[NOTE: This is a review of a Region 3/NTSC DVD. This DVD may not be playable on your DVD player. Please check to see that your DVD player can play DVDs encoded for Region 3/NTSC prior to purchasing this title.]
I don't make it a habit to review DVDs other than those that are Region 1 or All Region except in cases of a Must-See movie (see Zatoichi (2003) Korean Special Edition 2 Disc Set and Ju-On: The Grudge 2 - Korean Special Edition 2-Disc Set). Immortal had caught my eye a few months ago when I saw the trailer on Apple Japan's Quicktime Trailer page, so I thought I'd take a chance and screen it even though it meant close to 2 hours in front of my computer monitor.
For Immortal, director Enki Bilal has adapted his series of French comic-books, The Carnival of Immortals and The Woman Trap to create a lush visual experience akin to Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Frank Miller's Sin City. Shot entirely on Blue Screen, with copious amounts of CGI characters thrown in for good measure (including many of the supporting roles), the style is certainly audacious, but like a majority of CG, no matter how good it looks the day it's rendered, it tends to age quite poorly, and even though this film is jus a year old, it looks about as good as the best graphics your Playstation 2 has to offer.
In the New York of the future (2095 to be exact), a giant pyramid appears and hovers above the city. You would think something like this would cause widespread panic and alarm, but it appears that New Yorkers have become even more jaded since our time period. News reports about a possible extraterrestrial visitation and the Mayor kvetching about his falling popularity polls due to the mysterious interloper are all the reaction the floating structure elicits. It turns out that the pyramid belongs to Horus, yes that's right, the ancient hawk-headed Egyptian god of the heavens. For some reason he's been sentenced to death by the rest of the pantheon and is allowed seven days o the Earth he created to find a suitable perch for his seed. In order to impregnate a female though, he'll have to find a human host for his spirit, but with everyone in the future so heavily into genetic mods the general population are too impure for him to possess.
These impurities lead to some grisly results when Horus tries to make a connection, which the police take for a string of serial killings. A man, Nikopol, who spoke out against rampant genetic modification 30 years before and was condemned to suspended animation for it, is the only one who Horus can inhabit. With a flesh and blood body now at his disposal, he tracks down Jill (the freaky, flaky, blue-haired chick on the DVD cover) to play the part of his baby's mama. Turns out that she's a bit of a genetic anomaly herself, who may or may not be an alien, or maybe a mutant, but it seems to be a fact that she is definitely less than 3 months old. Oh, and her organs are all in the wrong places.
The ideas presented here, with the exception of the Egyptian God theme, have all been seen on-screen in one form or another. From Blade Runner to The Fifth Element, many of the futuristic cityscapes and modes of transportation have a familiar feel to them. The character of Nikopol, some kind of neo-martyr to a futuristic fascist régime based solely on body modification feels a little empty-headed, as does most of his reactions to being re-animated 30 years in the future only to have to share his body with an Egyptian God. In short, the main characters that we are supposed to relate to or at least root for, are so closed off to us and seem so blasé about everything going on around them that you are just praying for Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford to appear with a big gun and start dishing out some futuristic justice of the hot lead variety.
The DVD: Intercontinental Video Limited – Immortal - Hong Kong (DTS Version) [REGION 3/NTSC]
Picture: The film is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As with any digital feature, the transfer is flawless and looks as good as can be.
Audio: There is a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Track and a DTS Digital Surround track. I don't have a DTS decoder, so I chose the Dolby track which is in the film's original language, English. The sound was good and immersive throughout.
Extras: There are no Extras included on this DVD.
Conclusion: I could say that having no prior knowledge of this directors comic book output puts me at a disadvantage at understanding and enjoying this film, but honestly after reading up on it on the web, it seems that many came away from this one feeling the same as me… namely wondering what was the point? My life wasn't enriched by the experience and even though I did enjoy the pretty pictures and sounds, the acting and plot (or lack thereof) turned me off. There's just something about watching a ham-handed human actor interact with a shoddily rendered CG animation of a person that makes you just want to turn the damn thing off. So please, feel free to Skip this one.