Immortals

When you watch a Tarsem Singh film, you figure out pretty damn quickly that you’re watching a Tarsem Singh film. The auteur filmmaker isn’t the type to play it safe, and he’s clearly not afraid of polarizing an audience. Even with his modern take on the classic Snow White fairy tale, Mirror Mirror, he goes for an unabashedly childlike and wacky tone – which may not be for everyone. Tarsem’s films are rather similar to his persona: unfiltered, without any hint of compromise. This is the third time I have spoken with Tarsem in the past year, and although heaps of ground can be covered with him in mere minutes, courtesy of his rapid conversational style, it was a real treat to finally have an actual conversation with the filmmaker. Tarsem is one of a kind in terms of his filmmaking and demeanor. Whether you love or despise his films, the man is certainly an original. Here’s what Tarsem Singh had to say about polarization, the goal of not being different for the sake of being different, and the glory days of hanging with the college versions of Michael Bay and Zack Snyder:

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Drinking Games

Fans of sword-and-sandal action flicks have plenty of options these days. Whether they’re watching Spartacus or Game of Thrones on television or anticipating the upcoming Wrath of the Titans this spring, there’s a lot of CGI bloodshed happening. The latest thing to hit DVD and Blu-ray is Immortals, which was a surprise hit at the box office last November. Telling the story of commoner Theseus who goes up against King Hyperion to earn his people freedom, this film can also be seen as Superman facing off against Whiplash from Iron Man 2. It can also be seen as a big, oily orgy of abs and nipples. And anyone interested in a big, oily orgy of abs and nipples should really have a few drinks during the experience.

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As we all sit here at Reject HQ, gathered around an absurdly long, but incredibly imposing, table discussing what to do with the nuclear missiles we just “creatively appropriated” from a breakaway Russian republic, it occurs to us that 2011 was a great year to be bad. For every boring, dopey, goody-good hero that popped up on the silver screen, there was a brilliant, super cool, woefully misunderstood villain doing everything he/she/it could to thwart the zero hero at every turn. So when Supreme Commander #1, better known to the world (and those pesky Avengers so they’ll stop blasting our lair) as Neil Miller, issued an official order (delivered by a specially-trained, fire-breathing, gun-toting alligator who lives in the moat) to construct a supersonic death ray…that assignment went to Kate “Femme Fatale” Erbland. But then I got asked to do this list of the 20 Best Villains of 2011, a decided promotion from my usual position as sinister cocktail-fetcher and cleaner of the diabolical gutters.

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The Reject Report

There are only a few proven constants in the known universe. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, mixing Pop Rocks and Pepsi in your stomach will cause you to burst from the inside out (actually, this one hasn’t been proven), and the Twilight movies make a crap ton of money. And here we are again, ladies and germs, at the period of the box office year when Twi-hards feast their ever-loving eyes on yet another one. But this isn’t just another Twilight movie. This is the beginning of the end, the first of a two-parter that finishes off the franchise for good. Or, at least, until they reboot. I’m guessing it’ll make some dough this weekend. Aren’t you? It’s the Reject Report, and teen angst is eternal. At least, that’s what teens tell me.

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Immortals Box Office

The Gods have spoken, and what they’ve said is, “We want your money, puny human movie goers.” It makes you wonder what kind of movies Gods watch. Definitely the works of George P. Cosmatos. Cobra and Tombstone and the like. You know, because he’s Greek. Moving on from that lead balloon attempt at humor, Immortals rocketed skyward, shocking box office analysts who had it pegged to debut somewhere between $15-20m. Instead, it ended up pushing that number on Friday alone, and it was clear early on in the weekend that the epic war movie was going to take the top spot on the chart. It even ended up topping the opening weekends of similar war epics like Prince of Persia ($30m opening weekend) and Robert Zemeckis’ Beowulf ($27.5m opening weekend). It was, however, unable to beat 300’s 2007 $70.8m opening weekend, a number that allowed Immortals to even exist in the first place.

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Immortals Director Tarsem Singh

One of my favorite experiences at Comic-Con this year was interviewing Tarsem. I was never scheduled to speak with the man one-on-one, and was only meant to participate in the roundtables for Immortals. Luckily, after the roundtables were coming to an end, I noticed Tarsem standing alone by himself. He mentioned how most people find The Fall to be the biggest piece of shit or the best thing ever made, and I fall heavily in the latter, so I decided to tell him that. Tarsem was so receptive to a basic compliment, he gave me an interview on the spot. Whenever a publicist tried to drag him away, he’d basically tell them to buzz off since I said I love The Fall. I left that encounter with a big grin on my face, to say the least. This time around, my chat with Tarsem started off on the same fun note as our previous encounter, but ended on a more disappointing note. Last week when we spoke, I had not seen Immortals. That type of interview is never ideal, but I didn’t want to miss the chance to speak with Tarsem again, who I guessed was knee-deep in Mirror, Mirror. Once he found at I hadn’t seen the film, he demanded the publicist to reschedule… which, unfortunately, didn’t happen, for one reason or another. Currently, I’m left with another hundred questions left I wanted to ask Tarsem. Then again, any amount of time with the fast-talking director is more than appreciated. Here’s what Tarsem […]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr goes to war. He strips down to his muscular awesomeness and shimmies into a codpiece. After applying a solid gold breastplate, he’s too exhausted to actually go to war, so he heads to the local movie cinema to catch Immortals, wondering if Isabel Lucas has ever eaten a carbohydrate in her life. Then he slips into a housedress and sneaks into an early screening of J. Edgar. After a quick nap, he tries to escape the horror that is Jack and Jill, but alas, that did not happen. You can send him care packages now, courtesy of his local mental institution.

