-like steel wrapped around his head; terrifying. Maillet used to perform in the WWE, before it was WWE, as the wrestler Kurrgan. He does well here with a horrifying character. Honestly, that part actually freaks me out, and I’m a horror veteran. Great to see him here, using his physicality no less.
Lots of action, plenty excitement, a nice ass kicking showdown between Hyperion and Theseus. What more could you want? There are a couple pieces of CGI that I wasn’t big on, as well as some dialogue in parts (Stephen Dorff’s character wasn’t overly well written or at all developed; his acting doesn’t help much either). But overall, Immortals is a 4-star fantasy flick with heavy action, even some nice moments of bloody madness. Cavill, Rourke, and Evans too, they drive the cast, making this more than action fodder with a Greek mythology twist. Straying slightly from the myths and carving their own path, Tarsem Singh and Co. make a fine effort out of this one. Not enough people give this the credit it deserves, which is a shame. Let’s hope after a few missteps Singh does more fantastical work like this and The Cell down the road.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 3, Episode 2: “Boy Parts”
Directed by Michael Rymer
Written by Tim Minear
* For a review of the previous episode, “Bitchcraft” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Replacements” – click here
“Boy Parts” begins with Misty Day (Lily Rabe) apparently risen from the grave herself. A couple gator hunters come across her in the swamps, Steve Nicks’ “Edge of Seventeen” playing in the background. She’s dancing and lamenting the killing of the beautiful creatures – gators hung from the trees, gutted, being skinned. When the hunters threaten her, she brings a gator back to life and then another comes out of the swamp, so bye bye hunters. Chomp chomp. I love that she’s back already, I thought we might have to go an episode or two before Misty cropped up once more. But here she is. Lily Rabe has been a revelation since the second season and I cannot get enough. Hopefully her character has lots to do coming up.
Back at Miss Robichaux’s Academy, Cordelia (Sarah Paulson) is waking all the girls up, readying everyone for a meeting. Poor Madison (Emma Roberts) is obviously still reeling from her gang rape, like any sensible young woman would. Then there’s Zoe (Taissa Farmiga), whose feelings for Kyle (Evan Peters) are obvious; he died, yet she knows he wasn’t a bad guy, he tried to do the right thing after he discovered what happened with his frat brothers.
Most intriguing, Fiona (Jessica Lange) has Madame Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates), fresh out of the living grave, tied and gagged in her room. What’s the rub here? I’m so interested to find out where this is headed.
Flash to Queenie (Gabourey Sidibe) back in 2012, where she worked at a fried chicken place called Chubbie’s – a guy is giving her shit about not having enough pieces in his basket. Instead, she jams her hand into the boiling fat behind the counter, voodoo dolling the jackass yelling at her. Flashback to the young witches sitting around, talking to Cordelia and each other about where they came from before the academy.
Up show the police looking to talk with Madison and Zoe about their presence at the frat party. Things are getting tense. Even worse, Zoe gets awkward and nervous and breaks down, telling the police everything. And I mean EVERYTHING! Yet luckily, she is a witch. Among witches. After things go awry, Fiona struts in to undo it all with that sweet feminine magic. Or straight up devilish magic, either way it works. Then she goes back to the girls’ room, tosses Zoe and Madison at the walls and lays down the law about how things are going to go from here on in: shape up, or ship the fuck out.
“I couldn‘t toast a piece of bread with the heat they were putting on you“
To try mending Zoe’s sadness over Kyle, the usually hateful Madison has a plan to help. She takes them to the city morgue, in order to return the favour of Zoe killing the guy who raped her. In one room there are the pieces of all the guys killed in the crash. Kyle was dismembered terribly, so they’ve got to mix and match a few pieces in order to get him back together. The title of this episode “Boy Parts” comes to bear on their process, as Madison decides they’ll find the best pieces then top it all off with Kyle’s head: the ideal Ken doll.
Meanwhile, Cordelia and her husband Hank Foxx (Josh Hamilton) are trying to put together their own boy, or girl – they want a baby, no matter what. However, Cordelia can’t seem to get pregnant. Her womb has troubles, for whatever reason. Hank seems supportive, but wants her to use the witchcraft to make things possible for them. Cordelia’s against it, not wanting to turn into her own mother; someone who has taken the shortcuts of life at every turn.
Finally, LaLaurie has to come to terms with what Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett) did to her all those years ago.
We flash back to after Delphine first took the vial and drank it. She wakes up to find her worst fears coming true: her family is killed, while she’s been given eternal life. They were all hung. Now, Delphine is left by Laveau to spend life in a box underneath the earth, never to die. Only Fiona has dug her back up and let her free. Well, not free. She’s essentially under the slavery of the Supreme for now.
Over at the morgue, Madison and Zoe have a Kyle Frankenstein monster put together. They’re gearing up for some type of witchcraft ceremony, in which they intend to bring him back to life again. Things don’t go exactly as planned, though.
Kyle comes back to life, all right. He just doesn’t come back like he was, at all. He is more similar to Frankenstein’s monster than ever before.
“Did we just barter with the Devil? ‘Cause I don’t know if I’m down with that.”
Nan’s psychic powers lead her to find LaLaurie upstairs tied in the closet, which starts a bit of chaos. First, Delphine cracks Queenie over the top of the head, knocking her out. But Fiona is across town at the home base of Marie Laveau, they’re having a bit of a head-to-head confrontation. They drop a bit of knowledge on us about shamans, necromancy, Haitian voodoo and such. Plenty of history in a few minutes of dialogue between Lange and Bassett – another classic pairing we’re able to enjoy courtesy of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk & Co. Though, the offer Fiona brings for Laveau is turned away before anything else happens. We’ll get more of this later on. Not too long afterwards, we see the Minotaur is still under care of Marie, who unchains him for “business” they have to take care of soon.
Cordelia and Hank are busy trying to do freaky rituals in order to get pregnant. They have kinky sex with black candles, a circle of black sand or something, and all that kind of wild stuff. Oh, and blood. I suppose being a witch can offer a bit of kink in the love life. This whole sequence is pretty creepy and full of sensual imagery. The sex, a snake egg cracks, fire ignites in the circle around them. Then as they finish, everything goes back to normal. Will it work? Who knows.
Zoe is busy rushing Kyle away from the morgue. The poor dude is having troubles, coming back to life is obviously not a walk in the park. Kyle smashes his body around in the car, as Zoe drives them off. She’s upset, trying to do her best and feeling she did the wrong thing bringing him back.
Luckily, Misty Day turns up in their backseat. She knows how to help Kyle transition back into life appropriately. Zoe brings them back to Misty’s shack, out in the swamps. Misty wipes dung all over Kyle, great healing properties she says. Leaving him with the resurrected witch, Zoe is conflicted about what ought to be done with Kyle in his newly living state; he looks monstrous, Evan Peters does such a fantastic job performing this character, amazing work.
A good conversation between Fiona and LaLaurie, as the latter laments now being above ground, her family dead and gone, everything changed and new to her completely. Lots of interesting things happening between these two. Cannot wait for more of their relationship to come out! And also just having LaLaurie’s presence around, in a day and age very far socially from where she was in the early 19th century. Exciting thematic things will unfold.
The next episode is called “The Replacements”, once again directed by series regular Alfonso Gomez-Rejon.