When you take away the modern visual splendor and the explicit blood and gore, Tarsem Singh’s new film “Immortals” is a great old-fashioned adventure movie based on Greek mythology. I almost expected Steve Reeves* to appear in the film.
The film stars Henry Cavill as Theseus, a young peasant who lives with his mother as part of a costal Greek community. King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) wants a bow that descended from Mount Olympus during a war between the gods and the titans. Hyperion kills Theseus’ mother and the stage is set for the hero’s journey.
If it all sounds terribly familiar, it should. The story is typical, but the presentation is spectacular. The advertising makes a point that this film is produced by the same people who produced “300.” But Tarsem’s visual eye has been displayed long before that film with his debut “The Cell.” Since Tarsem and “300” director Zak Snyder were classmates together in film school, perhaps advertisers should have said “from the director who went to school with the director of ‘300’.”
The film is full of grand fights and battles. And the techniques used do remind a viewer of “300.” But is that so bad? Actually, while Snyder’s Greek epic imitated the visual style of Frank Miller’s graphic novel, “Immortals” looks more like it was painted. Each scene is filled with complex lighting and vivid colors.
The score and soundtrack are very busy throughout the film and, at times, overbearing. But “Immortals” will never be accused of being a subtle film.
The acting is fine, but a bit wooden at times. Cavill fills his role well, but at times seems to channel King Leonidas from “300.” As a side note, Cavill is currently filming in Zak Snyder’s new Superman film. Physically, he is perfect for the Man of Steel. Stephen Dorff shines as the thief Stavros, who provides a few needed scenes of levity.
I admit I have a fondness for Greek mythology and literature. It is difficult to be too harsh on the film. It has flaws, but it overcomes those by having great sets, costumes and action scenes.
- Steve Reeves played Hercules during a run of Italian made fantasy films in the late 1950s. “Immortals,” perhaps unintentionally, serves as a homage to that era of fantasy filmmaking.