Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I first watched artist Enki Bilal’s visionary film ‘Immortal’ probably about four years ago and I thought it was a very interesting movie with a remarkable look to it, but Lord knows I didn’t have a clue what was supposed to be going on. While ruffling through the old DVD rack I recently ran across my copy of ‘Immortal’ and thought ‘what the heck’ and decided to watch it one more time again to see if perhaps the years had adjusted my brain waves more in tune to those of Enki Bilal’s. The simple answer to that is ‘hell no’ as watching ‘Immortal’ a second time around was almost like watching it for the first time all over again.

It is the year 2095 in a rather futuristic vision of New York City. As futuristic as this may be, the odd pyramid that is floating above the city has the populace full of angst. Inside this pyramid is the Egyptian God Horus (voiced by Thomas M. Pollard) who, if I am to understand correctly, will expire in a little while if he can’t find somebody or something to carry his seed or something. What Horus needs is a human body to assist him in this quest and while it is easy for Horus to take over bodies, the bodies of this time all have some kind of technological implants which makes it mighty difficult for Horus to inhabit these unnatural bodies without some rather harmful ramifications to these bodies.

Across town there’s this odd looking woman in blue named Jill Bioskop (Linda Hardy) who is some kind of cybernetic being or something and has caught the eye of geneticist Elma Turner (Charlotte Rampling). Elma rescues Jill from some kind of cyber prison and has made the woman of blue her test subject for a group of experiments that I can’t begin to comprehend or understand. Also Horus has finally found a suitable body in the cryogenically frozen terrorist Alcide Nikopol (Thomas Kretschmann) who is anti cyber implants so he proves most suitable. Except for the fact that has no left leg. Horus simply makes him a 250 pound leg out of a steel rail which only works good for Nikopol when he does what the god wants him to do. Not that he has much of a choice in this anyway.

Horus is looking for Jill because Jill apparently is the only being who can do what he needs done. Jill is being counseled by some odd guy named John (Frederic Pierrot) who seems to know what Jill is all about… if only he’d tell me. Horus has used Nikopol’s mack daddy game to get next to Jill and while Nikopol probably could’ve closed the deal on his own, Horus being the impatient god that he is uses Nikopol’s body to rape Jill. Repeatedly. There’s also this big red shark looking thing, on order of the city’s head politician or CEO or something, who is trying to kill Nikopol for some reason or the other. The secret to all of this lies in the Dead Zone, I think that’s what they called it, which used to be Central Park and is now the home to death and destruction. Then something happens and all is right in the world. I guess. Hell, I don’t know.

I’m guessing this one of those cases when it would’ve helped if I had read Mr. Bilal’s graphic novels because I spent the vast majority of my time with ‘Immortal’ in a total state of confusion. Unlike some of the reviews I have read concerning his film I didn’t have too much of a problem with his odd mixed usage of pure CGI characters, human characters with CGI heads and completely human characters. I didn’t see a discernable pattern to why he used what and where, but I simply accepted this as how it was going to be. Also as one of the first films to be shot entirely against a green screen using computer generated backgrounds, and maybe still being the only film using this much mixing of CGI characters and human characters I thought the movie looked stunning and the imagination behind creating this world was amazing to behold. But what did it all mean?

And I suppose therein lies my problem with ‘Immortal’. The base of the story I think is pretty clear, the God Horus wants to procreate. But it’s all the surrounding stuff that is hazy. I imagine in Bilal’s books there are numerous branching plot lines, as there would be in any novel, Graphic or otherwise, but for a movie… man you gotta pare some of that down bro. A filmmaker has gotta focus on something that the less enlightened amongst us can get a grip on and follow. I hate to tell my man to ‘dumb it down’ but maybe just keep some of the stuff that’s directly related to core of this particular story and let all that other periphery just fade away. We love Charlotte Rampling and all but after she freed Jill did she really serve any other purpose to the story? The flying red shark gave us a cool chase scene but did that creature, or the detective, or the fat bureaucrat or his hot CGI assistant really add anything to Horus trying to get laid? The answer to these questions is probably ‘yes’, but their integration into the story was beyond my comprehension.

‘Immortal’ is a visual experience to be certain, but I don’t know how much of a cinematic experience it is considering how muddled the narrative is. Enjoy how it looks but consumption of numerous adult beverages may be in order to understand what its saying.

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