Immortal (2004), or Are You Real Or Digital?

19 01 2009
Yes, that New York City. Yes, thats a floating pyramid. What of it?

Yes, that's New York City. Yes, that's a floating pyramid. What of it?

Greetings and salutations! Today we take another dip into the far-side with a sci-fi fantasy romp! No matter how many flops the genre has produced, I will always have a soft spot for fantasy and sci-fi. It’s about exploring new ideas, breaking new ground. Even if some of the ideas have been rehashed, you can almost always find something new and exciting in those stories. I am a lifelong fan. 2005 was the year the final Star Wars movie come out. I was there that opening night. 2003 was the year The Matrix Revolutions came out. I took every punishing second of it. 2000 was the year the Dune miniseries came on the Sci-fi Channel. I taped all 265 minutes. We all have similar stories. And although my tastes have since matured since then, I will always be up for a sci-fi or fantasy movie, which is relevant because today we have a very sci-fi flick on our hands.

Immortal, or Immortel (ad vitam), depending on your druthers and your nationality, is a 2004 French film about New York City in the year 2095. Science and technology have evolved exponentially, regular folks like you and I are living side-by-side with genetically enhanced humans, and a giant pyramid hovers over the city (?) housing the gods of ancient Egypt (??). Wasn’t expecting that last one, were ya? Well, the gods of old are idicting one of their own, Horus, and stripping his immortality. Before they do, he has seven days to exist as a god before his gift of ever-lasting life is taken from him. The catch is is that he may retain his immortality (in a manner of speaking) if he can find a suitable mate with a human host body. So off he goes to find both a host and a mate. Meanwhile, in the city, a mysterious woman named Jill is arrested. She is a very strange woman with blue hair and blue tears. She is special in ways that she does not fully comprehend, as she does not know her true identity. Aided by a doctor fascinated by her very being, she scours the city, looking for who she truly is. Believe it or not, these two stories are destined for a collision course, and the results of such a meeting could have dire effects on New York City circa 2095.

Get ready for an odd-fest, folks! You got it all in this one. You have super-powers, you have a force-field in Central Park that kills anyone trying to enter, you have Egyptian gods playing Monopoly. Be prepared for an assault on common sense. This is sci-fi leaning towards fantasy, and all realism is thrown out the window at the drop of a hat. And I am perfectly at ease with that. If you are not a fan of high fantasy, go do something constructive with your time. This is not the one for you.

This film is loosely based on the French graphic novel La Foire aux Immortels (or The Carnival of Immortals) and is actually directed by the creator of the graphic novel, Enki Bilal, which means he must not have thought his own work to be very filmable, because apparently much of this film is changed from the story of said graphic novel. He does an admirable job, though many of his shots are rudimentary, and I would have liked to see a more dynamic use of the camera on a movie so charged with weirdness.

One neat thing about this movie is that it is a mix of CG people and effects mixed with real people and effects. There are scenes that feature almost exclusively real people and props and vice-versa, and I often found those to be the obvious ones to spot what was real and what was fake. What makes it fun is when CG characters interact with real people. That is where it becomes difficult to divide the two. Try spotting the obvious and not-so-obvious special effects in this movie! It’s fun!

The story is interesting, I’ll give it that. It sucks you in, making you guess at what its real game is at. Unfortunately, the characters, and this goes across the board when it comes to fantasy and sci-fi usually, are pretty one-dimensional (ironic considering some of them belong in another dimension). I wasn’t concerned with anybody at anytime. Even the heroin Jill was so badass I wasn’t too worried about her. But I will say that when the movie chooses to be smart, it can surprise you (watch for Jill going through bouts of intelligence).

I’ll keep this one short, because this is in many ways a niche movie. If you like this sort of thing, which I do, you will leave feeling mildly to nominally entertained. If you do not like this kind of thing, you will not even attempt to watch it. It is so hyper-colored with oddity and strange, you will be turned off within the first five minutes. But the CG is very good for its time, and the story is learned on occasion. I recommend it if you are a fan of comics, graphic novels, and all those books that don’t require you to read too much (I kid graphic novels! I love ’em!). But as a movie unto itself, I give Immortal 7 divine Monopoly boards out of 10.

See you tomorrow for another PSA! This one is not gonna be so easy for me, because I’ll be taking on one of the stranger films I’ve seen, Southland Tales ! Can I survive? Find out next time!!!