‘Immortals’ tries to be the most macho film since ‘Predator’ and gets about as close to achieving that aim as I ever get to a gym. It wants to be the lovechild of ‘The Rock’ and ‘Rambo’ and raised by every single Clint Eastwood movie ever made. Instead, it manages to become the embarrassing cousin of all of the most hateful parts of ‘Blazing Saddles’ and 1960s-era James Bond movies.
First off, this film is completely fucking gay. I don’t mean that in a homophobic, “being gay is like being different and is therefore bad and funny” sense – I mean it in the sense that John Barrowman – that’s John Fucking Barrowman – saw this film and said “Wow, that’s pretty gay.” I mean it in the sense that Elton John, wearing full wedding regalia, watched this film and said “Wow, that was a bit extravagant, wasn’t it?” I mean it in the sense that Graham Norton watched ten minutes of this film and said “Wow, that’s the gayest thing I’ve seen today, and I just spent three hours watching a bunch of men fuck each other.”
You might think I’m exaggerating, and being fairly hateful myself, but let’s have a look, shall we?
I mean, this is a film that features people cutting their own tongues out with rusty shears. It features at least four throat-slittings, about nine litres of blood, people being burned alive, a bloke having his testes mashed with a hammer, it’s got several breasts on display – the film tries so very hard to be as tough and “manly” as Burt Reynolds chewing a nail-covered brick, yet packs in so many flamboyant, ridiculous visuals that its tone is entirely sporadic at best and self-contradictory at worst. Christ, they even introduce an all-powerful bow, and denote it as “magical” by covering it in glitter.
The star of it all is the finely-sculpted slab of physical prowess named Henry Cavill, playing the legendary Theseus. There would have been plenty of room to have another powerful male lead – let’s say Mark Strong, as a dreamy example – and have the two of them go around killing everything in sight and occasionally penetrating one another, and it would have been the most macho film since Arnold Schwarzenegger said “Fuck it, just record two hours of me lifting weights, shooting Russians and smoking cigars.”
But the bewildering combination of high-camp regalia and absent homosexuality is hardly the most significant of ‘Immortals’ problems – and it’s not even much of a problem unless you’re a hardcore homophobe. No, much worse is its treatment of women.
There are six female characters with speaking lines throughout all of ‘Immortals’. I’ll list them below:
The mother of the protagonist, who is a victim of rape, and whose death serves to motivate said protagonist in his quest.
The goddess Athena, who is introduced topless, and who manages to kill a few goons before getting killed by a few goons.
The three sisters of the main love interest, all living in chastity, who get captured, abused, threatened with rape, and ultimately burned alive.
The main love interest, who achieves nothing, lives in chastity, and who asks to be “saved” by having the protagonist fuck her so she can be rid of her “curse”.
I mean, technically the love interest and her sisters initiate an escape-attempt, but given that it only leads to further violence against women, with added expressions of surprise that mere women were capable of overpowering unsuspecting men, I’m inclined to be unforgiving.
Oh, and what is it with fucking movie villains threatening women with rape all the time? Three movies I watched in the space of a couple of months, this, ‘Elysium’ and, I’m sad to say, ‘In Time’, and each one features a main antagonist threatening the leading female with sexual assault. I can only imagine that the conversations in the writers’ offices go something like this:
Scumbag Writer #1: “So, the bad guy has captured the woman, and now he wants to threaten her to get information. But what can he threaten her with?”
Weary Voice of Reason: “Death? Torture? Her family and friends? All the things that a male lead would be threatened with?”
Scumbag Writer #27: “Don’t be so gay, Frank, we can’t threaten a woman the way we’d threaten a man, that would suggest women have a stake in the story and are capable of possessing personalities.”
Scumbag Writer #14: “Derek’s right, if you’re going to threaten a woman, you’ve got to threaten her sexually, otherwise the audience might forget that the true value of a woman is based only on the things that she can offer to a man.”
Scumbag Writer #1: “Right, job’s a good’un everyone, let’s go down to the strip club and pay immoral sluts to show us their bodies and then threaten them when they refuse to touch us.”
