Comic-Con 2011: IMMORTALS Panel Recap; Tarsem Talks 3D Visuals and Screens Fight Scene Footage

     July 23, 2011

Tarsem Singh’s Immortals had a presentation at WonderCon in April and you can check out my recap of that panel here.  For those who don’t know, the film has been compared to 300 due its highly-stylized re-telling of Greek myth (and yes, I know 300 was based on Greek history, not mythology).  The story centers on Theseus (Henry Cavill) who is called upon by the gods (Luke Evans as Zeus; Isabel Lucas as Athena) to fight the conquering menace of King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and his bunny rabbit helmet of doom.   But Comic-Con’s Hall H is a much bigger stage, we’re closer to the release date (November 11th), and I was eager to see how much new stuff I was going to see.  I also wanted to see how many Man of Steel questions Cavill could duck.

Hit the jump for my recap of the Immortals panel.

Singh, producers Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari come on stage.  Singh says the tone of the movie is darker than what the trailers have shown and the footage we’re about to see prove that.  We then get to the new footage and this is the first time I’ve seen scenes from the film in 3D.  It looks good and Tarsem, a director who likes to fill the frame, seems suited to the format.  The footage we saw is also a lot bloodier (CGI blood, but lots of it).  We see giant hammers smashing skulls, tridents decapitating monsters, and we see Theseus fighting a minotaur.

immortals-movie-poster-theseusCast members Freida Pinto, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, Kellan Lutz, and Henry Cavill come on stage.  Cavill said he was interested in the project because he’s always been fascinated by ancient Greece but Tarsem really drew him to the project.  Lutz says that as Poseidon, he’s the “God of Wetness” and that he loves his character.  Evans says playing Zeus as a young man was a new slant on the role, but it makes sense because if you were a God you would want to look young.  Dorff plays Stavaros, a slave who meets Theseus on a slave trade and decides to join up with him on his quest.  He adds that having someone as hot as Pinto around helps the horny Stavaros to make that decision.

Tarsem said he was drawn to the project because he was fascinated with the idea of gods.  He’s been an atheist since he was nine and his mother is deeply religious.  His mother would tell him, “Why do you think you’re so successful?  It’s because I’ve been praying for you!” Tarsem said he wanted to explore the question of what to do with all the suffering in the world and how free will factors in.  He then jokes that when he dies and meets God, God will tell him, “You idiot.  Your mother was praying for you all the time.”

We’re now going to see some 2D footage from a fight near the end of the movie.  In the scene, Zeus and four of his Olympian soldiers go into a giant mountain and battle a bunch of scrappy, ashen-skinned soldier-monsters.  The choreography of the battle is neat, but because the creatures are CG and spew CG blood, I was just thinking about God of War the whole time.  I was waiting for a giant “X” button to appear on screen.  At the end of the battle, Zeus, who is the only one left standing, climbs to the top of a cube, picks up some ropes, and pulls on them to bring down the mountain while a battle rages outside.

Tarsem says that with 3D, it’s a cart and you don’t put it in front of the donkey.  He admits that his style lends itself to 3D and that he composed for with 3D in mind so don’t expect a post-converted mess like Clash of the Titans.  Tarsem explains that his static shooting style works much better for 3D than the moving, shaky camera used by other 3D films.  He also says they used a lot of practical sets because it helps blends with the heavily stylized costumes.  He says that he doesn’t start with a good script but he with a good visual and hopes a good story falls in.  He sits down with actors and tells them “This is what I have in mind.”  However, the fighting is turned over to a CGI crew.  He shot the fight we saw with real actors and then shot it with a computer model.

Cavill says the most difficult thing in filming is always staying in peak physical condition.  He jokes that it wasn’t too difficult for Lutz because “he’s always in shape.”  Pinto says she always had a good time filming although she adds “I know what Tarsem is thinking about.”  She does say that it’s difficult to go away for ten days from set and then come back and get into the headspace of a zen priestess.  Tarsem says the first scene that was shot was the sex scene, there was no dialogue, and Pinto and Cavill got in the bed and it was great.

immortals-image-01Evans says that his powers in this film aren’t thunderbolts and lightning, but he’s more resourceful and uses chains, but he also has a whip of fire.  In the fight scene we saw, he also uses a giant mallet.  Lutz jokes that to prepare for Poseidon, he watched a lot of The Little Mermaid.  However, he never honestly answers the question (which is admittedly kind of a lame question).  He also refers to the character again as “The God of Wetness”, which sounds slightly creepy and slightly like an ad for moisturizer.

Tarsem says we won’t see all of the Greek gods because “I could only muster up so many good-looking guys.”  There will only be about five in the film.  We then see the fight scene again and the panel ends.

Immortals is still a toss-up in terms of whether or not it will be a good story, but the potential is certainly there.  I was a little dismayed by the fight scene but it might look better in 3D (I can’t believe I wrote that).  The visuals are clearly spectacular and the film may be worth seeing simply for that.  I should note that I don’t think the panel really energized the audience.  Not a lot of people lined up for questions (I think because the moderator told folks that they shouldn’t ask about non­-Immortals projects) and I think they re-showed the fight scene simply to kill some time.  The panel also ended ten minutes early.  While the producers and the studio are trying to draw a 300 comparison to get folks interested, Immortals may be a tougher sell than I originally thought.

Click here for all our Comic-Con 2011 coverage.

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