Immortals FILM REVIEW
Release Date: 11 November 2011
15 * 110 minutes
Director: Tarsem Singh
Cast: Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans
You were expecting 300 meets Clash Of The Titans? Tough luck. You’ve got Meet The Spartans meets a Pet Shop Boys video. Though, arguably, Immortals is funnier than Spartans. Albeit, unintentionally. Well you tery not laughing when all the warriors start bashing on their shields and the scene threatens to become that “We Will Rock You” moment from A Knight’s Tale.
Corny, camp and contrived, Immortals tries to give the Theseus myth a modern makeover but – despite the latest CG and voguish 3D, slow motion, blood-confetti-ing action scenes – comes across as depressingly old-fashioned instead. The stilted storytelling is more ploddingly episodic than the least memorable Ray Harryhausen mythological road movie, while an attempt to give the story resonance by introducing a discussion about free will simply ends up making Theseus look like a dullard failure who has to turn to the gods every time he cocks up (which is often). Changes to the myth are arbitrary at best and banal at worst (the Minotaur is reimagined as some bloke in a spiky mask). You get the feeling they’ve been made more for budgetary reasons than artistic ones.
Visually, there are some stunning moments and the battles do have a brutal 300 vibe, but there are just as many design clunkers. The wimpy gods look like they’ve stepped out of the stage version of The Lion King; the sets are uniformly stagey and bland (causing a jarring disconnect with the CG at times); the Oracles have been dressed in novelty lampshades; and the Titans appear to be trapped in a giant football table. The film aims for “striking” but more often looks plain ludicrous. And that’s when it’s not just ripping off Lord Of The Rings – honestly, at one point the film appears to have relocated to Mordor.
The actors try their best (except Rourke, who just growls as usual) but bland direction and pompous dialogue suck the energy out of the performances. It’s also gratuitously nasty – not so much the cartoon blood and slow motion mauling of the ultra-violent battles, as the scenes of masochism and torture. All of which blunts what could have been the one true standout moment in the film – cinema’s greatest wince-inducing scene since Misery.
Immortals doesn’t lack a sense of wonder, though. You spend most of the film wondering why they bothered making it.