The thing is, when you threaten someone with something, in a weird way you kind of normalise it – “this will be a consequence of you not doing what I want.” And whilst there might be a time when you need to say to someone “if you don’t stop trying to kill me I’m going to have to kill you”, there ought NEVER come a time when you might say to someone “if you don’t act according to my wishes, I will rape you.”
Or, cause you to “suffer discomfort unique to your gender”, as the film’s antagonist so charmingly phrases it. Which also implies that men can never be victims of sexual assault – another charming notion that this film espouses.
Hell, the whole concept of the main love interest’s only interesting feature is that she’s a “virgin oracle” – a woman who retains her powers only as long as she remains chaste. And whilst that in itself is a fairly nasty little idea in this day and age, it’s exacerbated when one of our actual protagonists describes it thusly:
“Were she to be violated, the prophecy would be corrupted.”
“Were she to be violated…” – it’s as though the concept of women willingly participating in sex in the world of ‘Immortals’ is completely alien. The only evidence we see of any consensual interaction is when the “virgin oracle” decides to sleep with the protagonist, and even that is explicitly described as him “doing her a favour.”
The fact is, ‘Immortals’ makes rape normal, ignores the existence of homosexuality and in general seems to be working hard to make the real world a worse place for all of us.
I’d love to be able to write more about the plot holes, stupid characterisations and silly costumes a little more. Things such as the visibly plastic armour, or frankly adorable pair of brass bunny ears that the antagonist wears to look intimidating. But there’s so little to this film beyond genuinely unsettling misogyny and absurd design choices that I’m left with nothing but empty anger.
Alright, I’m going to try something different. I’m going to do a running review of Ridley Scott’s ‘Robin Hood’ (2015). I remember seeing bits of it a while ago and not being too impressed, but maybe it deserves a little more attention. Got a bottle of wine and everything ready to go – let’s do this.
00:50 – Nice studio intros. Nice music. ‘Scott Free’ is always nice to see.
01:00 – Standard Olde Worlde text prologue. “The Outlaw takes his place in history.” DRAMATIC.
01:27 – Ooh, the moon!
02:00 – Somebody’s running. In Nottingham, apparently.
02:32 – Since when was Cate Blanchett a brunette?
02:57 – And why does she have a bow?
03:36 – She’s nailing the accent though. I think.
04:10 – More Olde Worlde text titles. Hang on, did they just spoil the plot of the film? Jesus.
05:00 – THERE’S Russell Crowe. He looks old. Wasn’t Robin Hood young? Why is Robin Hood old?
06:58 – Okay, why did that man immediately catch fire? Like, a fire arrow hit him, but he wasn’t all oily. What was it, a napalm arrow? I thought fire arrows were just bits of cloth soaked in a bit of oil. Like, not enough oil to immediately engulf a man in flames. Whatever.
07:20 – So far this castle assault has, like, all the elements of something that’s exciting, but I don’t know any of these characters. If one of them dies, am I meant to care? I don’t think I would care.
08:13 – Okay, I know FOR A FACT that bags of oil wouldn’t explode like that. I mean, not, like, scientific fact, but I’m pretty sure a bag of petrol wouldn’t fucking explode like that, and that’s PETROL. Also, paraffin can’t melt steel gates.
08:44 – Wow, London’s a shithole.
09:56 – Neat, it’s Poe Dameron. Erm, Oscar Isaac. No, wait, it’s fuckin’ Standard! Man, ‘Drive’ was a great movie. I loved the way all the lighting was done, every shot was like a Hopper painting. And the limited dialogue, and oh! The music! Oh, shit, ‘Robin Hood’ is still on.
11:36 – Okay, missed a bit there, but I think Standard Dameron is the king. Or will be the king. Also, his mother doesn’t approve of his girlfriend. But, hang on, his mother’s not Guatemalan, or South American at all, and neither’s King Richard, so why is… Wait, is is he Kind Richard’s son? Shit, film’s still going.
12:34 – King Richard kind of looks like Billy Connolly. Also I think the other dude is Cate Blanchett’s husband. Just about been paying enough attention.
14:39 – I know this is the “Dark Ages” but did they have to have a fight scene in pitch black? If I can’t see Russell Crowe punching people then why am I watching?
