Movie Review for Immortals

Lacking Vitality


Action, Drama, Fantasy | R-13 | 1 hr 50 min
Pioneer Films
The conception of Immortals probably went something like this: the producers of 300 realized that they haven’t been able to really capitalize on their success. They decide to go back to the well, aiming for another action epic set in Greek times that uses stylized visuals and lots of slow motion. They think up a thrilling action climax that pits gods against titans, and mash together a bunch of Greek myths until they can somewhat justify getting to that point. Zack Snyder was busy, so they hired another director who’s at some point has been described as “visionary.” And then they made it 3D. Immortals lacks any sort of immediacy or vitality, the film purely a construct of commercial interest.

The Cretan King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), driven mad by the loss of his family, sets out to destroy the world by acquiring the legendary Epirus bow and setting the long imprisoned titans free. The gods are unable to interfere directly, abiding by ancient law. But Zeus (Luke Evans) has secretly been guiding the young warrior Theseus (Henry Cavill) on a path to heroism. Hyperion eventually destroys Theseus’ village, and the young hero is captured. But in captivity, he encounters the virgin oracle priestess Phaedra (Frieda Pinto), who reveals to him his greater destiny. Soon, Theseus is fighting for the very fate of the world, with the gods looking on from Olympus.

The film glues together scraps of Greek mythology to form much of its story. But the film is only really interested in the familiarity of the myths, rather than its themes or ideas. It’s used mainly to provide a recognizable touch point for audiences. The plot is mostly there to bide time until the big action climax. The hero wanders around almost aimlessly, and the villain calmly sits in his tent, waiting for the plot to move forward. The film stalls harder by contriving the ancient law that prevents gods from interfering. It appears to be a law that is completely self-enforced, and given the supposed consequences of inaction and the inevitability of their arrival, it just seems ridiculous and arbitrary.

To be fair, the action climax is pretty great. It splits the action between two rooms: one housing an epic superheroic battle between the gods and the titans, and one featuring an outright brawl between Hyperion and Theseus. Both sides have their pleasures, but it still doesn’t feel like it’s worth it. To get to that point, the audience has to sit through over an hour of really dull, pointless storytelling. The film suppresses Tarsem Singh’s color palette for the most part, with only a couple of scenes featuring the director’s signature style. It’s a mostly muddy affair, only made visually interesting by the costuming.

The cast is strong enough. Henry Cavill proves to be a capable leading man, though the stiffness of the character is definitely holding him back. Much better is Mickey Rourke, who again lets his years seep through every moment of his performance. He makes a couple of counterintuitive touches that keep things pretty interesting. Luke Evans gives it his all, but the Zeus of this movie is an inexplicable creature. Frieda Pinto keeps landing in roles that don’t really call for much. I suspect she might a good actress, but she’s yet to really stand out.

Even with its special effects, its godly action and explosions, Immortals is frustratingly dull. It operates on the idea that one big action set piece should be enough to sate the bloodthirsty crowds. But even the most awesome of action scenes would fall flat without the context to make it all mean something. The context in this case is over an hour of wheel-spinning, a hero wandering aimlessly through a quest where the outcome is preordained.

My Rating:

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