The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, November 14, 2011-7A
'J. Edgar' cleans up
Long live 'Immortals'
doesn't bring down
By AKSHAY SETH
Daily Arts Writer
What drives an ostensibly
paranoid and resentful little
man to become the most power-
in the world?
ing still, under J. Edgar
of morality does At Qualityl6
this man choose and Rave
to wield that
power? These Warner Bros.
are the seem-
ingly broad questions, as complex
at their core as they are meaning-
ful in scope, tackled in "J. Edgar,"
the biopic about the controversial
former head of the FBI.
Morality is a word thrown
around a lot in this movie.
And in a curious sort of way, J.
Edgar Hoover's interpretation
of the term is as flawed as the
film itself. One of those flaws
is the convoluted nature of the
script, which spans nearly seven
decades, jumping between the
latter parts of Hoover's life and
the FBI's formative years.
Traversing back and forth
from the '30s to the late '60s, the
audience gets a rather muted
but believable interpretation of
the two cases that vaulted the.
fledgling agency to nationwide
prominence: the execution of
John Dillinger and the capture
of Bruno Hauptmann, the man
charged with kidnapping and kill-
ing Charles Lindbergh, Jr.
Every frame onscreen is paint-
By MATT EASTON
Daily Arts Writer
"Immortals" is not a padded
sparring match - it's a street
brawl in which the winner is the
one willing to
go for the eyes,
crotch or both.
twists arms At Quality16
behind backs and Rave
"This ... is ... not Sparta!"
"Iceberg, dead ahead!"
ed with a striking palette of gray randomly between different seg-
and black, bringing to life some of ments of Hoover's life. Doing so
the darkest undertones that rever- allows the audience to witness the
berate through the script. Etched everlasting nature of the bureau
deep within the confines of Hoover built from the ground up,
Hoover's troubled persona, these but it becomes hard to digest in a
undertones are a result of the late movie lasting over two hours.
FBI director's inability to accept Despite inadequacies in the
who he is: a closeted homosexual. dialogue, Leonardo DiCaprio
As expected, Clint Eastwood's ("Inception") manages to deliver
("Million Dollar Baby") direction a powerhouse performance pitch
relies heavily on this emotional perfect in its encapsulation of
centerfold, using the relationship Hoover's tormented personality.
Hoover develops with his col- Cry as one may about the sup-
league Clyde Tolson (Armie Ham- posedly inaccurate or inconsis-
mer, "The Social Network") as an tent accent he employs, DiCaprio
anchor to ground this decades never leaves even the shadow of a
long tale. As he has in all of his doubt that he has left behind the
previous directorial efforts, East- pretty-boy character type that
wood works hard to weed out the once defined his career.
excessive cinematic frills so that At its heart, this film is about
natural human interactions can how a man struggled to fill a void
take center stage. in his identity through hisdevo-
Unfortunately, the weighty tion to country and work. Though
script, penned by Oscar winner he ended up one of the great-
Dustin Lance Black ("Milk"), is est tragic heroes of his time, the
just too muddled by its own den- movie chooses to dilute his story
sity to give these relationships with a bland mix of historical
any room to breathe. The movie context and stale writing. Regret-
never fully recovers from the poor tably, what results is a good film
scripting, like the decision to skip thathas all the makings of a great.
slowly Relativity Media In the world of swords and
s pain- sandals, the story often ends up
essure on just another corpse. "Immor-
sing bodies. This is Mixed tals" doesn't challenge the audi-
al Arts: Where "300" looked ence with plot, and thankfully
cartoon, this looks like it doesn't need to. Henry Cav-
cian statue. "Immortals" ill (TV's "The Tudors") plays
as a rectangle of rock, but Theseus, who must stop King
'low is a hammer chipping Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, "The
t the marble. Slowly a form Wrestler") from releasing the
s. The theater shakes. Titans and destroying Hellenic
society. Really though, it's all just
unimportant context for Singh
tonightwie to stage epic fistfights among
line on abs It's in the fighting where
"Immortals" finds its soul. Com-
batants collide like trucks and
everything is bone-crunching. It's
s is director Tarsem comparable to the scene in "Fast
s ("The Fall" - go watch Five" where Dwayne "The Rock"
ay into epic filmmaking. Johnson and Vin Diesel throw
in the sense of genre, down mano-a-mano, and each
mbition, since most works grapple provokes a flinch. It's like
rsem are in some sense a the warehouse scene in "Batman
of epic film. He possesses Begins," where Bruce Wayne sub-
for color, for composition. dues cronies with the ferocity of
At something that can be an Israeli Special Forces agent.
.Tarsem is an extravagant It's the kind of combat where the
ace Malick. Where Malick audience leaves feeling sore.
lizes in making a husk of The film's soundtrack is bones
look like the most won- breaking and bruises forming,
gift God has bestowed on and it's loud. Sleigh Bells loud.
arth, Tarsem specializes in Each blow is a wall of noise.
ng scenes that seem other- Poseidon falls from Mount Olym-
y. The two also share the pus roaring like an F-I5 engine.
'ault: weak storytelling. He hits the ocean, sending a tidal
wave at the enemies of Theseus.
It's oppressive - the sound con-
sumes the theater - and every-
one shrinksunder itsweight. But,
amazingly in this fog of sound,
the audience can still hear the
quiet breaths of the warriors. It's
a steady rhythm that constantly
reminds that these are people,
and they are struggling with the
trials as much as the audience.
They are gods, sons-of-gods and
heroes, but in the film still they
bleed, sweat and die.
"Immortals" is a film about
brutality. It's not perfect and at
times it can horrible. Some dia-
logue promotes the same cringes
as the vicious actions of Hyper-
ion - people won't be quot-
ing "Immortals" like they did
"300." There are no classics like,
"Tonight we dine in Hell!"
The moments of pure animal
fury give "Immortals" its immor-
tal qualities. In the heat of battle
characters lay wild-eyed on the
thighs. Gods yell, but you can
handly pick up the words - you
hear the strain in the god's voice,
the dripping of sweat, the crum-
bling of monuments, the steady
time has come. If epic filmmaking
should make you feel small, then
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