17:07 – The King’s done that thing that never actually happens except in movies and plays and reality TV shows and pretended to not be the king so that he could get kicked in the head and then shout at Robin Hood for doing what he was told. OR SOMETHING.
17:29 – Russell Crowe is now in the stocks. Sad times.
18:25 – Oooh, is that Mark Strong? He’s great. He was great in ‘The Guard’ and ‘Kingsman’ and ‘John Carter’ and just fucking every movie he’s in. What’s he doing with this French bloke?
19:31 – Ooooh, treachery. And Mark Strong being evil again. Standard.
20:45 – FUCK ME the King just got owned by the soup boy. Seems… unlikely. But I guess this is a documentary so what do I know.
21:53 – “The more the merrier.” I get it! Like, the Merry Men, right? Man, this movie is clever.
22:08 – Wow, for an archer, Robin Hood’s got a pretty good handle on regional economics. He must be clever, too.
22:53 – Some kind of ambush in the woods, but I don’t know who’s getting ambushed and I don’t know who’s doing the ambushing. Maybe it’s a bacon tree.
24:52 – Ohhhh, it was Cate Blanchett’s husband getting ambushed. It was so easy to tell because he’s so distinctive-looking and almost 30% of his face was uncovered by his helmet. Otherwise I would’ve been confused and would have needed him to say who he was. Also he had the crown? Like, that was the most urgent thing, not leading England’s army back to England, but getting the Crown back, yeah. Wait, wasn’t he the smart one? Shit, more movie.
25:14 – Robin Hood is apparently also a horse whisperer.
28:27 – That was an awkward death scene. Ol’ Dead Loxley made Robin promise to take his sword back to his father, but it was, like, really forced and conceited? None of the dialogue seemed natural. And then Loxley died literally once the deal was done. I guess the spear in his lung was waiting for the most dramatic point before doing the most damage.
30:26 – Is Robin Hood Irish or something? He kind of sounds Irish sometimes, but then other times he doesn’t sound so Irish. I’m confused.
30:39 – Fuckin’ Robert Baratheon! As a priest, it seems. Mark Addy’s wonderful.
32:05 – Cate Blanchett really knows how to do exposition.
35:26 – What a nice shot of a river. Visually, this film’s pretty good.
37:17 – Ooh, think I just saw William Hurt. Wait, aren’t there any British actors in this thing? ‘Pacific Rim’ was, like, 50% British, and that was the most American film I’ve seen ’cause it had nukes and punching. This film’s set in fucking Britain for Christ’s sakes and they’re all bloody Antipodean or American. God damn it.
40:58 – Poe John II isn’t a very nice king.
46:10 – In the last few minutes, Cate Blanchett has been sexually harassed by the Sheriff of Nottingham (bad guy) and Mark Strong (bad guy) has asked the big French dude from ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (bad guy) to kill Robin Hood and now Robin Hood has just sworn to go see the old Man of Nottingham and it’s all been a bit.. dull. It’s good that the bad guys all make clear how they’re bad guys and not good guys, though. This is a gritty, realistic retelling after all, so you need cartoonish villains so you know who not to root for.
47:10 – Oscar Isaac is a good actor. They’re all good.
51:14 – Now King Not The Nicest is being more less-nice. Apparently he’s a bit greedy. Still all a bit slow and dull.
51:33 – Did I take the bins out? Shit, not sure if I took the bins out. Eh, they’ll wait, it’s cold and wet outside.
53:30 – Why does Friar Tuck not think they’ve heard of mead? Hasn’t mead been around since, like… 2800-1800 BC? Man, I love Wikipedia. Also, those blokes would totally of heard of “what we call ‘Mead’.” What a plonker.
53:48 – Music’s quite nice.
54:05 – Yeah Robin, check out that fine Cate Blanchett arse. You can definitely appreciate it underneath that heavy woolen gown, and it is definitely distinguishable from many other things, like, say, a bag of clothes, or a sack of rocks, or my own arse in a heavy woolen gown.
54:45 – Why did the camera suddenly zoom in on her face like that? Like, we know that she’s finding out about her dead husband, we’ve been watching the movie, and we could already see her face clearly. That was weird.
56:51 – Is that Max von Sydow? I preferred BRIAN BLESSED.
