Monday, September 18, 2006


Some of you may have heard of the brand-spankin’-new William Shatner DVD Club. OK, so the club’s name doesn’t necessarily recommend it. But for fifty bucks a year, they’ll send you 13 DVDs representing what they call “the best underground Sci-Fi, Horror & Fantasy movies available.” These DVDs are yours to keep, and when I broke the numbers down to about $4 per DVD (shipping included), I couldn’t resist the offer. Sure, you don’t get the usual packaging — your monthly disc arrives in something only slightly nicer than a Netflix envelope — but I figger that if I really like a particular film, I can create my own packaging.

Anyway, my first shipment just arrived, and so far, I’m not disappointed.

When the Shatner Club said their movie selections are “underground,” they weren’t kidding. Before this past weekend, I’d never heard of 2004’s Immortel (Ad Vitam), but I’m now happy to add it to my collection as one of the most visually stunning sf movies I’ve seen in the past few years. It’s a French-produced, English-language film directed by Yugoslav-born comic book artist Enki Bilal, based on his graphic novel La Foire aux immortels. Here’s a quick and very confused synopsis of Immortel’s almost indecipherable plot: It’s New York City in the year 2095. Egyptian gods live in a pyramid that hovers over the city. One of those gods, the falcon-headed Horus, is sentenced to death and allowed just seven days to descend into town, make contact with a hot, blue-haired, extraterrestrial girl named Jill, and mate with her. But Horus needs a human vessel in order to do the, uh, horizontal bop, so he finds Nikopol, a political prisoner who’s been in cryogenic storage for 30 years.

Got it?

What Immortel has going for it isn’t its plotline, obviously, but the vivid science fiction world it presents. Manhattan 2095 is a retro-future, Fifth Element kind of place — old 20th century cars flying among both old and new skyscrapers. It’s got that sci-fi noirish feel I love so much. The movie was shot much like Sin City and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, the actors playing against bluescreens and the backdrops and sets dropped in later. These effects are terrific, and the movie looks like a graphic novel brilliantly come to life. Many of the actors, for some unexplained and very unclear reason, were also “dropped in.” About half the cast are CGI characters like those in the Final Fantasy movies. With the exception of the animal-headed gods, these computer-generated characters don’t really work for me, but the effect is intriguing.

Overall, Immortel is a “keeper” that I’ll re-watch and share with friends. It’s gorgeous to look at, never dull, and blue-haired Jill ain't hard on the eyes at all.


Post a Comment

<< Home