On Region A-locked US Blu-ray we get a reference quality video presentation that stands out in every regard. Framed in the movie’s original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 widescreen, the 1080p High Definition video rendition revels in every shot from Singh’s visually opulent work, perfectly representing the live-action-against-a-CG-backdrop images. Detail is fantastic throughout, indeed many of the more effects-driven moments would not look so convincing were it not for the impressive, often photo-realistic presentation. The shimmering Bronze armour; the creepy helmets; the statues and the imaginative settings all come across extremely well, boasting a rich, vivid and broad palette which includes some wonderfully sumptuous tones. Digital anomalies and defects are non-existent; there’s no over edge enhancement and DNR is kept to an indiscernible level. Indeed, baring much of the same stylisation, Immortals arguably competes with the 300 blu-ray itself in terms of image quality, even if it is let down a notch below perfect by black levels which aren’t 100% stable.
The aural accompaniment for the movie is just as impressive as the video transfer; the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is the epitome of bombast, with just about the most bass that I have come across on a release in the quote some time. It’s excessive in the extreme, and indeed it’s the lack of refinement in the blunt-force-trauma offering that keeps it from garnering a perfect-10 score. You’ve got two choices – watch it as close to reference level as you can and run the risk of waking the neighbours with the pulsing tremors; or lower the volume and run the risk of struggling a little bit with some of the dialogue. If you do the former, you’ll find clear and coherent dialogue throughout, largely dominating the frontal array. Effects are also exaggerated, but in a way which appears totally in-line with the almost comic-book stylisation of the action, and we get plenty of body blows and weapon slashes punctuating the film which light up the surrounds. The score, at times hitting the perfect note with a suitably rousing theme, is where the majority of the bass comes from (although there are several spectacular setpieces which boast some heavy-duty thundering, like Poseidon’s leap from the Heavens). Overall this is a punchy, hard-hitting, thunderous offering which creates a wonderfully immersive, at times oppressive environment within which you can fully appreciate the film.
Although not as packed with extra features as you might have hoped for (it’s not like 300: The Complete Experience), and lacking in any informative commentaries or clever PiP tracks, we do get a couple of decent accompaniments, perhaps most interestingly a selection of deleted and alternate scenes which are certainly worth checking out.
It’s No Myth is a brief 6 minute look at the actually Greek myths behind the story, with professors and experts on board to talk about the legends, before quickly dissolving into a self-justification exercise with the cast and crew defending their decision to ignore mythological history.
Caravaggio Meets Fight Club – Tarsem’s Vision, although considerably longer at 21 minutes, is actually a collection of 4 featurettes on mythology, stunts, score and special effects, respectively. Unfortunately this bitty, piecemeal approach to providing some behind-the-scenes information leaves you feeling a little dissatisfied, even if the bases are loosely covered with brief cast and crew interview snippets along the way.
Deleted Scenes includes 8 scenes which total over 7 minutes of extra footage: Lysander defects to the Heraklions, Hellenics arrive at Mount Tartarus, Zeus confronts Poseidon, The Minotaur tracks our hero, The young Gods discuss the Epirus Bow, Mondragon and Beastmaster report to Hyperion, Helios reports to Cassander, and Hyperion curses the Gods. There is nothing here that really warranted being left in, although a couple of brief extra moments with Rourke are worth a watch, and trawling through these once won’t do any harm.
Alternate Opening Scene runs at a fairly hefty 12 minutes in length and is definitely worth watching. Out of all of the extra footage, this one is the most interesting, offering up a revealing backstory to the main characters, in particular Hyperion, whose history is further expanded to include where his scars came from and the reason why he wears crab-like helmets.
Alternate Ending 1 is a longer 8 minute variant which sees a different fate for Theseus. It’s not a better ending, but it’s still worth a watch.
Alternate Ending 2 is more interesting, perhaps going with a more realistic outcome to the final confrontation between Theseus and Hyperion. Again, I’m not sure they could have used either of these, but they’re worth checking out. Certainly neither of these alternate endings, nor the ending from the main feature follow the ‘true’ outcome of the myth of Theseus.
Digital Comic Book Prequel
Immortals: Gods and Heroes is quite hard to digest even on a big screen, coming fast and at times difficult to read because of the font size (the physical graphic novel is far more accessible). There’s nothing substantial here, just a bunch of piecemeal backstories to the characters, of which only a couple stand out as particularly interesting. Still, for those who appreciated the realm of Immortals, it’s definitely worth checking out (maybe even worth picking up the book).
Aside from a trailer for the main feature there are a bunch of previews on disc startup, including trailers for Haywire and Machine Gun Preacher.
So, what did you expect from this movie? Because I went into it expecting it to be the vacuous mess that would warrant all the hating that has been put upon it. And I came out pleasantly surprised: it was actually quite good fun. We get to see the future Man of Steel flex his muscles; the supporting cast all seem game enough to go the extra mile, irrespective of the quality of the script; the Gods get to kick ass in slo-mo, even if they really deserve a film all to their own, rather than just this kind of cameo participation; and Mickey Rourke lends the film some much needed weight by turning what – in anybody else’s hands – would have been a cardboard cut-out villain, into someone you actually sit up and pay attention to. Oh and did I mention that it’s shot by the guy who did The Cell and The Fall, with the costumes by the designer who worked on Bram Stoker’s Dracula? The visually opulent realm brought to life by director Tarsem Singh once again reaffirms the fact that he has an eye for the imaginative – and the disturbing. At the end of the day, detractors aren’t wrong about the insubstantial story, peppered full of Titanic-sized plot-holes, or about the improper disrespect for age-old Greek myths, but the film is somehow still a pretty enjoyable audio/visual experience, following in the footsteps of the considerably more straightforward 300. It aims for style over substance – but with just enough going on beneath the surface – and it delivers precisely that.
On region A-locked US Blu-ray we get reference quality video and audio, as well as a nice selection of extras that include a worth-watching alternate opening. Fans should not hesitate in picking this up; newcomers who enjoy a good swords-and-sandals actioner could do worse (er, Clash of the Titans) and if you loved 300 then this is going to be the most fun you’ll have until the prequel comes out. Don’t expect too much, and maybe Immortals will deliver a more entertaining night in than you might have otherwise assumed.
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