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“Immortals,” reviewed

“Immortals,” reviewed (photo)

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There are two wars onscreen in “Immortals”: one between armies fighting for control of ancient Greece, and one between a director with an unconventional visual style and the narrative demands of a conventional action blockbuster. The “Greece” of “Immortals” — and you kind of have to put it in quotes because it bears so little physical resemblance to the real geographic location that goes by that name — is an insanely beautiful and insanely impractical landscape of deserts and mountains and homes carved out of the sheer walls of seaside cliffs. It looks nothing like any other film about ancient mythology. The plot is a different story: it looks like every movie about ancient mythology, a generic quest undertaken with generic archetypes who have generic problems that are resolved in generic ways. It makes for a strange film, dazzling and dull all at once.

It seems silly to even try to summarize the plot when the film itself barely does, but what the heck. Evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) believes the secret to winning his war with the Greeks is to unleash the Titans, fallen gods who were defeated by Zeus and the rest of his family and imprisoned inside Mount Tartarus. In order to do that, Hyperion needs the fabled Bow of Epirus, a weapon of incredible power. In order to get that, Hyperion needs to consult the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), who’s looking for the Bow herself in the company of a Greek peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill), who wants revenge against Hyperion for slaughtering his mother.

That about does it. No reason is ever given for the war between Hyperion and the Greeks. Nor do we learn what Hyperion thinks he’ll gain from unleashing the Titans (not to spoil anything, but whatever he hoped would happen, doesn’t happen). Really, no reason is given for anything in the movie. The Greek landscape is gorgeous and totally ridiculous. The people live in this super-cool looking and totally implausible system of cliff-wall cave houses. They have no agriculture and no economy. All they do is train to fight and fight. What do they eat? Where do they grow their crops if they live inside mountains? If Hyperion doesn’t get them, I imagine starvation will.

None of it makes a lick of sense when you think about it; director Tarsem Singh is simply counting on you to not think it because he’s throwing so much eye candy at you that your brain doesn’t have time to simultaneously process all the pretty imagery and the imagery’s total lack of cohesion. For the most part, he’s right. This movie is incredibly fun to look at, and that’s even with a thin film of 3D glasses muting Tarsem’s sumptuous color palette. The fights, many of which are strikingly staged inside very cramped quarters, are clear and crisp, and the way Tarsem delineates between man and god by filming their respective battles at different speeds — real time for man, slow-motion for gods — is very clever. Though it doesn’t get used very much, the Bow of Epirus is one badass movie weapon and another really memorable looking element of the film. If there was a projector malfunction at your screening of “Immortals” and the sound died, you’d still get your money’s worth — though you would miss out on the pleasure of hearing Rourke menacingly grumble “A man’s seed can be his most dangerous weapon.” What does that even mean?!?

Ultimately, I’m not sure that Tarsem is even half as interested in any of the characters as he is with what they’re wearing and where they’re standing. The only memorable parts about the lead characters are their physical attributes: Cavill’s chiseled pecs, Pinto’s naked rear, Rourke’s goofy bunny rabbit helmet. Theseus and Phaedra accrue a whole bunch of helpers and assistants in their search for Epirus’ Bow but the film hardly even introduces them; I know Stephen Dorff’s character was a thief, but who was that other bald guy? And how did the silent monk from Rourke’s camp wind up with them? Maybe it’s as simple as the fact that “Immortals” looks like it’s set inside a dream and so we’re meant to assume that everything within the film operates along the rules of dream logic. That’s fair, if a tad unsatisfying. Still, the film is handsome enough to recommend on the strength of the visuals alone, which is basically what I’m doing.

“Immortals” opens today in theaters nationwide. If you see it, tell us what you think. Leave us a comment below or write to us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

via GIPHY

Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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