It’s like “300”, but with more funky masks. And Gods. But Gods that don’t quite look or act like Gods. These Gods are a lot more mortal-like than Gods we’ve seen before. I mean, if you’re a God, you should be able to do more than just suit up and go hand-to-hand with a bunch of God-type bad guys, right? You would think so, but that’s not exactly what director Tarsem Singh and screenwriters Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides have in mind. In fact, when the Gods finally come down from their high horse (or, er, mountains) and do their thing, it’s a bit underwhelming. That, in fact, describes much of “Immortals”. Underwhelming. Plus, repetitive and familiar. I would tell you not to bother with it, except it’s got one major ace in the hole: Mickey Rourke.
Would-be Superman Henry Cavill stars as Theseus, a plain ol human mortal who head God Zeus (Luke Evans) has been grooming for something big. That would be fighting crazy ass, mask-wearing warmonger King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who is determined to free those imprisoned God-type bad guys previously mentioned, called the Titans. I guess imprisonment has taken its toll, cause the Titans are not visually appealing looking chaps whatsoever. In any case, Hyperion has a grudge against the Gods. You know, one of those “they didn’t save my family” type of grudges. Theseus soon feels Hyperion’s grudge up close and personal when the mad King destroys his homestead and kills his dear mum. Theseus is tossed into slavery, but that’s when he runs across a pretty virgin oracle named Phaedra (Freida Pinto). Hey, if you gotta do a stint as a slave…
Besides being quite the dish, Phaedra’s powers allow her to see the future, and Hyperion believes with the right nudging (like boiling her friends inside a cow and such), he can get her to reveal the location of a mythical bow with God-like powers. This plan, well, sorta works. (I’m not ruining anything here. You’ve probably already seen Hyperion shooting his fancy God-like bow in all the trailers already.) While in captivity, Theseus also makes the acquaintance of mouthy thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff), and together, the threesome try to save the world. Or a series of mountainous, cave-like houses that passes for a kingdom in “Immortals”, anyway. Honestly, if this is the kind of home these guys are stuck trying to save, I’d hop on a boat and look for greener pastures myself, but hey, maybe that’s just me.
It’s pretty hard to ignore the “300” comparisons, especially in light of the fact that Zack Snyder’s film showed up five years earlier and has essentially done pretty much everything Singh tries his hand at here. Leading man Henry Cavill certainly fills out the hero card well enough, at times even overcoming some awful writing. The plotting is pretty pedestrian, and honestly, how the script gets Theseus from place to place, just in time for the next big fight, is beyond contrived. There are times, such as the Big Speech, when Theseus’ heroics should really shine through, but unfortunately there’s not a whole lot even someone of Cavill’s talents can do with the clunky dialogue. It’s a good thing Cavill has the abs and muscles to pull off the plentiful action scenes, because “Immortals” certainly has plenty of those to go around.
Visually speaking, “Immortals” doesn’t really break any new ground. Then again, the film’s production values aren’t exactly helped by the bleak, heavy brown tint of the film’s Hellenic-set landscape. You’ve also seen a lot of the film’s action sequences before — the sped up camera work, editing tricks, and all the usual suspects in movies with this heavy green screen component. The fantasy element allows Singh to indulge in his every bloody whim, so kills are highly creative, with heads popping like pimples on a fat kid and Gods in shiny costumes bashing in lesser beings with groovy weaponry. At times all the slick bloodletting comes dangerously close to going overboard, but then that would suggest you’re not a fan of this type of overkill, something you should have expected from the trailers. The film certainly doesn’t disappoint in that department.
There are really only three good reasons to watch “Immortals”: Tarsem Singh’s crazy ability to come up with the most absurd ways to dispatch people, Henry Cavill’s growth as a would-be leading man, and last but certainly not least, Mickey Rourke’s absolutely whimsical bad guy. There isn’t a scene in the film where Rourke isn’t chewing scenery like a madman, rather he’s gouging out the eyes of a subordinate or popping food into his mouth like he’s on a Sunday stroll in the park and not, you know, trying to kill the world. Rourke is absolutely hilarious, and when he throws down, he’s pretty believable, too. Oh sure, apparently Hyperion has a really good reason to be going around conquering people, slaughtering innocents, and trying to take out the Gods and what have you. But honestly? I think the dude just likes to wear horny masks and digs being the baddest mofo on the continent.
Tarsem Singh (director) / Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides (screenplay)
CAST: Henry Cavill … Theseus
Mickey Rourke … King Hyperion
Stephen Dorff … Stavros
Freida Pinto … Phaedra
Luke Evans … Zeus
John Hurt … Old Man
Daniel Sharman … Aries
Isabel Lucas … Athena
Kellan Lutz … Poseidon