Originally released in France, Immortal (or Immortel (ad vitam) as its entry reads on IMDb) is a 2004 film that has been brought over to the U.S. by First Look Pictures. Although the film received a DVD release back in 2005, a budget Blu-ray release is set for release just in time for the holiday season. Of course the film won’t appeal to everyone; the story can be incredibly hard to follow and becomes almost convoluted at times, but anyone who is a fan of such sci-fi will no doubt be intrigued by the story and visuals that this story presents.
New York City, year 2095. A floating pyramid has emerged in the skies above, inhabited by ancient Egyptian Gods. They have cast judgment down upon Horus (a falcon-headed god), one of their own. With only seven days to preserve his immortality, he must find a human host body to inhabit, and search for a mate. In the city below, a beautiful young woman, Jill, with blue hair, blue tears, and a power unknown even to her, wanders the city in search for her identity aided by a doctor who is fascinated by this mystery of nature. Reality in this world has a whole new meaning as bodies, voices and memories converge with Gods, mutants, mortals and extra terrestrials. Stunning visual effects meld with poetic surrealism of comic-book creator Enki Bilal’s fantastic epic story. A ground-breaking step into the future of film-making.
I’m not well versed in French cinema by any means, so I let out a “what the—“followed by an expletive (of your choice really, any will do) when I first held this movie. By now receiving strange films is old hat, but with First Look Studios it’s unfortunately never easy to tell just what the hell you’re going to get. They’ve distributed such a wide variety of disappointment over the years that I didn’t know what to expect from this one. It didn’t help that I couldn’t find this film on IMDb at first, but after discovering its original origins I became more intrigued by it. I’ve seen bizarre futuristic films of this kind before, but they were often American productions which were just convoluted and stupid. This French production, however, was just convoluted and strange. I hesitate to label it as “stupid” as that could backfire and reveal that I myself was too stupid to understand what was going on, but…really…what the hell was up with this film?
It wasn’t necessarily a bad film to watch in the least, but holy crap was it confusing. The mixture of plot elements in this film is enough to fill up a trilogy’s worth of backstory, but we’re force fed it here in a matter of hours. From what I could gather it’s about an ancient god who impregnates a woman so that his race can continue, all the while she is a strange mutant who is downing blue pills (is that why her hair is blue?) because her mentor says so. Quite frankly I’m not even sure if that is the plot, but after frequent pausing and rewinding of this film that’s the best idea I can come up with.
If you can’t grasp the plot, don’t worry—there is a lot more to this film to take up your time. One area that kept me so interested was simply how wonderful it looked. A mixture of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (which I ironically just saw for the first time before watching this film) and Blade Runner (and possibly a bit of Stargate if you want to throw in a reference for the Egyptian god culture). Simply put the film looks quite remarkable and has a very nice visual quality to it all.
Overall I may still not be 100% certain about what I just watched, but Immortal is a visually enticing outing in the very least. It’s worth a Rental if you’re a fan of the genre, but otherwise I’d just skip it. It’s just a bit too wrapped up itself to really let the viewer on just what is happening, which can make viewing it incredibly awkward.
First Look Studios has stuffed this disc inside of standard Elite Blu-ray case and given the film a 1080p AVC encoded 1.85:1 visual transfer. Due to the fact that you’ll mainly be watching this film for the visuals for the most part, this transfer is key in your enjoyment of the film and I have to say First Look really did a superb job on it. Although it can get a bit dreamily/hazy looking, it’s still a great transfer that looks stunning in HD. On top of the visuals, the English TrueHD 5.1 track sounds brilliant as well, with great use of surrounds and LFE output. I was genuinely impressed by how great this film looked and sounded (although it’s obviously dubbed, despite being produced in English…strange), especially since it’s going for such a low price ($11.99 on Amazon as of this writing). Keep in mind when watching the film that subtitles are not enabled by default, so if you want to know what the gods are saying, then I recommend you flick this on whenever they’re on the screen. At first I just thought we were supposed to imagine what they were saying, but while turning the subtitles on accidentally I found that no, they did have actual dialogue. One more thing to make the film less confusing discovered!
The extras for this release include two featurettes, both of which are a bit fluffy in nature. Although the interviews for both featurettes were supposedly done separately, there seems to be a bit of information overlap here for some strange reason. One extra focuses on the special effects of the film, while the other concentrates on the making-of the entire movie. Neither are particularly impressive to watch, but it’s apparently better than what the other region releases have received, so there’s that I suppose.
Overall Immortal is just confusing. It’s pretty to see and hear, but if you want any idea of what is going on…well, go read the original comic it was based off of, I guess. Even then I can’t guarantee you anything will make sense. Still, as with the film, worth a Rental for the visuals, particularly if you enjoy sci-fi films of this nature.
Immortal arrives on Blu-ray on December 2nd.