‘Immortals’ review: This! Is! … Well, it’s kind of like Sparta
‘Immortals’ a hyper-stylish, unrealistic version of Greek myth
Immortals,” a tale of Greek hero Theseus, apparently decided Ancient Grecian history simply wasn’t exciting enough for today’s audience. So instead, it jettisons the hero’s established vita, and in its place unleashes a lush, visceral mashup of “300” and Greek mythology, strikingly resembling Zack Snyder’s “300” in both style and over-the-top violence. Sadly, it bears as much resemble to the myths of Theseus and the Minotaur and the Titanomachy as “300” did to the Battle of Thermopylae.
For fans of the musculature and slo-mo, gore-ridden action of “300” and its ilk, “Immortals” will be right up your alley. Decapitations, eviscerations and gold lamé splatter the nightmarish landscape at an alarming rate, and bloody battles break out every few minutes.
But for those who enjoy plot and character development to go along with their hyper-violent Greek history — or even a semblance of historical accuracy — you’d be better off watching 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts.”
In this version of Greek myth, the story begins with a slapdash narration about the Titanomachy, the battle between the Titans and the immortals who would become known as the Olympians. We’re then immediately thrown into the life of Theseus (Henry Cavill, “The Tudors”) — although no one with any Grecian knowledge would recognize it.
Here, the hero is a peasant seeking revenge for his mother’s murder at the hands of an invading king, while along the way deciding to lead the Hellenes in a fight against the same sadistic king. (In Antiquity, Theseus was a founder-king of Athens and son of Aethra and both mortal Aegeus and god Poseidon.)
Cavill, while lacking any emotional draw, fits the role of muscle and angst, and it looks as though he’ll be a well-built Clark Kent when “Man of Steel” is scheduled to released in 2013. Frieda Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire“) plays the prophet Phaedra, a consecrated virgin who seems to not understand the meaning of celibacy when around Theseus.
The two shallow (if good-looking) characters race across Greece in a effort to stop King Hyperion of Crete (Mickey Rourke, “The Wrestler”) from locating the legendary Eprius Bow, a weapon powerful enough to fell the immortals themselves and capable of releasing the imprisoned Titans. Rourke, at least, seems to enjoy his role as a monstrous tyrant causing pain and mayhem wherever he goes.
But in the end, as moviegoers at Wildhorse’s new cineplex said Friday after the first showing, “Immortals” isn’t really about the myth, or even the acting. What counts is the look — and “Immortals” has this in spades.
Director Tarsem Singh, well-known for his music videos, may lack in the storytelling department, but he is gifted with a horror-inducing imagery, even going so far as to have Hyperion castrate a defecting Hellen. The 3-D worked wonders — “Immortals” uses Real D 3D and Digital 3D formats — working to enhance this dream-like world.
Still, it’s disappointing there’s nothing more here than the obscene amount of violence, the ridiculous costumes (apparently the Greeks were impractical with their wardrobes) and the amazing view. Even when we’re taken to Mount Olympus, the gods fail to impress, seeming more like Abercrombie & Fitch models than battle-hardened warriors of old. And the Minotaur? A guy in a barbed-wire bull mask.
For a movie about Greek myth, you’d expect something more … mythical. But if you’re ready for two hours of “300”-style action with a dash of sadism and a lot more gore, you’re in for a bloody treat. Just don’t be surprised if you don’t remember anything but the blood after you leave.
Two bloody stars out of five.