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Henry Cavill and Frieda Pinto in Immortals

Oh, Tarsem, that one-name wonder. Tarsem blew the doors off with his first film, the 2000 thriller The Cell, starring Jennifer Lopez of all people. He brought his music video past and introduced the film world to his visually striking signature style. While you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who’d call The Cell a great film, you’d be just as hard-pressed to find someone who wouldn’t give at least some credit to the visuals. The Cell presents the inside of a killer’s mind with incredible flair. It is nightmarish and enveloping, and when Tarsem decided to write and direct his next feature, we knew what to expect. The Fall certainly lived up to those expectations, pairing Tarsem’s skill in painting visual portraits with a compelling story. So there are certainly more expectations going into Tarsem’s third feature film, this weekend’s Immortals.

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Last month the Oscar season officially kicked off, and this month we’ll be getting plenty more Oscar baiters and real contenders to add to the mix. We’ll get another Brett Ratner film, the 25th film of the decade from Clint Eastwood, another upbeat audience friendly film from Lars von Trier, and the most expected and clichéd, a Martin Scorsese “kids” film. A fairly promising month, right? I’ve already seen a few films coming out this month, and there’s plenty of good-to-great films to see, even one or two that didn’t make it on this list. Honorable Mentions: My Week with Marilyn (an extremely enjoyable film with a great performance by Kenneth Branagh), Elite Squad: The Enemy Within, and London Boulevard (a solid anti-cliché gangster film). But here are the names who made it all the way to the top ten:

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Director Tarsem Singh (or, as he tends to go by, just the single and crazy chic “Tarsem”) has just two features under his belt (The Cell and The Fall), yet he is already known for his distinct visual style that places a premium on color and costuming. It seemed like a no-brainer that the helmer would get picked up for a 300-styled flick with a historical setting. Thus, Immortals. We got a look at the film’s teaser back in April, then Tarsem himself talked to Jack about it during Comic-Con, but the actual plot of Immortals has remained relatively veiled. Tarsem told Jack that the film is “a big epic journey,” but what the hell does that actually mean?

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On the final big movie day for Comic-Con, Cole, Robert and Jack had their sanity tested and almost passed. Proof of this came at the end of the night when all three ended up delirious in a fancy hotel room watching the Resident Evil movies. What on earth could cause anyone to watch those movies? Exactly. This year’s Con was subdued in a great way. The movie content suffered because of it (in terms of blockbusters and big moments) but it also triumphed because smaller films were able to have their day in the sun. Day One was full of great toys and strange Twilight moments, Day Two had R-rated pizza guys and a Spielbergian explosion, so what did Day Three have in store?

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“Coming this fall: an action event from the director of The Cell and The Fall.” Yeah, it still sounds odd to me, too. Once it was announced that Tarsem would be tackling a big swords and sandals epic, it elicited a feeling of both excitement and confusion. As for the exciting part — wouldn’t it be interesting to see how such a visionary can put a spin on this genre and what he could do with an action beat? As for the confusion — isn’t this a big studio picture? With epics such as this, directors have countless people to answer to. But Tarsem didn’t seem interested in answering to those people. This a director that couldn’t have a greater distaste for by-the-numbers filmmaking. As he says below, he’s a polarizing filmmaker. Both The Cell and The Fall received both wild appraise and heaps of venom. Can Tarsem still bring that interesting polarization to a sizable fall release? From the sound of it, yes, he can. When I approached Tarsem to discuss The Fall and wish him luck on Immortals, the very funny and honest filmmaker ended up giving me a quick and unplanned 1-on-1 about not dealing with studio suits, his work ethic with actors, and the methods of Mickey Rourke.

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The comparisons to 300 will be inevitable, so let’s just get them out of the way. Yes, the teaser for Immortals makes it look an awful lot like 300 (and the “From the Producers of 300” bit only amplifies it), but it looks like a far more visually dynamic version. Snyder’s movie looked amazing, but Singh has a more varied palette and a bigger paint brush, so everything here seems a bit more vibrant instead of automatically being washed out in sepia tones and blood reds. Those are definitely still there, though. This teaser is intense, and it showcases Singh’s best strengths as a filmmaker: his eye for production design. Check it out for yourself and get your blood flowing:

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the hero you need right now; a way to get all the most interesting movie news without having to read through a bunch of padded articles. It’s quick, to the point and personable. An efficient killer of your will to waste time reading a thousand movie blogs before you go to bed. It’s also way into girl power, whatever that means. Hanna director Joe Wright, whose latest film is filled with the legitimate girl-power of a teen assassin played by Saoirse Ronan, has called out director Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch, saying that the girl-power angle of the film was all “marketing bullshit.”

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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