DIRECTOR: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar.
CAST: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Luke Evans, Freida Pinto, Stephen Dorff, John Hurt, Joseph Morgan, Kellan Lutz, Anne Day-Jones, Isabel Lucas, Daniel Sharman, Alan Van Sprang, Greg Bryk, Peter Stebbings, Steve Byers, Gage Munro.
SYNOPSIS: Driven by greed, King Hyperion (Rourke) searches Ancient Greece for the Epirus Bow, a weapon forged in the heavens. In his possession it would cause unimaginable destruction and annihilate the Gods. Zeus (Evans) therefore secretly chooses the peasant Theseus to save his people – and the world – from Hyperion.
Tarsem. Tarsem Singh. Tarsem Singh Dhandwar. Whatever you decide to call him, there’s no denying the director’s incredible vision, passion and individuality. 2006’s The Fall is a deliciously sumptuous treat for the eyes and I’ve yet to see a film better suited to the Blu-Ray revolution. From his use of symmetry, stunning landscapes and glorious colour, precision is part of Tarsem’s signature approach. So it’s a shame that Immortals ends up being more about style than substance.
Set in Ancient Greece, the story is surprisingly easy to follow and introduces us to Theseus and his mother within their peasant village. Surprisingly, for all its costumes and impressive settings, Immortals has a definite contemporary feel to it and never drowns you in its history. It is a treat for those who appreciate mythology, with interesting changes and additions to the stories throughout. We get to see Theseus battle with a minotaur of sorts and Poseidon has his glorious trident, but these touches are never overcomplicated or confusing. The script involves a lot of rather natural exchanges, but this is Tarsem – people appreciate him for his art and flair. The fights are epic enough that those unaware of Tarsem’s style would probably happily sit through a bit of deeper narrative, but those that are big fans may feel a little disappointed, with no real feeling of being treated as an intelligent audience. This is the first big Hollywood script for Charley and Vlas Parlapanides, so it will be interesting to see what they throw themselves into next, but maybe Tarsem truly wanted the fighting to be the main source of entertainment in this film.
The cast seem to be a little confused, all of them apparently acting in different films. Stephen Dorff is self-assured and adds a touch of fun as Stavros, but the tone of his comedy is knocked completely out of whack by the odd little group he’s in, including a mute counterpart (Bryk) and Freida Pinto’s inability to carry the film on her acting alone. There’s no doubting her beauty and Phaedra is a stunning Oracle, but Pinto has absolutely no substance here and moments of terror and worry just aren’t followed through. Luckily, Cavill is both a feast for the eyes and the brain, chiselled to perfection and keeping us engaged throughout, even when the pace and lack of intriguing script threaten to pull us under.
These moments of terror come courtesy of Mickey Rourke’s King Hyperion, who always appears to be eating. The venus fly trap-esque hood he wears at one point is absolutely brilliant, but apart from his look and gravelly voice, Hyperion ends up a little generic and forgettable. Sure, Rourke’s size and general aura are impressive, but he just doesn’t have that little extra to make his King as exciting and menacing as he could have been. Luke Evans is fantastic, adding a real humanity to Zeus, while managing to keep an ever-present otherworldly and Godlike side to him, allowing him to assert himself and outshine Rourke. It’s also interesting to note just how much presence Kellan Lutz has as Poseidon when he only says a few words.
It truly is the breathtaking fight scenes that make this film worth watching, and it’s when the Gods descend from the heavens that things really heat up and get pretty darn spectacular. In a post-300 world, the action here is original and the mixture of slow motion, blood splattering and 3D add up to make it nothing short of downright epic. The 3D is utilised in an incredible way throughout (keep your eyes peeled for the massive sky battle), with the lush scenery and beautiful colour barely dampened to keep it token Tarsem.
Walking out of Immortals, it does leave you questioning quite what you just saw. It’s definitely impressive, but never quite reaches its full potential. With the time away from the battle scenes slow and mainly uninteresting, a more intelligent script would have filled these gaps perfectly and there is definitely the room and scope for it. The costumes are divine and visuals spellbinding, but it’s all show and no substance which, ultimately, will upset the big Tarsem fans. But don’t fear – Henry Cavill is undoubtedly our Superman.