Immortals (2011)

Immortals (2011) – I am not alone in saying that Tarsem Singh is one of the most astonishing visual directors working today. His 2000 thriller The Cell was amazing to watch… unfortunately the plot was stupid and the non-D’Onofrio lead actors were phoning it in. Still, the look of the movie is nothing short of astounding. In 2006, he made The Fall without the help of any major studio. In addition to his breathtaking visual sense he actually had an involving story and compelling performances. This is what he could be working with better material. If you haven’t seen it, get on that. Now Tarsem’s back with the studios doing a Greek mythology film from the same producers as 300. Indeed, the advertising has really been playing up the 300 connection.

Well, unsurprisingly, the film is great to look at. It is a bit of a step down from The Cell or The Fall, but it still has superbly crafted visuals. However once again, story and character seem to be the casualties of the film. The story centers around Theseus (Henry Cavill, who will be playing Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel) and the evil king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). Rourke isn’t an actor that screams “Ancient Greece” but he’s menacing enough in the bad guy role. While the film uses 3D reasonably well, the depth of the performances never matches the depth of the image. Cavill is good enough but doesn’t really bring anything substantial to the part (though it’s good to know he can do the action hero thing). The pantheon of Greek gods seems casted out of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. Luke Evans broods as Zeus, while John Hurt (who plays a disguised Zeus) is the one who actually brings a level of authority to the role. Isabel Lucas just acts kind of pouty and looks good doing it as Athena (no real complaints there). Freida Pinto is a one god damn sexy woman, but as in Rise of the Planet of the Apes she doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot to do here (and apparently her naked ass in the movie is really a body double).

I am not really familiar enough with Greek myth to know where exactly the story goes astray but I can tell that it does pretty significantly. That’s not a huge issue for me but it’s not the digressions bring anything to the movie. The minotaur is a dude in a helmet instead of a dude with a bull head. Okay… The fight scenes in the movie are actually pretty damn watchable and from a mindless level the movie is entertaining. A scene in which Ares (Daniel Sharman) royally fucks up a bunch of Hyperion’s soldiers is pretty badass (at least to my sensibilities). I’m really not sure at what level to recommend this movie. It’s a big, dumb (but gorgeous) action movie. The quality of writing and acting would make me says wait for Netflix, but the real spectacle of the film should be appreciated on the big screen. So I don’t know. If you need intellectual engagement to merit spending the price of a movie ticket (especially a 3D one) it might be best to sit this one out. Tarsem’s next film is Mirror Mirror, a Snow White adaptation starring Lily Collins, Armie Hammer, and Julia Roberts. From the preview it looks like the movie has a beautiful look again but some really insipid humor. I hope he doesn’t just become a director-for-hire. I hope he goes on to become the visionary film-maker that The Fall proves he can be.

One Response to “Immortals (2011)”
  1. CMrok93 says:

    It’s probably one of the best-looking films of the whole year (yet, I still haven’t seen Tree of Life) and the action is awesome and in-you-face which is something I always like. The story dragged on a bit and I couldn’t help but think that if the writing was a tweaked a little better, this would have definitely been a very solid film. Instead it was just fun and pretty to look at. Good review.

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