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Immortals Movie Review - -


Reviewed by Sophie Whin on November 16th, 2011
Universal Pictures
presents a film directed by Tarsem Singh
Screenplay by Vlas Parlapanides and Charley Parlapanides
Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke and Stephen Dorff
Running Time:
110 mins
Rating: MA
Released:  November 24th, 2011




Tarsem Singh’s Immortals is an epic that fails spectacularly in every genre it attempts to tackle. Be it dialogue, characters or even design, the film is a clunky trial in how to lose an audience in ten minutes and unfortunately does not have nearly enough redeeming factors to keep our attention to its conclusion. Set in Ancient Greece, Immortals follows the trials and tribulations of the muscle-bound hero Theseus (Henry Cavill). Having declared war on the gods, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) sends the Greek world into chaos as he searches for the ultimate weapon, which would release the savage Titans and thereby bring about an end to the reign of the Olympians. The gods themselves are prevented from meddling in the affairs of their mortal counterparts, with Zeus (Luke Evans) himself dealing deadly punishments to those who disobey. It is only through our hero that the gods can have any chance of survival, with Zeus secretly training Theseus before the events of the film. Inadvertently caught up in the battle between Hyperion and the gods, Theseus saves the life of the Oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto), who is the only person with knowledge of the weapon’s whereabouts. Fighting alongside the couple is the thief Stavros (Stephen Dorff), and together the trio race against time to prevent not only the destruction of the gods but also the destruction of their very livelihood.

Known internationally for his previous film’s The Cell (2000) and The Fall (2006), Tarsem Singh has been lauded for his technical precision and creativity in formulating ideas to screen. However, in his most recent offering we are left with some pretty pictures but no substance. The film is tagged as being backed by the producers of 300 (2006), which shares similarities with Immortals, including an oversaturation of CGI and a focus away from cohesive storytelling in favour of gratuitous blood flow. Unlike 300, the film does not have the luxury (the excuse) of having a graphic novel at its basis and is therefore the brainchild of writers who failed Ancient history in high school. Immortals is riddled with classical Greek motifs and yet they all seem out of place with the multitude of gold-clad gods, dirty armies and sombre environments. Large chunks of scenery look like they’ve been lifted right out of a video game (see God of War 3) and the abrupt changes of scope make for a dizzying mess. We are hard-pressed to understand what is actually happening and where everything is taking place. A notable example is after the death of Theseus’ mother we are transported from a dark coastal village to a blindingly deserted salt mine in the middle of nowhere. What just happened? How much time has passed? Where are they in comparison to Hyperion? We have no idea and Singh makes no effort to answer any of these questions.

Mickey Rourke as the villain Hyperion is perhaps the film’s only saving grace, but even he can’t stop this train wreck from fading into obscurity. Tough talking and deadly, his character is chilling, if slightly hard to understand. He seems to mumble half his lines whilst chewing through several food delicacies (did you say steak?). Henry Cavill and Freida Pinto provide the usual eye-candy with Cavill doing the best he can with such a cardboard script. He definitely has star quality and it will be interesting to see him take on the Man of Steel in next year’s Superman revamp. The Olympians give little grounding to the plot, however it must be acknowledged that Isabel Lucas as Athena did not make me want to gouge my eyes out in horror, with her end fighting scene almost enjoyable. The Christian allusions throughout the piece only round out the stylised jumble that is Immortals and in retrospect seems at odds with the mythological material. The audience can recognise a Greek legend when they see one, so there is no reason to bombard us with contemporary Christian imagery in order to ease the discomfort of the semi-unknown.

Tarsem Singh’s film should not be taken seriously and in comparison to his previous works it is by far his weakest. The script reads like a first draft and the over sensation of violence will make even those with an iron stomach fill queasy. Immortals begins and ends with the Socrates quote ‘All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine’. Instead it should have begun and concluded with ‘Story. What story? Blood, nakedness and SFX is what it’s all about’.


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