Tarsem Singh's Immortals just screened a bunch of new footage, including an absolutely epic extended fight scene between gods and monsters. Disemboweling and decapitation have never looked so visually striking. Read on for our spoiler-y description of the footage!
The panel first showed a trailer for the movie, some of which we had seen before. In voiceover, John Hurt explains, "Long before man roamed these lands, there was a war in heaven. The victors declared themselves gods. The vanquished were renamed Titans, bound within prisons deep inside Mount Tartarus. King Hyperion and his legions seek to unleash the titans and wage war on our gods."
We then see a massive thunderbolt hit the ground, out of which Henry Cavill's Theseus appears. Luke Evans's Zeus declares that if there is one man who could lead the armies in the war against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), it could be Theseus. Theseus tells Frieda Pinto's Oracle that he isn't sure if he has faith, but that she can see the future. To which the Oracle replies that she can't change the future — but Theseus can.
The rest of the trailer features the heroes taking on all comers — including King Hyperion's entire legion — and brutal sword-fights with giant mythical creatures. We also see a figure — perhaps Kellan Lutz's Poseidon — plummet into the ocean, which appears to unleash gigantic tsunami waves on a huge walled city. Theseus declares that they should, "Fight for honor. Fight for your future."
Later, the panel showed more footage, this time of a climactic fight scene. We find ourselves inside a mountain — I'd guess the Titans' prison of Mount Tartarus — in which there is a huge open-air chamber, encircled by huge interlocking statues. A masked figure shoots an arrow that unleashes a huge white orb, attracting the attention of blackened, inhuman creatures. Then fiery golden rays shine down on the mountain, heralding the appearance of Zeus and his warriors.
Zeus tells the waiting monsters, "None of you will leave this place", and, with that, the fight begins. The fight is brutal and bloody, featuring decapitations, disembowelings, impalings, people (and monsters) being chopped in half and hurled into stone walls... basically, every insane thing that could happen in a fight does happen, and quite a few gods are seemingly killed.
Zeus then climbs onto a strange golden chamber, which may be the prison. He picks up two handles from the top of the chamber, and as he lifts the handles up wispy golden chains appear, linking the handles to the giant statues. With a mighty heave, Zeus pulls the statues down, making the entire mountain fall in on itself. As the surviving monsters rush towards him, Zeus, cradling one of the fallen goddesses, disappears in a blinding golden light.
As you might be able to guess from those at least mildly insane descriptions, director Tarsem Singh's visual style is all over this film, just as it was in previous efforts like The Cell and The Fall. Tarsem explained how he melded practical effects with CGI and green screen for this movie in sequences like that big fight scene, which he said he shot three times over: once with just the live actors, once using CGI animation, and then finally as a combination of the two, which he said created a far more real look and feel for the film than if he had used purely CGI.
During the panel, Tarsem explained that he is primarily a visual storyteller - he comes up with compelling images and then sees what story could fall in around them. In this case, he explained that he wanted to explore just why the gods (or God) don't interfere in the lives of humans. He said free will is one obvious answer, but that there are other possibilities, and that's an idea he wanted to follow up in Immortals.
The panel stressed that one of the biggest decisions they made in this film was to make the gods young and beautiful, a departure from most depictions that favor a more ancient appearance. Producer Gianni said these gods were "young and pissed." Tarsem argued that, if you go back to Renaissance depictions of the gods, they're surprisingly in keeping with what's in this movie - while the gods' faces are old, they are clearly placed on the bodies of young, fit men.
As Tarsem explained, he decided to keep those bodies and replace the heads with those of young, handsome actors. Indeed, the entire film seems to feature about as much male beefcake as one could ever possibly hope for — Frieda Pinto said she loved the fact that this was the rare film where the women can remain largely covered up, but the men are all pretty much naked.
Immortals opens November 11, 2011.