Directed by: Tarsem Dhandwar Singh
Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Freida Pinto
Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins
Release Date: November 11, 2011
PLOT: With the gods observing from above, a peasant (Cavill) races against a murderous king (Rourke) to find a magic bow that could help unleash destructive titans onto planet Earth.
WHO’S IT FOR?: Feel like it’s been a while since you’ve seen some ancient a**-kicking (in slow-mo, none the less?) Immortals might be worth a matinee. If you’re looking for something to wipe away memories of the glossy sucktitude of movies like Clash of the Titans and 300, you won’t find it here.
EXPECTATIONS: Months ago, I gave the first trailer for Immortals a “4/10,” citing curiosity in the presence of director Tarsem Singh and Mickey Rourke with some funny helmets.
Henry Cavill as Theseus: If Pinto is here to get more work (more on that below), then Cavill is primarily apart of this muscle orgy to give us a first-look at the new Superman (who will hopefully be wearing his shirt more in Zack Snyder’s The Man of Steel). Immortals is also a showcase of his action movie presence, which is not as defined as his physique. Combining the type of action sequences he’s in, along with the general blandness of the film, Cavill inches more towards “Why Do We Care About Sam Worthington?” Sam Worthington, instead of someone who offers viewers with the next step of action stardom.
Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion: Immortals has some funky color schemes, yuppie golden gods, the new Superman, Frieda Pinto’s caboose, and yet, Mickey Rourke might be the film’s most unique attribute. Adding a strong nightmarish element to the “swords and sandal” subgenre, Rourke is made into a super-sociopath who wants to be a human god, except that he’s wants to use such power to spread his obsession with sadism and mutilation. Rourke’s gravelly voice and general presence of being Mickey Rourke offers the Immortals something director Tarsem couldn’t just animate, or hurl at his audience. In some weird way, Rourke is a reminder of how some things just freak out us out naturally.
Freida Pinto as Phaedra: The former Slumdog Millionaire star is probably in this movie to ask for more work; her choice to be a female lead in a film by Tarsem Singh has only designated her to a helpless female supporter, who only exists to keep the story from collapsing (by having a vision with “clues” in it). Even Jennifer Lopez had more to work with in The Cell. In very low critical standards, Pinto is used for one of this cinematic year’s more jarring butt shots.
TALKING: Rourke dishes out a couple of menacing dialogue might actually stick afterward (such as when he growls, “Witness hell.”) The “rally” speech before the “big battle” delivered by Theseus hardly feels rousing to his life or death cause. It doesn’t convince me to fight for anything except, to quote “The Simpsons,” “less chat, more splat.”
SIGHTS: Immortals enjoys distracting its audience from thinking about how much of its action happens in front of a green screen, so there are a decent amount of shots that mix both elaborate set into well-animated landscape. The film does have a bonus of offering particularly impressive special effects, and on top of this, its set design even offers unique terrain for typical battles to happen (such as the “stair room” in which Theseus fights the spiky bull-headed guy). Tracking shots (which view the action from the side) are used in a couple of long-take action sequences that have Theseus running and slicing, but show off competent choreography more than jaw-dropping action.
SOUNDS: The intensity of the blaring horns and exploding timpani do give Immortals a decent audible sense of power. (Yes, at times it even sounds like the Inception horn motif). While it’s not a score that sounds like it has come from the gods, it is one that at least makes us think it goes hand-in-hand with the presence of such deities. Oh, and this movie is LOUD.
BEST SCENE: The fight between Theseus and bull-head guy has a fair amount of tension and general horror to keep audiences engaged. Plus, I like the room that it was shot in.
ENDING: Now moved on to a “new place,” Theseus is doomed to fighting in the sky with a whole mega mosquitoes nest of people probably annoyed that they have to battle for their after-lives in zero gravity.
QUESTIONS: Does the bow’s power vary according who handles it? When Theseus snipes those four goons across the way, they don’t explode or anything of the sort, which is exactly what happens when Hyperion fires a single shot into anything when the bow is in his possession. Does the Titans’ relationship with gravity cause them to die in slow motion, or is that just a trick by the movie itself? Did Tarsem ever argue against putting this in 3D, especially since the format doesn’t seem to enhance the look he is aiming for?
REWATCHABILITY: More than some other movies, Immortals is almost (and sadly) made for a browsing view. Should you come across it during some channel-surfing, you can stop by Immortals, look at the strange colors and even witness a few stylistic killings, and then move on.
When compared to its many artful tendencies, the violence of Immortals is fairly phony, and generally not all that exciting. When the action physics of such a movie make way for anything to happen, from perfectly aimed arrows to exquisitely sliced titans, how can anything really be all that surprising? Haven’t the “endless” possibilities of CGI gone too far towards “endless” and away from “natural” ground?
Quoting oneself is ungodly, but my thoughts from my above “Best Scene” section basically sum up the entire experience of Immortals – “I like the room it was shot in.” The action of Immortals, no matter how brutal it is made to be with CGI blood, or slowed down it is with special effects, doesn’t stand to the movie’s natural elements – the sets, the coloring, and yes, even Mickey Rourke. Although Immortals sets itself apart from 300 by aiming for a shred of story, and not being an action scene mixtape, it still gives into the badass-less hollowness of those movie’s sequences.
Stylistic director Tarsem doesn’t exactly save this sword and sandal retread from stupidity, but he does give it a few kind ‘n heavy injections of style.
FINAL SCORE: 4/10