Anyone who’s seen the trailer may just think that Immortals is going to be another 300 clone. Another film full of men who spend more time shaving their chests than their faces and go around decapitating people with impunity and actually, up to a point they’d be right.
The film’s lacklustre screenplay by Charles and Vlas Parlapanides is cliché ridden and just about as bland as they come. The story such as there is involves a vengeful warrior king called Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) who seeks the Epirus Bow, a weapon with the power to unleash a group of trapped ex-immortals called Titans who can kill the immortal Gods of Greece and let him assume the throne at the head of all humanity. Unluckily for Hyperion an outcast peasant (being secretly trained by Zeus of all people) called Theseus (Henry Cavill) wants to stop him.
Cavill’s tour de abs performance at the centre of the film pays little heed to character development or nuance and instead relies upon his physique and can-do shouty attitude to get things done. It does up to a point but in a film without any ‘This is Sparta!’ moments and the least laughs since Bernard Manning got a guest spot on BBC 1Xtra campy loudness just isn’t enough. In the other performance stakes Mickey Rourke as Hyperion is nigh on incomprehensible, I really could have done with less growling and a little more enunciation and Freida Pinto as an oracle called Phaedra phones it in – although she could actually be trying her absolute best, I’m not really sure.
However it’s not all bad. Whilst his first feature The Cell was showy nonsense his follow up – namely The Fall – showed a director with a great talent for photography. Tarsem Singh’s painterly eye is yet again on show here with moments of great artistry and fleeting and often brutal beauty. Throughout The Fall any holes in Tarsem’s plot or dramatic efforts were usually effectively filled by his breathtaking visuals and vistas. Anyone in any doubt of the director’s ability for spectacle should see the astoundingly good music video to Massive Attack’s ‘Paradise Circus’ that utilises the highlights from the film to great effect.
In a way I think that such a recommendation says it all. When actually watching The Fall Tarsem’s limp writing and poor delivery meant that much of the imagery died on the screen. However when given the right context (in this case being a music video) his carefully worked shots take on a rare beauty. With Immortals the climactic well staged fight scenes don’t make up for the rest of what is a supremely bland film. It’s no surprise that Tarsem started life as an extremely talented music video director and on the strength of this effort it looks like he should have stuck to what he does best.