IMMORTALS Review

It is easy to dismiss "Immortals" as an excuse to cash in on the success of "300" and "Clash of the Titans" which it is, but it is an unfair stigma because it is clear that director Tarsem Singh tries to make his sword and sandals epic with a singular vision that sets it apart from the aforementioned entries in the genre. The film truly is a beautiful sight to behold with gorgeous landscapes and striking violence galore but the story is so predictable and bland it almost makes even the most glorious of visuals feel commonplace. Singh has directed visual enticing pieces in the past with "The Cell" and especially "The Fall" but this story of courage and valor which should be used to infuse the story with real themes instead feels dated and stiffly acted. We have seen this hundreds of times before and despite Singh's approach to the genre that attempts to bring to life the work of Caravaggio rather than Frank Miller there is something missing. It simply does not feel as if the script was fully realized (immediately what comes to mind is I wanted more of the Gods on Mt. Olympus) but was instead settled upon and produced with reassurance that the way the movie looked and the fight scenes would distract viewers from the direction the story was heading. Still, the real question is whether or not this actually is as strikingly bad ass as "300" was when you first saw it or as disappointingly horrible as "Clash of the Titans". The answer in truth is that it's somewhere in the middle. Its visual flare almost rivals that of producer Zack Snyder's breakout hit but its cheesy dialogue and been there, seen that story are reminiscent of "Titans". In the end it felt completely average, a word Greek Gods should never be associated with.
Athena (Isabel Lucas) and Aires (Daniel Sharmen) watch
from Mt. Olympus as Hyperion destroys the earth.
"Immortals" draws from its source material the same way George Lucas borrowed from Joesph Campbell and based his underdog story on the archetypes of old myth and legend essentially exposing that all stories are expressions of the same pattern, which Campbell called "The Hero's Journey". The difference here is that "Immortals" stuck with the time period and used the mythology to map out our protagonist's journey. Not a bad idea when you read it, but it was the original elements Lucas brought to his "Star Wars" series in the same way the Wachowski brothers' did with their "Matrix" films that made them milestones in the pop culture universe. Needless to say, "Immortals" will not be awarded that same label. If anything, that spot for this genre has already been taken by Snyder's "300" despite its own flaws in the story department, its impact will be remembered and is clearly still being felt as films such as "Immortals" are getting made and turning a profit. So, as you may have figured our story here focuses on a lowly Theseus who has been taught all his life the ways of the Gods and just didn't know it. Zeus in disguise has trained him to fight and preached the value of courage. It has turned Theseus into a hard bodied, loving, and determined young man so it is fitting that as the truly despicable King Hyperion invades his homeland killing everyone in his path in search of the "Epirus Bow" that will allow him to free the Titans and conquer the Gods, that Theseus will be there to stop him. The most effective aspect of the story seems to be the one the writers spent the least amount of time with. That being as the Gods watch from Mt. Olympus while Hyperion obliterates village after village they feel the need to intervene despite Zues restricting them to interfere in the affairs of men and having already dealt his hand in secretly building young Theseus for this moment all his life. The moral dilemma the Gods face is never explored and besides that it is hard to even take them seriously as their head gear is more ridiculous than guests at the royal wedding.

Phaedra (Frieda Pinto) tries to keep
Theseus (Henry Cavill) alive.
One of the things that intrigued me about "Immortals" as I really had no desire to see it initially was the fact it offers a glimpse at our new Superman. As Theseus, Henry Cavill proves brooding enough and if you've seen the previews you can tell he has made himself physically adept for Greek God status, but I was eager to see if his charisma would first be enough to lead an army we could root for and hoping that would translate into a caped hero who saves our world. There is no way to tell how a film over a year off will turn out as his performance in this one is more quiet. A shy, humble man who asks for no favors, but will take what he deserves if pushed to those limits. In that Cavill was convincing but he, along with most of his co-stars that include Mickey Rourke as Hyperion and Stephen Dorff as Theseus' new found friend Stavros (who both feel too modern of actors to play these roles) cannot make the wooden dialogue or the lack of substance in their words feel genuine or real. Instead it all comes off more than a little cheesy. The only character we ever really feel we can get on board with is Frieda Pinto's oracle named Phaedra who sees visions of Theseus and is convinced he is the one to stop Hyperion's destruction. She salvages Theseus who wants to give up and like all great oracles convinces our hero that he is destined for this journey, for this one moment of glory. I vouch that the Gods would have been just as interesting had they more screen time as Luke Evans makes an intimidating and powerful Zeus while his younger supporting cast including "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen's" Isabel Lucas as Athena and "Twilight's" Kellan Lutz as Poseidon never get the screen time to develop into more than pretty people in sparkly outfits. This again points back to the main flaw of the film in its story. The producer's, maybe even Singh's approach, that despite the lackluster quest, the films visuals would fill-in for any feeling of inadequacy is simply untrue. Instead, it becomes even more apparent in the gaps between fight scenes how thin the story actually feels and how much more we deserve from our big, bombastic films based upon figures that were larger than life.

King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) does some serious skull-
crushing in "Immortals".
"Immortals" does, despite my obvious issues with the plot, at least give us a few memorable moments whether we want them or not. In the midnight show I attended the crowd reacted favorably to the engaging fight scenes, especially when Aries goes crazy and smashes heads as if they were gushers candy as different shades of red come pulsing out of the screen (though not as much as you'd think in 3D) or when the Gods finally do arrive on earth and deal with the newly freed Titans in much the same way Aries dealt with the guards. The impact of the fight scenes is so engrossing it will literally leave your heart beating a little faster. It almost makes it worse these scenes are so good because when they end, despite the brutality, we want them to keep going because we no what no action means: boredom. The scene that probably gathered the most reaction was that of Hyperion straight up crushing a traitors balls. It is one thing to torture people by trapping them in a metal bull that resides just over a fire, but to have a man spread his legs just so you can swing a hammer at his funky bunch is wrong and all together worthy of being mentioned here. I don't know if it was because most of the audience seemed intoxicated or juvenile that they reacted so strongly to this moment early on but it might also be noted that by the end of the film, most were passed out or had calmed down. The excitement was gone, the story was standard and the hopes that "Immortals" would give a chance at experiencing something that was worth a midnight show were shattered. Like a bombshell with no brains-they are pretty to look at, but just not interesting enough to want to see again.