Starring: Linda Hardy, Thomas Kretschmann, Charlotte Rampling, Fr??ic Pierrot, Thomas M. Pollard
Director: Enki Bilal
Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC
Run Time: 102 min


It is New York, one hundred years in the future. A mysterious giant pyramid has materialized out of thin air and floats ominously above the city. Below there have been several mysterious murders
- are the two related?


The culprit seem to be Horus, yes, the Horus from ancient Egyptian mythology. It seems that those whacked-out New Age nuts were right after all and that the Egyptian gods are actually all-powerful aliens and they've dropped in for their first visit in several thousand years so that Horus can get his rocks off with a mortal girl . . .

Yup, that's right: it seems that as always all the gods are really interested in is getting it on with some comely mortal maiden. Except in this case the girl in question is a white-skinned blue-haired mutant, and Horus has to possess a guy named Nikopol who has been in suspended animation for the past few decades to make it all happen. Or something like that.

If some of this seems vaguely familiar to you, then maybe you've read the graphic novels by Enki Bilal on which this French sci-fi effort is vaguely based. Bilal is also the director of the film and this was probably a mistake since while the material might have worked on the printed page, on celluloid it has no flow and is difficult to follow.

In fact for a lot of the running time, Immortal is simply incomprehensible. It throws up a myriad of subplots and characters it never comes back to again. Instead of sticking to the main story, we are given some fascinating glimpses of this future world, but these glimpses are never explained and the viewer is simply left to scratch his or her head in bewilderment.

Almost as distracting as the confusing plot is the way the film was made. Immortal, along with Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, is one of the first movies to have been made using live actors against a backdrop of computer-generated scenery. Like Sin City and Revenge of the Sith there are practically are no physical sets in any real sense of the word.

Immortal however goes one step further by using digitized human actors as well as real life ones. Why they did this is unclear ? maybe they couldn't afford any more actors (but they could afford voice talent, and is computer CPU time really that much cheaper?) - because the ultimate net effect is simply distracting. It's fine when you digitize alien characters like this, but human ones? Why not make the entire movie computer generated like Kaena or Final Fantasy then?

Ultimately Immortal is a failure, but an interesting one. The film's cityscape and hardware (taken directly from Bilal's comics) are gorgeous to look at even when the CGI looks painfully obvious. Sci-fi fans will go gaga over them, and the film is definitely unusual in that doesn't simply want to be an SF action film. But watching it I often thought that I'd care a lot more about what was happening if I actually knew what was going on.

THE DISC: Some previews and two almost identical making of features. The features omit info such why it was decided to blend human and CGI characters in the first place. It also neglects to mention the movie's origins as a set of graphic novels.

WORTH IT? Fans of Bilal's work and architectural fetishists should want to check it out despite the film's narrative weaknesses.



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