Review: Immortals (15) / Director: Tarsem Singh / Screenplay: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides / Starring: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Luke Evans, Freida Pinto / Release Date: Out Now
There are times when I feel completely at odds with the critical consensus. Last November was one of those times, when Tarsem Singh’s loud and spectacular Immortals blasted into cinemas. I felt that most critics were perhaps too harsh on this film and seemed eager to want to dismiss it as another style over substance spectacle from a director known more for his visuals rather than his skills with narrative and plot. Immortals is not a perfect film but it is extremely good fun and satisfying in a purely visceral way.
Immortals takes place in ancient Greece with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) cutting a swathe of carnage across Greece. Hyperion is heading for Mount Tartaros to unleash the titans; destructive creatures who were defeated and imprisoned centuries before, using the Epirus Bow. Hyperion ransacks a small village and kills the mother of peasant Theseus (Henry Cavill) who swears revenge. Along with the virgin psychic Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and the thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff) they must journey to Tartaros and stop Hyperion in his tracks. All the while Zeus (Luke Evans) and other gods look on from the heavens, unable to intervene.
First things first, Henry Cavill is an awesome screen presence and this film proves that he has brilliant leading man potential, so those worried about Superman can breathe easy. Cavill is matched by Mickey Rourke as one of the nastiest villains for a long time. Rourke growls and mumbles his way through his scenes casually slaughtering those who get in his way. This is definitely a far better performance than his disappointing villain from Iron Man 2. Aside from these two the remaining support is adequate if not stellar. Most of the actors seem to be afflicted by the same problems as the Star Wars prequels. With nothing to act against, as the sets are largely green screen sound stages, some of the acting comes across as awkward and wooden.
Where this film scores big is in the visuals. There is the occasional blatantly false looking background or set but mostly this is very impressive. Tarsem doesn’t get to really use his gift for framing a beautiful shot the way he did with The Fall but again this is mainly because of the heavy green screen work. The battle and fights scenes are breathtaking with some insane levels of violence on display. When the gods eventually decide to get up off their clouds and take off their fancy hats, they enter a kind of ‘god mode’ where they make heads explode and send people flying off in slow motion whilst they zip about the place. It’s an effect similar to ‘bullet time’ and is impressive and exciting.
My main complaint about this film is its lack of a sense of humour. The film is completely straight faced and serious with even the supposed comic relief character growling lines robbing them of their comic value. Theseus may be intense and a leader of men but one or two moments of charm and a twinkle in his eye would have gone a long way towards making this more memorable.
If you didn’t likeTarsem Singh’s previous films then it’s unlikely this will convert you. For others who found Clash of the Titans to be uninspiring and bland this could well do the trick.
Extras: It’s no Myth, Carravaggio Meets Fight Club (Tarsems Vision, A Matter of perspective, Immortal Warriors, Settling a Score), Deleted Scenes, Alternate opening scene, Alternate Endings, Theatrical Trailer.