Movie Review: The Immortals (Pain Box)

Posted: October 21, 2010 in Movie Review, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , , ,

1


The Immortals (1995 Nu Image Films Dir. Brian Grant)

Because it takes place at Halloween, that’s why! What, was that? You hadn’t actually asked why we were watching a heist movie as part of our Halloween special? Well, that’s probably because you’d never heard of this before. And why would you? As far as I know, it was just a direct to video/cable movie that came and went like the wind during the mid-nineties when HBO was showing things like this about once a week. I saw it back in the day and I remembered it well enough that when I noticed it was part of a pain box set I bought it. I got this from Target, as part of a 1 disc, four movie set from Echo Bridge Entertainment. Welcome to the Pain Box Club guys! Actually, Echo Bridge can’t be blamed for this movie. Like most Pain Box distributors, they didn’t make this thing. They just acquired the rights to it. Interesting point though, they actually seem to own the rights to this movie, at least in North America. Most Pain Box makers just grab whatever is in the public domain and throw it out there. Not that I believe they meant to buy this and distribute it. I’m going to go ahead and assume that when they bought Alliance Atlantis, it was part of the library that they got with the sale. I can’t imagine anyone deciding to seek out this movie so they could have the rights, particularly not so they could release it on a disc with two other forgotten mid-90s gangster movies and a blaxploitation film. No, this smacks of “We have the rights to these, what’d you want to do with them?” However, that doesn’t mean the movie is horrible, we should give every movie that comes across our plate an equal chance to delight or at least surprise us. Particularly this one, as I remember it being pretty good.

2
Go-go, not Cry-cry.

Right away, it’s pretty obvious when this movie takes place. We’re in a night club called The Terminal (remember that name for later) and it’s obviously the Halloween party. There’s a guy running around in a costume of Eric Draven from The Crow, there’s a guy in a plastic replica of Jim Carrey’s make up from The Mask and some pretty generic mid-90s rock is being played. We’re told right away what the deal is, or at least the surface of the deal. Eric Roberts is Jack, the leader of a gang who will go all Reservoir Dogs only they’re stealing cases of cash instead of knocking over a jewelry store. Eight parolees have been brought together to pull a heist job, and they’re being paired with people they’ve never met and would be inclined to dislike. You can tell how they’re going to be paired right from the first, when they start to announce their prejudices like they’re at some kind of freak AA meeting, and also their desires not to be partnered with certain people. I smell buddy picture! Can’t you smell it too?

3
Because they were out of princess costumes, that’s why!

So the racist, played by Joe Pantoliano is paired with Clarence Williams III, playing the same kind of person he plays a lot. I’ve seen him in four or five movies playing this guy who is angry about racism, but too old and wise to actually do or say anything about it. He’s annoyed by the racist, but they agree to just go along for the time they need to get along. The take is too large, and the actual time they’ll be spending together is too short for complaints. We then find that the genius law student (Billy) is coupled with the guy who is a bit feebleminded (George). I don’t know the actors, but I like their characters enough to learn their characters names. Mysoginist Chris Rock is paired up with Tia Carrere, who resents men and doesn’t like being touched. There are varying degrees to how much they get along, some not getting along at all, some deciding to get along for the time they need. This leaves the homophobe (William Forsythe) and the homosexual (Kieran Mulroney) paired up together. The gay guy, by the way, is shown having herbal tea even when no one else is drinking. That was how the chose to tell us he’s gay. I guess tea=gay in their minds. I honestly can’t see the connection between homosexuality and brewed beverages. I mean, a lot of the gays I know drink tea (I’ve got lots of gay friends you see) but since a lot of straights also drink tea, I never really held it as an identifying factor. I’ve personally always waited until they introduced me to their boyfriend or something like that. I dunno, tea just doesn’t mean gay to me. Maybe it’s because I hung out with a lot of bisexuals and lesbians and they all drink beer, vodka and whisky. Sorry to get so sidetracked here, but I’m just baffled about this whole Gay/Tea thing.

4
That’s right Kevin. You just keep writing that part in Dogma for me and you can keep the other knee. Now tell me that story about Prince again!