58:29 – Okay, I hate to seem like some popcorn-munching mouth-breather in need of instant gratification, but it’s been almost twenty minutes since the last plot development. Can we have some pacing, at least, in this film? Like, even just a bit? We’re close to an hour in and all that’s really happened to our protagonist is that he’s escaped the army and picked up a sword.
58:45 – By this point in ‘Gladiator’ there’d been a lot more killing.
59:40 – Apparently Robin needs help with his armour but this is so transparently just and excuse to force some chemistry between the characters.
1:00:10 – He’s in good shape, mind.
1:02:58 – Okay, so Old Loxley wants Robin to pose as his dead son so the tax man won’t take away their home. Didn’t ‘Frasier’ have an episode with this exact plot?
1:06:28 – Much like Robin, I would love to be sat watching an open fire right now. It would probably have a deeper plot than this. Certainly more warmth. Aren’t Robin Hood stories meant to be exciting?
1:07:16 – These two have the same chemistry as Indie and that woman in ‘Temple of Doom’. By which I mean, they’re doing their best but nobody’s convinced.
1:10:51 – Robin is also a philosopher, apparently.
1:13:57 – Over half way in, we’ve just had Robin’s first instance of “Hoodliness” – he promised not to snitch on Mark Addy’s bees if… wait, if Mark Addy steals the grain? Basically, they’re stealing grain. Well, talking about stealing grain. Riveting.
1:15:55 – Okay, they nicked the grain. Pitch black, took ten seconds, two people got bonked on the head.
1:16:18 – Jesus, did Ridley Scott forget to pay his electricity bill or something?
1:18:15 – Apparently the Big French Dude From ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ just flat-out ignored Mark Strong, because he’s sat right there next to him, patently NOT killing Robin Hood. Or even trying. Villainous.
1:19:04 – Don’t got a battering ram? Two horses will break solid oak gates, apparently. If only I’d known that in all those games of ‘Medieval: Total War’.
1:33:16 – Wait, so, Robin’s dad was some great stone-mason-philosopher, and Old Loxley know all of this, and it just so happened that Robin was the one to escape Richard’s army, happen upon Young Loxley during the exact two minutes he was dying (in the middle of some French woods), happen to be the one Young Loxley asked to return his sword, managed to not die through any of this, now to be told his father’s history by the one man old enough to remember? Like, does that not seem like, y’know, A BIT OF A COINCIDENCE? Fuck, George fucking Lucas would be rolling his eyes at that one.
1:38:04 – That’s right, Robin, use the family heirloom that’s the cause of THE ENTIRE STORY as a hammer/crowbar. Probably fine. Don’t bother with the enormous fucking lump-axe your buddy’s holding. Just use a sword blade to lever up a masonry flag. Fucking pleb.
1:47:56 – Alright, did you really have to make the French guy a rapist? Like, he’s robbing people, killing civilians, his troops are burning people alive, does he also have to attempt to rape Cate Blanchett? I mean, they couldn’t show him actually raping her, that would be insensitive, but threatening her with it, that’s fine I guess. I mean, as a woman, I suppose it’s not enough to threaten her with death, like a man, since only men need to worry about death in films, and women only need to worry about getting raped. That’s how it works. Also, a villain isn’t a real villain unless they’ve doing the most villainous thing they can possibly be doing at every possible moment, which means if there’s men around, they must be killing those men, and if there’s women, they must obviously be attempting to (but not actually, because of sensitivity) raping them, and if they have a moustache, they must be twirling it, whilst wearing clothes made of puppy fur and talking at the theatre. Otherwise, there’s no way to be sure that they’re really villains.
Fuck this movie.
1:50:11 – Ooh, ooh, now Robin’s an expert cavalryman, capable of out-jousting men-at-arms! Wow, the archer-training program is pretty fucking comprehensive.
1:52:44 – Now they’re burning Old Loxley (he died, by the way), and for some reason it occurs to me that the only “Hoodly” things we’ve seen Robin “Hood” do this entire film is pinch some grain and carry out some really fucking minor-level vandalism.
1:53:25 – He’s got a really modern haircut, too. This annoys me, because I got a haircut today and she made my fringe look medieval.
