Before he slips on the red and blue tights and fights crime for truth, justice, and the American way, Henry Cavill picked up a bow and arrow provided by the Gods to do battle with Mickey Rourke in Tarsem Singh’s “Immortals”. The film boasts the tagline: “From the producers of 300”, and it’s certainly that, alright. Yes, the producers of “300” also produced this, and yes, the film certainly looks and feels like “300” at times, though it’s a bit more meandering in my opinion. Judge for yourself with the “Immortals” DVD/Blu-ray, now available from Universal Pictures.
Immortals explodes off the screen with action-packed battles, mythological adventure and an all-star cast. In this epic tale of vengeance and destiny, power-mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) threatens to destroy all of humanity on his maniacal quest to obtain the ultimate weapon – the legendary Epirus Bow that gives the power to unleash war on both Heaven and Earth. But Theseus (Henry Cavill), a heroic young villager chosen by the gods, rises up to stop Hyperion’s brutal rampage. With supernatural help from the beautiful oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), Theseus embraces his destiny and leads a fierce band of warriors in a desperate fight for the future of mankind.
I’ll give him this: Cavill certainly looks the part of the mythical Greek hero. The man who would be Superman stars as Theseus, a poor lad who has been trained since he was a kid to fight and kill the baddest of foes. His teacher? Zeus himself, played by Luke Evans, in disguise as John Hurt. (Trust me, that makes perfect sense in the movie.) And it looks like Theseus is going to need those skills, too, cause here comes Mickey Rourke’s Hyperion to ruin everyone’s day.
Hyperion, you see, has a grudge against the Gods, and plans on unleashing the captive Titans in order for them to slay those Gods. (What’s his beef? It’s not very complicated, though it is pretty silly, which makes his whole vendetta all the more amusing.) First, though, the bad man will have to get past Theseus, who is jonesing for some revenge of his own after Hyperion brutally slaughters his village and caps his mum. On his quest to kill Hyperion, Theseus teams up with a thief (Stephen Dorff) and a virgin oracle (Freida Pinto), and though he doesn’t know it, the Gods are also looking out for our hero. Eventually the trio end up defending a city against Hyperion’s army, with the world and the fate of mankind at stake. Hey, any lesser stakes and this wouldn’t be an epic, would it?
It’s not that “Immortals” isn’t great, it’s just that, well, yeah, “Immortals” isn’t really great. I don’t think it could ever become great. It’s got the budget and the resources to pull off something really, really good, but a pedestrian script by Charley Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides doesn’t do the movie any favors. Cavill, in particular, tries his damnedest to make the film pop onscreen, but even with all of Tarsem Singh’s bag of visual and editing tricks, the film always feels too contained, too restrained … and yes, even maybe just a little bit bored with itself. I know that sounds weird with a movie that features insane battle scenes involving Gods and Titans and giant armies, but the film’s real highlight is Theseus and his men taking on a slew of invaders in a cramped hallway, so that’s saying something. The rest of “Immortals” is very forgettable.
If “Immortals” works at all it’s thanks to Cavill flexing his muscles as the classic Hollywood hero (square jaw, abs, you name it, the kid’s got it), even if it doesn’t necessarily come across here. (Again, I blame that more on the empty directing by Singh, who seems more preoccupied with his shiny visuals than, you know, all that acting and story stuff) The film’s other major asset is Mickey Rourke, whose villain chews scenery like a man possessed. I can’t stress enough how entertaining it is to watch Rourke go about his job in this one, folks. Dorff is surprisingly good as the wisecracking Stavros, but he doesn’t have nearly enough to do. Which is a shame, because I’ve forgotten how charming he can be when he brings his A-game. And Pinto? Well, Pinto is Pinto, which is to say, the woman is gorgeous, and that whole “virgin oracle” thing doesn’t last long, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.
The Blu-ray Disc arrives with a couple of throwaway featurettes (“It’s no Myth” takes a serious look at Greek mythology, while “Carvaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision” gives way-too-long praise to the director), and the disc’s major selling point: an Alternate Beginning and two Alternate Endings. The Alternate Beginning features more from a young Theseus (kinda dull, actually), while the Alternate Endings don’t really offer anything drastically different, but does give you some extra looks at the aftermath of the film’s climactic battles. There are also some deleted scenes, and for those of you who like reading your comic books on a computer, there’s the “Immortals: Gods and Heroes” comic to waste some minutes on. I’ll give the “Immortals” Blu-ray this: if you bought it purely for the spiffy special effects and Tarsem Singh’s eye candy, then yes, it’s definitely worth the purchase.