The robberies aren’t the meat of the movie, but they provide a good amount of fun. Each robbery is shown in succession, when someone reaches for the safe to start opening it, we cut to the next robbery where the combination is being fiddled with. When the safe opens, we’re with the next group who just opened it, when the case is opened so they can check the money, we’re on to the next group. The robberies for the most part go smoothly at first. When things start to go wrong though, they keep going wrong. First the homophobe is shot by a stripper, and then Tia Carerre is shot by someone trying to defend the case. After that, George and Billy start having problems when the police just happen to show up. George calls Billy by his name, which causes Billy to sort of flip out. The section with Billy and George is frankly hilarious. Billy is just so annoyed by everything that has decided to go wrong today, it’s hilarious every time he and George are on the screen together. While Billy’s reaction to things going wrong is lovely, their’s is not the only situation that has gone comic. Pantoliano and Williams can’t get their car to start as the guys they robbed come running after them. When things go wrong, the movie is pretty amusing, even though we start to get indications that things are not as they seem.

5
I WANT PANCAKES!

See, the places they robbed are supposed to belong to an international real estate developer who deals in cash for quick movements. But why should they meet such resistance if that’s the case? Also, Williams has to breathe with an oxygen mask for one thing. Well, it turns out that it isn’t. A crime boss (Tony Curtis of all people) calls Jack and informs him that four of the five drop points have been hit and that he’s probably going to be next. When the homophobe and homosexual comes in, the gay guy complains that someone might have told him that he could catch something. Jack mentions he can keep a secret, which sort of insinuates that at least two of our eight aren’t quite as healthy as they could be. Everyone but George and Billy gets right back to the club, but they have to evade capture while dealing with the fact that their going to run out of gas soon. Chris Rock gets to play a big scene, having some fun bullshitting what happened during their robbery. The thing is, this should be a crappy scene that falls flat, but it doesn’t. Probably, in the hands of the sort of people who normally land these rolls it would fall flat, but you’ve actually got Chris Rock playing the roll before he got big enough to make better movies.

6
Hippie with a Handgun
This summer, you WILL recycle, bitch!

This movie is way better than it deserves to be. The action is pretty good, not exemplary, certainly not anything like you’d get with a big budget, but they didn’t try to fake it with a lot of cut-aways and having things happen off screen. You’ve got some good people playing. One problem though, this version I’ve got is cut down to 92 minutes instead of 98, which is done for reasons I cannot fathom. The violence is still there, the nudity remains, but some discussions about how Billy knows he can’t be killed by some things because it wouldn’t be slow or painful enough are removed. Don’t know why, when you’ve got the rest, you’d cut that. Kerry, the homosexual, starts to gather up information on everyone. Turns out everyone is dying from something. AIDS, cancer, weak heart, they’ve all got something going wrong. Normally, this might be considered a detriment, however here it gives them super powers. Nah, not really.

7
Why everyone thinks shells hitting tile looks arsty I’ll never know.

Billy and George find themselves arriving to the party late, just as Tony Curtis turns up and is recognized by Chris Rock, who realizes the job is a lot worse than it first seemed. Did I mention Tony Curtis is a gang boss? Yeah, Tony Curtis is the gang boss in this movie and he’s sort of annoyed about having his drops knocked over. So where were we? Oh yeah, George and Billy grab some poor girl dressed as Cleopatra, who is clearly tripping balls, to use as a hostage. The racist tells Jack the news, and he seems to be perfectly calm about the whole thing. He gathers up the remaining crew and has a shoot out with Tony Curtis’ guys in the kitchen of the club in what has to be one of the most complicated Mexican Stand-offs I’ve ever seen. That goes about as well as you might expect and they scatter away to have individual gun fights in the club. Williams dies of a heart attack, Jack kills Tony Curtis, and the rest all make their way toward the cash in the office where they started. It’s at this time they all start to compare notes and realize that it’s all of them, including Jack. George does what he’s been doing the whole movie and lets the hostage go.

8
I’ll kill ‘em for saying Wayne’s World 2 sucked!

Suddenly the movie actually asks us to have some pathos for these characters, and damned if it doesn’t work. I actually feel for these guys as they work their escape route. Billy decides not to go with them and commits suicide by cop. This leaves George, Jack, Chris Rock and Joe Pantoliano as the only ones who remain. After a shoot out in the escape tunnel, only George and Jack are left. To spoil everything, since I’ve gone this far. Jack and George make it out alive, but without the money. They leave together, having made eye contact with the Cleopatra girl that they took as a hostage. I’m actually really surprised. I was expecting that my warm memories of this movie would be from nostalgia. I haven’t seen this movie in about 10 or 15 years after all. However, it holds up pretty well, which is surprising. The current cut of the movie hurts it a little, but not much. You could buy this movie and not want to punch yourself in the crotch for the effort.

9
We’ve replaced her heroin with Folger’s Crystals, let’s see if she notices.

Official Score:
20 Degrees on the Graffiti Bridge Scale.

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