Immortal is one of those "green screen" films which mixes live
actors with intensive computer graphics, ala Sin City. Like Sin City, it is based on a series of
graphic novels (The Nikopol Trology, by Enki Bilal), and incorporated
the style of the comics as accurately as possible. As with Sin City,
the creator of the comics is also credited as director of the film.
There is one important thing which really
distinguishes it from Sin City: the director did not have Robert
Rodriguez to help out as co-director. Unfortunately, that created a
great gap between the technical proficiency of the two films.
Immortal has some imaginative science fiction concepts that are
inconsistently rendered into film. At its best, it looks like a more
sophisticated version of Blade Runner (which was inspired and
influenced by Bilal's art) rendered in a blue-gray palette. At its
worst, it looks as bad as the cheesy 1980s video game, Dragon's Lair.
The technical strong points are the cityscapes,
which convey a poetic sense of human development gone somehow wrong,
as if to show that all the technological advances of the future will
be used to make the planet a claustrophobic, overly mechanistic,
joyless place. When the film is able to show the humans acting in
front of essentially motionless backgrounds, it accomplishes what it
sets out to do.
There are two areas, however, where the technology
is simply too primitive to work:
1. Motion. When the CGI backgrounds have to be
brought to life - to represent moving vehicles, for example - the
creators just didn't have the skills they needed. The air cars and
other such vehicles look no more realistic than the puppet effects
in Team America, and in fact there were times when I was looking
for the strings attached to vehicles which were only slightly more
sophisticated than Ed Wood's pie plates. It's so bad in places
that it recalls memories of 1950s movies with the miniature boats
in the bathtubs. In fact, the scenes with vehicle motion look and
sound like what Sin City would have been like if it had been
created in Stalinist Russia: clumsy, clunky, and with the sounds
inappropriately matched to the visual effects.
2. CGI characters. Some of the minor characters
in the film are rendered entirely with 3-D animation instead of by
live actors. There is some point to this. The movie takes place in
a world in which humans include ever more synthetic parts, so it
is possible that the most synthetic humans would look ... well ...
very fake. Unfortunately, I am not talking about realistic 3-D
animation, but rather rounded-out versions of 1960s Japanese
cartoon characters. Imagine Speed Racer in 3-D.
As you can imagine, the poorly animated motion and
the silly cartoon characters make it very difficult to suspend your
disbelief throughout the film, and you'll never forget for a moment
that you're just watching a show. The problem is compounded a
dozenfold by the fact that the live actors perform with a hollow
pretentious style, as if they don't understand the words they are
speaking. This has the impact of eliminating the realistic
characterization that actors normally provide with their voices and
replacing it with a constant faux-poetic intonation, as if the
actors were reciting English phonetically. Imagine Murder in the
Cathedral performed by non English speakers, and rendered in
Oh, boy! Let me try.
A flying pyramid hovers over New York City in
2095. Within that odd vehicle, the Egyptian God Horus sleeps. He is
awakened by his fellow gods Bast and Anubus, and is given seven days
to experience the earth which he created, after which he will be put
to death, for reasons not clear to me.
Needless to say, he plans to use those seven days
getting laid. This serves two purposes. First, it allows him to
implant his seed for his next resurrection. More important, it's
fun. Actually, I'm kidding. There is no sense of fun in the movie at
all. At any rate, his plans will require a male human body for him
to occupy and a female human body ... um ... for him to ... you know
Most of the humans of that time have been
synthetically altered by an evil corporate entity called Eugenics,
and Horus really isn't into the whole artificial body thing, so he
needs the body of one of the resistance fighters who conduct an
underground campaign against Eugenics. He discovers an ex-con named
Nikopol who seems perfect for the job. Nikopol/Horus determines that
the perfect host for the seed of Horus is a human named Jill, who
seems to be some kind of genetic mutation, possessing power even she
does not understand ...
The actress playing Jill is Linda Hardy. According
to her bio, she was Miss France in 1992. If that is true, she
is either very heavily made up to look tired and used up, or she has
been shooting heroin non-stop since the end of the Miss France
The film has some great moments because of some
sublime conceptualization and art design. Unfortunately, that was
ruined by technical ineptness, an incoherent plot line, weak acting,
and pretentious comic book dialogue. It's a fairly cool movie that cudda been a
contenda, but isn't.