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Directed by Tarsem Singh
Starring Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt
Originally Released: November 11, 2011
Coupled with delightful visuals and unreal effects, Immortals is a fantasy, with a reasonable cast and a good dash of battle gore. While it takes the lead from the likes of 300, Troy, and Clash Of The Titans; it also unfortunately butchers the original mythology upon which it is ostensibly based, taking the phrase "loosely based" to new levels of bullshittery.
Immortals follows the legend of Theseus (Henry Cavill), the founder-hero from Greek mythology, responsible for the formation and consolidation of Athens – and eventually Greece as a power in the ancient world. Centuries after the war of the Immortals, evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) seeks the Epirus Bow, the only weapon that could possibly free the evil Titans, antagonists of the Gods.
A Hero’s Journey, Immortals depicts Theseus’ rise to prominence, a reluctant mortal who would stand by the sides of Gods – and eventually fight in their names. In a blood-soaked battle that would determine the conceptualization of "souls" in Greek culture, the stakes are high – and may spell doom not only for the mortals, but for Immortal Gods as well.
Right off the bat, the writing of Immortals is mediocre at best – with the script being more of a display of the gutting of Greek mythology more than anything else. The display reeks of "we can do better than those ancient idiots", and portrays more of a misinterpretation of the original tales. While the tale does follow the Hero’s Journey formula strongly, and the structure itself is of sound value, the plot suffers immensely because of these alterations and changes.
The problem exacerbates itself further with much of the character representations. The Minotaur is shown as a beastly warrior who serves Hyperion (who is made into a mortal for the purposes of this fuckery), who wears a helm in the shape of a bull’s head made out of barbed wire. And that is remarkable because that would place him as the inventor of barbed wire some 3,000 years before it existed.
Essentially, for those with any sense of both history and mythology, moments like these are going to take you right out of the viewing experience. While many adaptations take numerous forms with artistic license and various changes to suit the film, in Immortals it is sheer butchery, and the changes add zero value to the end result whatsoever.
Despite the disappointing screenplay, some performances are good. Henry Cavill is exceptional, and has a dominating persona on-screen. Several shots indicate with much clarity why Zack Snyder selected this actor for Man of Steel – in Immortals he is truly a superman, bringing forth a large effort in spite of the story.
John Hurt is also of note, as always, never delivering a poor performance – and conceivably playing one of the more memorable roles of the movie. Everyone else, unfortunately, has their on-screen performance suffer from misguided direction and the terrible story – including Steven Dorff, I’m afraid to say.
The visuals, on the other hand, are spectacular. High effort is made for the CGI and visual effects, but it is the battle between the Immortals at the end of the film that delivers the biggest payoff. The battle sequences are laced with much splattering of blood, which will be a delight for the horror/gore fans out there, though overplayed a bit once you’ve already watched Zack Snyder’s 300.
But while the visuals are excellent, some elements do suffer – and mainly in the realm of "this is obviously designed for a shitty 3D screening". Some scenes are painfully directed to "pop out at ya", and in a 2D delivery system, indicating pathetic direction. Sad – because the last time that didn’t work well was that 3D version of Friday The 13th on VHS.
In spite of my bitching, the visuals are the saving polish for the movie. Immortals is worth a look if you’re after a popcorn flick with bloody violence – one of those films you can watch without a single thought or shred of concentration needed. If you’re after this kind of experience, queue it up… otherwise if you’re after something with some deeper subtext, some intelligence, or even something more closely related to Greek mythology, watch something else.
Overall Rating 2½ out of 5