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Immortals

Like most genres the ‘sword and sandal’ epics have returned to vogue.  This renaissance could probably be traced back to 2000’s ‘Gladiator’ although it was ‘300’ which really revived it from its long dormancy.  Since then many have attempted to re-capture the allure of the films from which actor Victor Mature gained his fame.  ‘Immortals’ attempts to keep this flame alive as it emulates the fantastical realism on which it thrived.

 

Long home to mighty gods, the majestic kingdom of Olympus faces trouble.  Attacked by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) who declares war on the gods after his family dies, the powerful deities ponder their move.  Enlisting the help of Theseus (Henry Cavill) and noble God Zeus (Luke Evans), they endeavour to prevent Hyperion from obtaining the Epirus Bow, a powerful weapon capable of destroying them.  With brave warriors and deadly enemies at every turn the stage is set for the biggest battle Olympus has faced.

 

Filled with barrel chested heroes, lashings of violence and ludicrous plotting, Immortals is pure Saturday matinee material.  One hardly goes to see this type of production for the acting – even if Cavill and Rourke make for an interesting combination of leads.  ‘Immortals’ exists so we can marvel at the mega-budgeted CGI, ‘Matrix’-style action sequences and how earnest everyone performs while wearing very little.

 

For all its schlock value ‘Immortals’ is a fun escapade and takes care to interweave many Greek mythologies into the storyline.  This saves it from being a run of the mill mindless adventure yarn although it certainly isn’t what anyone can call high art.  Events move along at a fairly rapid pace with the virtuous heroes always determined to rescue their friends and crush foes with deadly force.

 

It is safe saying ‘Immortals’ won’t win an Oscar but as a slice of entertaining hokum it succeeds.  It also shows genres never fade away – they simply return when tastes, and box office dollars, swing their way again.

 

Rating out of 10:  6

 

The Ides of March

George Clooney has been one of the few actors successfully mixing acting and directing.  While one is reluctant to compare him to Clint Eastwood, he shares the great man’s eye for a good story.  Helming movies like Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck, he seems intent on delving into what makes people tick.  The Ides of March is no different with its examination of the American political machine as engrossing as his previous stellar work.

 

Stephen (Ryan Gosling) works as a Press Secretary for Democratic Governor Mike Morris (George Clooney).  When his boss nominates for the Presidential Election, Stephen works alongside campaign manager Paul (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to ensure he wins.  With Morris’ conservative rival riding high in the polls, with the help of steely campaign manager Tom (Paul Giamatti), they have their work cut out.  Over the course of the campaign loyalties become tested as the race to the White House becomes an intense battle of wills.

 

Those already cynical to the ways of politics may not find much joy in The Ides of March.  Such has been the level of distrust of politicians since the days of Watergate movies such as these have hardly put them in the best of lights.  Clooney’s take is a fascinating look at how those in this world are forced to compromise their principles in order to win.  In this world numbers count more than promises with loyalty and trust scarce commodities.

 

Ensuring these elements remain fresh, Clooney relies on his stellar cast to effectively convey the ongoing machinations.  Gosling is suitably impressive as the increasingly embittered aide slowly trapped in a vicious cycle.  Hoffman, Giamatti and Clooney provide solid support with the many sub-plots as fascinating at the main game.  Political enthusiasts may not discover anything new although movies in this genre rarely fail to engage and this one does so with skill.

 

The Ides of March is another string to Clooney’s directorial bow maintaining his established consistent quality.  It’s fantastic seeing him work hard at creating his behind the scenes credentials with his latest further cementing his status as one of cinema’s bright stars.

 

Rating out of 10:  8