If you require intelligence to be found within the foundation of your Greek action flicks, then director Tarsem Singh's Immortals
isn't likely to be your cup of tea. Immortals
is beautiful to watch, but devoid of anything resembling substance or meaningful dialogue.
The story is essentially your typical "good versus evil" storyline with evil represented by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and good represented by a perpetually angry peasant named Theseus (Henry Cavill, soon to be known as Superman). Theseus has a bit of a grudge against the aforementioned king after witnessing the king slit the throat of his mother. He's joined in his efforts by the lovely Phaedra (Freida Pinto, Slumdog Millionaire)
and a comical sidekick, Stavros (Stephen Dorff).
You might remember Tarsem Singh from the quietly masterful The Fall,
a visually arresting film that really never quite caught on at the American box-office despite being widely acclaimed. Singh expands upon his visual style with Immortals
and shows Hollywood what he can do with a decent budget. Now, it would be nice to learn what he could do with a decent script.
There are a few reasons, however, that Immortals
merits at least a modest recommendation despite the inanity of its script and the irrelevance of its story.
First off, Immortals
is rated R. I know. I know. That seems like an odd reason to recommend a film, but the simple truth is that far too many filmmakers these days dilute their film's action sequences and intentionally cater to the teenage crowd to create what is seen as a more market-friendly action film.
It's refreshing to see a film commit to its action, even if that action is for the most part CGI created. While the action seldom really makes sense, does action really have to make sense? Action sequences really only have to be choreographed well, photographed well and feature convincing actors who can kick butt and look good while doing it.
Trust me, I have no doubt that Henry Cavill looks good while doing it.
The film is actually written by Greek brothers Vlas and Charley Parlapanides, which might help to explain the obsession with tossing in virtually everything related to Greek mythology to the point that all we have is a bunch of Greek mumbo jumbo with the usual big names tossed in including Poseidon (Kellan Lutz), Athena (Isabel Lucas), Zeus (Luke Evans) Apollo (Corey Sevier), Old Zeus (John Hurt) and even the good ole' Minotaur (Robert Maillet).
D.P. Brendan Galvin's work is breathtaking, both his ability to capture a certain majestic quality among the characters and his ability to work within the film's CGI framework. Eiko Ishioka's costume design is also exceptional, though I've little to no experience with exactly how Greek gods and goddesses actually dress. Trevor Morris's original music is certainly in keeping with the film's presentation.
While he's not given much to work with in the way of dialogue, Henry Cavill proves himself quite able to portray a character with such bravado that he becomes a hero to the gods. Cavill, who is cast as the next Superman, should allay the fears of Superman
purists with his performance here. Stephen Dorff is excellent as Theseus's sidekick, a character who gets most of the film's lighter moments and Dorff pulls them off quite nicely without turning the film into a campy sloshfest. Freida Pinto is lovely as ever and again reminds all of us that we must thank Danny Boyle for first casting her in Slumdog Millionaire.
As always, John Hurt transcends the mediocrity of his material ... one only wishes that for once Hurt would not choose mediocre material so that he could get the acclaim he so richly deserves. Finally, Mickey Rourke is an excellent choice as King Hyperion, a role that allows Rourke to chew scenery and have a good time.
By no means a masterpiece, Immortals
is a jolly good time for folks who enjoy this kind of film and, perhaps, even for folks who don't usually enjoy such cinematic fare (including myself). While the story is muddled and secondary here, Singh once again proves a master of all things visual and has surrounded himself with a production team that brings his vision beautifully to life. While it's not likely that Immortals
will stay in your memory forever, neither will it traumatize your senses like this weekend's other opener from Adam Sandler, Jack and Jill.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic