** (out of 5)
November 11, 2011
Henry Cavill as THESEUS
Mickey Rourke as KING HYPERION
Stephen Dorff as STAVROS
Freida Pinto as PHAEDRA
Luke Evans as ZEUS
John Hurt as OLD MAN
Directed by: Tarsem Singh
BY KEVIN CARR
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Even though it takes a lot of liberties with history, mythology, politics and physics, “Immortals” can teach us a lot. The biggest take-away is that cool visuals and neat action scenes does not a good movie make.
I say this because on a certain level, “Immortals” is a gorgeous looking movie. The cast is beautiful (with the exception of an oddly lumpy Mickey Rourke, a ragged John Hurt and a too-skeletal Isabel Lucas), and most of them look fantastic in their loin cloths. The cinematography is eye-popping, and the digital matte work is incredibly detailed even if it’s not fooling anybody into thinking its real.
In short, the visuals are great. And it leads into some great action sequences. From humans fighting humans to battles involving Gods and Titans, “Immortals” has some bloody awesome moments. Unfortunately, a heavy dose of digital brains and guts doesn’t raise the rest of the film up. While I was already aware of this lesson to be learned from “Immortals,” it appears that director Tarsem Singh and his crew didn’t get the same memo, which they could have figured out by watching “Sucker Punch” earlier this year.
“Immortals” twists around some Greek myths to tell the story of the young demigod hero Theseus (Henry Cavill), a bastard child who helps defend his people against the invading army of King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). The Gods refuse to intervene unless Hyperion manages to release the Titans entombed in a fortress, something he plans to do if he gets his hands on a mystical bow.
“Immortals” has been billed as coming “from the producers of 300,” and they’re really pushing to get these films connected in people’s minds. On one level, this is accurate. Like “300,” “Immortals” is a visual smorgasbord filled with virtual sets, lots of sweaty abs and superhuman fight sequences. Unfortunately for “Immortals,” unlike “300,” the story isn’t up to snuff.
Instead, with weak characters and sloppy plotting, “Immortals” comes across more as a high-budget direct-to-video sequel to “300” that has nothing to do with “300” whatsoever. When taken as a whole, “Immortals” has more in common with the aforementioned “Sucker Punch.” Has great visuals and style, but the story is facepalm frustrating.
When swords are flying, people’s heads are exploding and abdomens are sliced open to reveal a shimmering scarlet lattice of internal organs, “Immortals” is at its finest. The same can be said for the brief sex scene which features a 3D nude Freida Pinto (or more likely a 3D nude Freida Pinto body double). But it’s the reasoning behind all of this that doesn’t work.
Characters and story are meant to be the glue that holds the action scenes together, not the parts you have to suffer through to see more cool shit. But these elements of “Immortals” are aimless and meandering. The characters don’t really do a whole lot, and they surprisingly don’t really go anywhere – emotionally or even physically for the first two-thirds of the film.
With this in consideration, it made “Immortals” plain and boring. I suppose if the film were a 20-minute sizzle reel of awesome action and eye-popping visuals, it’d be pretty cool. But as it is, it’s just another “300” wannabe. It’s a big screen spectacle that offers nothing more than the spectacle.