Just a couple weeks removed from Halloween, director Tarsem Singh brings out all the visual candy of the eye that he can muster. Any sense of history or plot consistency is cast to the wind, because reading is for nerds, or people who actually would care to write a screenplay to be proud of. The producers of 300 made a decent decision replacing director Zack Snyder with Tarsem Singh, but neglected to see that Snyder also helped write 300, and writing sort of matters in a movie. Guys, it’s right there in IMDB.
The upcoming Superman, Henry Cavill, takes a detour on his way to Smallville via ancient Greece. He’s no Clark Kent, but as likable peasant Theseus, he’s aright. Theseus isn’t just any peasant, though. After all he doesn’t even believe in the Gods. He’s quick to beat down a soldier, but always respects his elders such as his mom and the kindly old man that everyone in the village seems to ignore (John Hurt), who just happens to be the king of the Gods, Zeus. Someone who does believe in the gods though is King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).
Played with the seething anger of a madman (or actor) trying to think of what next to say, Hyperion fills his days raping, pillaging and ordering his newest recruit scarred and smashed in the nads. Welcome to hazing circa 1200 B.C.
Hyperion’s ultimate goal is the mystical Bow of Epirus. In a land of spears and shields, this bow will allow the owner to free a race of bloodthirsty beings called Titans. Before the gods were that, they had a winner take all battle with these monsters. Thank god, the Titans are locked in a cage linked with metal rods that go through their teeth. No, this isn’t a review for Bondage and Dieties V, but it could be.
The only way to get to the bow is with the help of the lovely, virginal oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto). It seems that Phaedra’s main skill besides predicting a likely future is getting her female bodyguards killed. Not only can the bow release the Titans, but its arrows can go through anything and anyone to do so. Young Theseus will need all the help that Phaedra’s visions can give, provided she can maintain her virginity, which is easier said than done when you look like her. Along for the ride is the wisecracking Stavros (Stephen Dorff) to remind her why she shouldn’t.
Cavill does well in a cape even if it’s not as cool as the one Kal-El or the Gods get to wear, but he definitely deserves better than this. Sculpted abs and chiseled looks aside, he does look pretty as Theseus. It’s too bad that you can’t say much more about the character. He’s the typical modern day cynic when it comes to the Gods, but isn’t the least bit shocked when he comes into contact with one…two in fact. When you’re not phased by seeing the goddess Athena (Anne Day-Jones), it’s really time for a rewrite. Thank god he’s got a sidekick in Dorff to try to convince Phaedra to take off her purity ring, albeit to unexpected results.
Mickey Rourke didn’t do a ton of research for the role, but then again neither did the screenwriters or director, so he gets a pass. Nevertheless, his King Hyperion is just fun enough to keep your mind off the fact that he hinted at taking role for a paycheck. Rourke is the type of bad guy that is just cool enough not to twirl his mustache, but too cool to bother with mere mortals. He wields the Bow of Epirus just long enough to lose it. Bad guys tend to hold onto things they’ve fought 2/3rds of the movie for. If you don’t believe me, check out his work in the last Iron Man.
The argument can be made that if you saw the trailer then you knew what you were in for and it’s a fair argument. Immortals contains layers of astounding CGI that will fatten many SFX guys’ resumes. From the Greek village carved into a side of a mountain to the cliffs overlooking an ocean, the visuals are indeed breathtaking.
The beautiful gold costumes and the garish headgear worn by God and Rourke alike were obviously designed to glue eyes to the screen. The 3D adds to the illusion that it’s only a matter of time before you or the villagers slip off the cliff at any moment. Battle scenes pull no punches (pun intended) either, as a mixture of skull crushing, skin tearing action punctuated by slow and fast motion brings to mind every 300 clone imaginable, but it’s guaranteed to bring out shocked looks and a few gasps of “omfg”, no matter what crowd you’re in.
If there’s such a thing as beauty in battle then director Singh pulls of a Victoria Secret fashion show of it. It’s just unfortunate that he didn’t realize that beauty is only skin deep.