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Entries in immortals (2)

Friday
Sep072012

The Cold Light of Day

The Cold Light of Day isn’t so much a terrible film as it is a terribly bland one. It’s a thriller that thinks it’s enough to have a few pretty people and locations in it to be good and doesn’t bother with things like plot or characterizations. It runs through its quick 93 minute runtime without ever doing much of anything, despite numerous chases, shootouts and fistfights. It’s one of those movies that somehow manages to gather up a decent cast, but doesn’t know what to do with them. By the time it ends, your mind will have done one of two things: wandered off into non-movie related thoughts or drifted to sleep.

The film takes place in Madrid, where Will (Henry Cavill) is meeting up with his family for a vacation. He’s picked up at the airport by his hardened dad, Martin (Bruce Willis), who he doesn’t get along with too well, while the rest of his family, including his mother, brother and his brother’s girlfriend are waiting for him on their boat. After a brief fight and inconsequential plot turns, like Will’s business going bankrupt back home, Will decides to jump off the boat, swim to shore and go into town to buy a few things. When he returns to the beach he emerged from, the boat is gone. When he finds it down shore some time later, he discovers it has been rummaged through and his family is missing. He eventually runs into his dad who admits to him that he’s actually a CIA agent and someone is after him for a briefcase with mysterious contents that he doesn’t have anymore. Unless he can get these people that briefcase, their family is going to die. Martin eventually meets up with his partner, Carrack (Sigourney Weaver), hoping she’ll have it, but he is suddenly murdered by someone off in the distance. All of a sudden, Will is on his own and on a mission to find that briefcase and save his family.

The Cold Light of Day, just to put it into perspective, is the worst thriller to come out since last year’s awful Abduction, which managed to make it to my Worst of the Year list. This isn’t quite that bad and its flaws don’t shine through so noticeably. Most aspects of the film don’t work, but they generally aren’t terrible; the problem is all of those flaws add up to make a mostly dismal film. Bruce Willis, for instance, isn’t necessarily a bad actor, but he’s usually called upon to do little more than smirk and shoot guns, which he does as competently as anyone working in the movies today, but even he looks bored here. He delivers his lines as dryly as he ever has, with so little enthusiasm that when his character is killed off, it’s somewhat of a small relief, in that we won’t have to witness his half-hearted approach to an already underdeveloped character. Henry Cavill, similarly, doesn’t do much to make us care, failing to prove he’s worthy of carrying an entire movie, which doesn’t bode well for next year’s highly anticipated Man of Steel. Cavill is the type of actor, at least as suggested by this movie and last year’s underwhelming Immortals, that thinks speaking louder equates to anger emoting, which isn’t always the case. Hopefully under the guide of visionary and unique director Zack Snyder, he’ll do more than he does here, which is close to nothing.

To be fair, not all of the blame can be placed on him. The direction by Mabrouk El Mechri, whose only other notable film is JCVD, is lost behind the camera, failing to bring forth any sense of excitement or momentum, and the script is a complete mess, putting our hero into so many outlandish situations, it becomes far too unbelievable to follow with any sense of interest. Will is little more than a mild mannered Wall Street trader, but he survives jumping off a building and slamming into the concrete, multiple car and motorcycle crashes, some severe beatings and even a bullet in the back. James Bond wouldn’t have survived this guy’s adventure. To make matters worse, the film builds a mystery around the contents of the briefcase that you want to solve, but then never provides a payoff. When Will asks at the end what was in it, a random government agent answers in a cryptic I’ll-have-to-kill-you-if-I-tell-you sort of way.

When thinking back upon it, it’s an amazing accomplishment to manage to keep the viewer interested in what’s in that briefcase despite their general disinterest in nearly everything that’s happening, yet they still blow it in the end. Here’s a film that shows its cards early on (and whatever it doesn’t show is extremely easy to figure out), but keeps one hidden only to never reveal it. With such a disappointing ending and nothing going on before it, one can’t help but wonder what the point of it all is. The Cold Light of Day is such a jumble of dull action platitudes and listless goings-ons that even its extras are unconvincing—who knew it was so hard to stand idly by a bar?

The Cold Light of Day receives 1/5

Friday
Nov112011

Immortals

When watching director Tarsem’s Immortals, it’s impossible not to reminisce on 300. Aside from the centuries apart settings, the movies have similar goals, look the same and feature a lot of good looking, sweaty men with their shirts off. What 300 lacked in story, it made up for with constant, stylish action. It knew its plot was thin, but, in a strange way, that was one of its strengths. It never believed itself to be more than it really was. Immortals, on the other hand, thinks it’s all that and more. Its nonsense story is tiring and uninteresting, yet it explores it thoroughly. It talks and talks, but has nothing to say. If the two must be compared, Immortals is nothing more than a pretentious 300.

The story has something to do with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) as he searches for the Epirus Bow that will release a group of Titans from their shackles and allow them to wreak havoc on humanity. However, a young man by the name of Theseus (Henry Cavill) is out for revenge and determined to make Hyperion pay for killing his mother, a quest that may end up saving humanity.

I suppose I could go into more detail regarding the oracle played by Freida Pinto, who is able to see into the future supposedly because she is still a pure body, though her eventual (and hilarious) loss of virginity doesn’t seem to have any consequential effects. Or I could talk about the gang of slaves, one of which is no other than Stephen Dorff himself, who accompany Theseus on his mission for no reason that I could decipher other than because they had nothing better to do. But it seems frivolous for a story so meaningless.

Immortals is all style, no substance, which should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Tarsem’s other work. Having directed only two movies prior to this, Tarsem has nonetheless proven himself as a masterful filmmaker, able to combine striking visuals with well told and undeniably unique stories. Both The Fall and the horribly underrated The Cell looked gorgeous, but those looks complimented the story and came naturally to its needs. Here, the looks are all you get and even then, it’s hard to shower them with praise. Although each shot seems to have been carefully planned and executed with poise, the graphic novel style, slow motion approach is becoming old. While The Fall and The Cell are still unique to this day, Immortals steals from a look that seems to have run its course.

Tack on Dorff’s egregious miscasting (his thick American accent is incredibly out of place in a movie set in 13th century Greece) and dull dialogue that makes an already boring movie even more so and all you’re left with are the action scenes. Fortunately, this is where it shines. Sure, it uses the same tactics made popular in previous films, but it nevertheless remains exciting. The climax in particular is adrenaline fueled fun. The problem is that you’ll have invested nothing in the characters or story and won’t care either way what happens. It serves its purpose as a visceral thrill, but that’s a compliment as shallow as the film itself. If Tarsem’s other films found their own voices, Immortals is a ventriloquist act.

Immortals receives 2/5