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Immortal (Mark's Take)

01/02/2006. Contributed by Mark R. Leeper

Buy Immortal in the USA - or Buy Immortal in the UK

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In 2095 New York the Egyptian God Horus possesses a male human in order to procreate with a female alien. A Métal Hurlant sort of story is wedded to Métal Hurlant sort of visual images. The visuals may be temporarily very impressive, but the film really offers very little in story value. When it is all over, Mark thinks we are supposed to feel we have seen something momentous, but he doesn't think he knows exactly what.

It is rare that a film offers so much to see and so little to think about. We look at a CGI world made of ones and zeros watching a story made mostly of zeroes.

Rating: 0 (-4 to +4) or 4/10.

I have to get this down quick. If I wait an hour, I think I will have forgotten most of this movie I saw. It is slipping away even as I write. I know I am not going to remember the film for long. I guess that is ironic for a film called Immortal. But take my word for it there is nothing very immortal about Immortal. These days the lines between animated and live action film are falling away. Immortal is mostly animated, though some of the main characters are live-action.

Everything but these characters is generated in a computer, much like SKY CAPTAIN AND THE WORLD OF TOMORROW and SIN CITY. And visually this film may even be in their league. Though the visual images may be a little on the pretentious side the imagination of New York City in 2095 is frequently very beautiful and surreal. Images are plucked from many different time periods. But that is about all that is nice. Certainly the plot is not going to sell the film, if I can remember it.

The film is a French-Italian-British co-production based on a graphic novel by Serbian cartoonist Enki Bilal. Bilal wrote and directed this film. It seems like an elaborate chapter of HEAVY METAL. It has a sort of comic book plot with paper-thin characters.

A pyramid appears over New York City and materializing out of the side comes the Egyptian god Horus. Horus has the head of a hawk and the body of a Greek god (if that is not mixing my metaphors). He can make himself all hawk, but he cannot make himself all human. Unfortunately he needs to be all-human for his mission, so he possesses Alcide Nikopol. Now I believe Nikopol is a continuing Bilal character.

Here Nikopol is played by Thomas Kretschmann, who went on to play Captain Englehorn in the recent KING KONG. Why does Horus need to be all-human? He needs to procreate with a beautiful alien woman who has blue scales for hair and who has turned up mysteriously in New York City. This woman does not know her origins as is being treated by a psychiatrist or psychologist or something played by Charlotte Rampling.

The background world is where most of Immortal's interest comes from. Images and animation are the point of the film. There is, in this world, a popular movement protesting eugenics. I am not sure even that makes sense. People might protest actions done in the name of eugenics but are unlikely to protest eugenics itself. It is similar to the fact people might protest actions done in the name of security but are unlikely to protest security itself. Other ideas thrown into the mix almost as throwaways seem to come from a Philip K. Dick sort of paranoia.

This is a world where bathroom fixtures talk, but seem to do so in their own language so it does you no good, even if you could image a good that talking bathroom fixtures could render. Details are clever and funny at times, but it does not make up for the fact that the story is slow and tedious and there is no reason to care about the characters. This is all working toward some cosmic event that is taking place, but what that event is really is a MacGuffin.

This mostly animated film wants to be a unique and surreal experience, but Bilal needed to worry more about the story. I rate Immortal a 0 on the -4 to +4 scale or 4/10.

Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 2006 Mark R. Leeper

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