In Hellenic Greece, the Gods have retreated from the affairs of man after trapping the Titans deep within the bowels of the earth. But when vicious King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) decides to unleash the Titans as vengeance against the Gods, only half mortal Theseus can fulfil his destiny and save humanity from ruin.
Immortals comes to screens courtesy of director Tarsem Singh, a man for whom the term ‘visionary’ was practically coined. After the commercially disappointing The Cell and the self-financed The Fall, Immortals is by far his biggest budget yet and he puts every dollar on screen with vivid production design that mixes past and present, myth and reality to create an alternative vision of the distant past.
It’s certainly his most conventional film to date, with a fairly predictable heroes journey against some stock villains, intercut with a female love interest but the visuals help to make things feel fresh, even though the demands of 3D means Tarsem’s normally rich colour palate feels a little dull here, the camera moves less expansive and the match cuts a little less impressive (aided more by CG than careful editing).
Future Superman Cavill takes the lead role and he does just fine, not taking things too seriously and filling out his costumes nicely. Rourke makes for an above average villain, partly because he’s clearly been left some leeway in the role and conjures up an off-kilter maniac, constantly filling his face with whatever food is nearby. Pinto does better than usual as the soothsaying oracle (and yes there’s some token nudity) while it’s nice to see Stephen Dorff back sucking his teeth on the big screen.
Seriously, does he know he’s doing that? The Gods are a fairly nondescript lot; Luke Evans is shouty as Zeus but Isabel Lucas and Kellan Lutz fail to impress while John Hurt turns up from time to time to say something inspirational or obscure.
Next to the visuals, it’s the violence that takes centre stage – but there’s less fighting than the action packed trailer might suggest. Cavill acquits himself well in some nicely choreographed one vs many fights that mostly avoid the casual omniscience of overly planned movie melees. But it’s the gods that make the biggest impression on the field of battle, especially an opening salvo which sees a Greek deity square up against some human foes… and pulverise them. I don’t want to spoil these scenes for you, as they’re clearly the best of what Immortals has to offer, but suffice to say that Tarsem’s use of space is excellent and the slow motion avoids the overuse common in movies like 300.
Better still, while we’ve become used to seeing indomitable heroes taking on dozens of cannon fodder grunts in movies, and Tarsem delivers this level of action from time to time, we also get engagements with consequences in Immortals. In a battle between Titans and Gods, no one is beyond harm and the despairing final battle adds the interesting elements of mortality to a fight that could have just been more CG bells and whistles.
Despite the nearly two hour running time, the plot ticks over nicely and remains unusually understandable for a modern epic. Naturally a level of preposterousness pervades the whole endeavour – from the ridiculous costuming (the silly hats even get a mention in the script) to the fact that the Titans are introduced looking like nothing so much as a bunch of trussed up foosball players. I couldn’t help but giggle at the fact that Pinto’s oracle hides among a quartet of similarly dressed actresses to conceal her identity when she’s roughly 500 times hotter than anyone else in the group. But the script by Greek first timers Charley and Vlas Parlapanides is better than you might expect, only really failing then it comes to one inspirational speech.
There was no reason to expect much from Immortals and with these low expectations you’ll find yourself surprisingly entertained. The action is nicely crafted and bloodthirsty (although it could have been more so as our local version is cut – read more
), the cast is game and the visuals are often astounding, ensuring that this will at least introduce more people to Tarsem’s unique aesthetic. The 3D focuses more on depth than presence, which works well for some isolated images but is otherwise not vital. Oh, and while it lacks the over the top nature of 300, it’s certainly a whole lot better than Clash of the Titans.