Director: Tarsem Singh
Writers: Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides
Principal cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans and John Hurt
Release date: 11th November 2011.
Embittered tyrant King Hyperion (Rourke) leads a quest across Greece in search of the legendary Epirus bow that will release the Titans from captivity within the confines of Mount Tartarus, a race of immortals who are the sworn enemies of Zeus (Evans) and Mount Olympus.
Forbidden by his own code to intervene in the affairs of mankind, Zeus chooses a mortal named Theses (Cavill) to lead the fight against the ruthless King and not only protect Greece from the impending bloodbath but to recover the magical bow before a war is started in the heavens.
Tarsem Singh’s loosely based new take on the Greek Myths has a brave and sometimes fresh look and is summed up best by the striking visuals used to depict the Greek Gods and Olympus.
Closely resembling a group of Las Vegas stage performers in a porn movie, the Gods have a slightly superhero quality about them with Luke Evans and his fellow deities seemingly a much more interesting bunch than the mortals inhabiting the Earth below.
But where are they Titans? The original adversaries of Zeus seem relegated to nothing more than prisoners and when ultimately freed from their wonderfully envisioned cage are reduced to a mere group of frenzied lab rats on a killing spree.
Elsewhere, the bizarrely designed animal toned helmets and masks worn by Rourke and his army of thugs seem almost primeval in appearance and will linger in the mind long after the film has ended.
The visual feast is a hit and miss affair and one starts to tire of digital onslaught by the close of events, especially the excessively sepia toned landscape that seems devoid of any vegetation and built solely upon brown rock and grey sea.
Herein is the problem with Immortals.
Singh has created a modern stripped down myth for the digital age that will no doubt be compared with the mindless adolescent comic book nonsense previously brought to the screen by Frank Miller and Zack Snyder in 300(2006).
Although there are hints of something much more intelligent and thought provoking beneath the surface, any ethos and symbolism found in the Greek Myths are lost in a simplistic and at times muddled narrative which contains far too much clunky dialogue combined with a decision to bath the whole experience in a cacophony of extreme violence (needless to say you will lose count of the number of decapitations that take place before the end credits roll).
The script offers little for the cast to invest in and the mortals revert to type with Stephen Dorff’s bronze age horse thief a shade away from being Han Solo, infused with the same grinning sarcasm and reluctant heroism found in Harrison Ford’s seminal space pirate, the character initially seems tacked on as a cohort to Cavill’s emerging hero but grows in likeness as the film proceeds through a very linear based adventure plot.
Mickey Rouke fares slightly better with his villainous King Hyperion, essentially a replay of the comic book criminal portrayed in last year’s forgettable Iron Man sequel. To invest in a great screen villain the audience needs to not only understand the motives of the bad guy but to experience the history and events that have turned the character to evil in the first place. Alas, this back story is swiftly discarded in several paragraphs of grizzly mumbled dialogue during the opening scene before focusing solely on the bloody quest to bring down the heavens. As a result what we get is nothing more than a pantomime villain with homicidal tendencies.
Freida Pinto has less to play with and is served poorly by a script that finds her virgin oracle as nothing more than a standard damsel in distress and all too willing to disrobe her virginity within moments of setting sights on Theses.
Any film of this genre needs to focus on the journey of the hero from underdog to champion and the evolution of its central protagonist. Cavill has the making of a great screen hero and all bodes well for the forthcoming Superman movie.
Immortals finds the actor certainly looking and acting the part of the reluctant and brooding hero but Cavill and the majority of the cast are let down by a script that offers very little in the way of character insight and all too often delivers some seriously clumsy dialogue exemplified best by the rather dull rallying call delivered by the hero to his warriors as they face the oncoming storm of King Hyperion’s wrath.
Frustrating, as Immortals could have been a soulful and rip roaring new take on the Greek Myths.
Worth a browse alone based on some visually stunning ideas but Singh’s digital take on the Greek Myths is ultimately an unfulfilling and extremely violent experience that lacks the rich characterisation and ethos found in its source material.