1:53:53 – Why does he love her? They’ve had about four conversations, now they’re in love? Well, I suppose it wouldn’t do TO KISS SOMEONE WITHOUT BEING IN LOVE WITH THEM, WOULD IT?? FUCK ME.
1:58:18 – Why are the French charging out of their totally-non-anachronistic landing craft like this is Omaha fucking Beach? They’re just landing an army, not carrying out a beach assault. They thought they were landing in secret, too. There isn’t even an English army there yet! WHY ARE THEY ALL SHOUTING AND RAISING THEIR WEAPONS? AREN’T THEY MORE WORRIED ABOUT DROWNING? WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM?!?!?
1:58:57 – That boat flipped upside down, but, like, it’s not in the water, it’s hanging above the water, like it’s a rushed special effect or something. I mean, couldn’t you just capsize a boat? Why is the boat now hovering above the water? Oh, wait, I paused the movie. Still, though.
2:01:04 – No. No, I refuse to accept that Marion is somehow now a cavalywoman. She explicitly stated that she was a… I dunno, a minor noble widow’s daughter, or something, and since then has been farming. Modern-day women can do anything men can do, sure, but Medieval England, someone who is essentially a farmer’s wife is NOT going to be leading a cavalry unit into battle, that’s horseshit. It’s bad enough Robin doing it, but at least you can pretend he MIGHT have had some fucking experience in all the fucking wars he’s been in, but Marion has been fucking FARMING for the last TEN YEARS, HOW IS SHE SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE EXPERTISE TO RIDE A WARHORSE INTO BATTLE, IT’S NOT LIKE PLOUGHING A FIELD MARION, YOU MAD WOMAN, JESUS JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT. Ooh, that’s a “Robin” reference!
2:02:15 – THE TWELVE-YEAR-OLD ORPHAN PEASANTS ARE NOW TRAINED RIDERS TOO. JESUS. JESUS FUCK. FUCK ME. NO. NO. THIS IS, and I hate this word, BUT THIS IS RETARDED. FUCK. DO YOU KNOW HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO TRAIN TO RIDE A HORSE? AND THEN TO RIDE A HORSE INTO NOISY, CHAOTIC, TERRIFYING BATTLE? PRETTY FUCKING DIFFICULT, YOU STUPID CUNTS.
2:02:35 – The English didn’t have mounted archers. That wasn’t a thing. Unless it was. Was that a thing?
2:02:57 – Now the anonymous, unarmoured twelve-year-old who grew up in the woods is taking on two or three trained, armoured French soldiers at a time. This isn’t fucking ‘Bugsy Malone’, what the shit?
2:03:39 – Okay, fine, Cate Blanchett looks pretty badass in the armour. But it’s still stupid.
2:05:40 – After a moronic fight against Mark Strong, Robin just shot him. With a bow that he found floating in the water. Pretty sure trying to take a long-range shot with a soaking wet bow is a considered a poor tactical choice.
2:06:15 – Yeah, don’t worry about the battle, Robin, just keep snogging. You prick.
2:09:10 – Shit King IV just said he’s making Robin Hood an outlaw. Literally based on the last 20 seconds of the last scene where apparently the army were all cheering Robin for no particular reason. So now Robin Hood is an outlaw for no real reason. Wow. That’s satisfying.
2:09:26 – Here’s the sheriff again. What a cock.
2:09:47 – Yeah, he’s a cock.
2:11:34 – “And so the legend begins.” Wait, this was a fuckig ORIGIN STORY??? WHAT THE SHIT? THIS WHOLE THING JUST SO’S HE CAN BE CALLED “ROBIN OF THE HOOD” AT THE END? WHAT THE HELL. THAT’S SO STUPID. FUCK.
2:14:10 – What’s with all this stupid cartoon shit? I mean, it’s more exciting than the rest of the movie, but what the hell is it about? I DON’T UNDERSTAND.
This movie was boring and stupid. It replaces fun with “grittyness” and ends up being miserable, makes no sense, relies on huge coincidences to advance the plot and pretends it’s all historical and stuff but is about as historical as fucking ‘Back to the Future 3’.
What the fucking hell, Ridley Scott, what the fucking hell.