The Immortals opened last weekend, and audiences everywhere seem to think it wasn’t speaking Greek. (They were correct–it wasn’t. Anyone who thought otherwise should see their health practitioner.) The mythology-laced 3D sword-and-sandals film managed to top the box in the US and in foreign markets with over $30 million in each region.
Haroo, haroo, haroop-de-doo.
While I haven’t yet seen this mighty movie, I’m really not planning to–I don’t expect it to live that long. The people marketing it lost me halfway through the first trailer, and I don’t want to be found. Here are my five best reasons why.
I want to begin at the end, for though my interest began to end in the beginning, it ended its end at the end. When I saw the release date, my last shreds of interest exploded like a wall being blasted by an arrow made out of light.
My first exposure to the phenomenon of 11/11/11 came several years ago. After a musical theater summer camp, one of the girls my buddy flirted with friended me on Facebook and requested that I join the group “11/11/11 at 11:11:11″. I accepted, seeing no harm. Later, after receiving several messages, I removed myself. There was nothing special about the date. It’s just a collection of numbers, and there’s no reason for people to get obsessed about it. Right?
Wrong. Apparently, marketing companies think that witty release dates will sell tickets, and the initial success of The Immortals suggests that they’re not entirely mistaken. However, the ploy was overused for so many movies and video games that I was driven away, not at 111111 with the spirit of the advertising. The executives must think that numbers work like sequels: you’ll make more money if you repeat the same thing over and over. Well, there are indeed as many ones in the standard numerical representation of November 11, 2011 as there are arrows made of light in the Immortals trailer (count them). I’m glad you observed that, marketing people. The corporate gods chose well out of the pool of kindergarteners.
2. So Blunt a Whetstone Couldn’t Fix it
This trailer didn’t only give away the plot of the movie–it gave away The Immortals‘s soul in the first 20 seconds. “I have plenty of women,” Mickey Rourke tells us in his voice over. “I have plenty of weapons.” Just like that, the trailer tells you exactly what this movie is: scantily-clad (if even that much) sex-bombs and arrows made of light that explode like bomb-bombs. And that’s what the trailer spends the rest of it’s time showing you: a chain/whip made of fire (I thought the Ghost Rider sequel was coming out a little later), a very sharp helmet, and a woman taking her dress off.
3. Man of Steel (Or, What’s a Hero Like You Doing In a Movie Like This?)
My first knowledge of Henry Cavill was seeing him on the front cover of Entertainment Weekly last winter. The story within addressed his role in the upcoming Superman film Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder and written by David S. Goyer. Though it annoys me that Superman gets away with pretending not to be God, I am a fan of Goyer’s screenplays and I trust Zack Snyder to make watchable superhero movies. I decided to give it a chance. After realizing that Cavill was also the lead in The Immortals, I revoked its chance privileges. I may yet see Man of Steel, since my nerdy friends will certainly want to. I do not need, however, to see Henry Cavill shooting arrows made of light before I see him shoot laser beams out of his face.
4. Ancestry (Or, Your Predecessors Had Much More Respect)
Spartacus. Gladiator. 300. Especially 300. The 3D technology used to recreate the comic book’s style for the big screen does too much here. That battle scene towards the beginning that looks like it’s in midair? I took the time to pause the clip. It’s in midair. And it really just looks like a bunch of guys fighting on a desktop.
I don’t mention 2010’s Clash of the Titans because I still haven’t seen it, for exactly the same reason I’m not likely to see The Immortals: their ancestors did it better. Though 1981’s Clash of the Titans is loosely based on the story of Perseus, not Theseus, the principle is the same: a mortal hero, both helped and hindered by the Gods, fights men and monsters for the freedom to live as humans and wins. Yes, it’s a pre-3D film, so the giant scorpions and Medusa move in stop motion. Yes, the acting might leave a little to be desired (totally not a common trait of sword-and-sandals movies). Yes, the story is utterly goofy. But the key thing is that the movie has a feeling of acknowledging its own camp humor. The Immortals is so serious in the trailer that it’s hard to laugh at Mickey Rourke’s overly sharp helmet or the arrows made of light.
Movie studios are so wrapped up in repackaging old ideas that they think Shakespeare is better in the original Klingon. Newsflash: sword-and-sandal fantasy plays better in unadulterated Cheese.
5. Arrows Made Out of Light (Or, Hey, Legolas! I Found You a Christmas present!)
You may have noticed some references to this reason earlier on. I tried to keep them subtle. About as subtle as arrows made out of light.
When the Lord of the Rings movies were first coming out, my dad pointed out to me that no matter how many arrows Orlando Bloom fired, he always had more in his quiver. It was one of those little examples where I started to learn about suspension of disbelief. Here, that particular point of disbelief gets taken care of nicely: the arrows don’t actually exist until he pulls back on the string, so there’s no need for a quiver.
Sure, it makes sense. Is it dignified? …I think not. While it is a cool concept, it should not be the centerpoint of a movie that takes itself this seriously. I would believe it, say, if after the title there was a teaser joke as in The Dark Knight‘s trailer. It might go something like this: Theseus shoots an arrow into somebody’s eye. Comic relief character: “I guess he saw the light.”