Immortals - Review
Review by Rob Carnevale
TARSEM Singh claims to have been inspired by both the works of Caravaggio and the question of what role God plays in humanity when moved to direct Immortals, his blood-soaked Greek epic.
But any interest posed by seeing either of those ideas play out on-screen is quickly destroyed by the way in which the director bludgeons viewers with one loud, over-stylised scene after another.
Far from offering anything intelligent or visually enticing, Immortals is an ugly, unrelenting affair that falls prey to the same stylistic overkill that bedevilled Singh’s The Cell.
Quite simply put, the director seems to have fallen so in love with his visual style that he neglects the notion of the need for a coherent screenplay or the idea that actors should be allowed to act. To make matters worse, his visuals aren’t that great.
Loosely inspired by Greek mythology, the film follows the fortunes of Theseus (new Man of Steel Henry Cavill) as he fulfils his destiny to stand up to the might of ruthless Titan King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) and prevent him from unleashing the rest of the Titans and waging war against humanity and the Olympians above.
In doing so, he must confront the likes of the Minotaur with the help of a small band of brothers – including the mystic Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and a fellow soldier (Stephen Dorff) – while seeking out the magical Epirus Bow.
But while elements of the ensuing struggle are derived from the Greek classics, Singh seems content to follow his own path and put his own interpretation on events.
He also goes for a no-nonsense approach to the violence, featuring innumerable scenes of throats being slashed, people being tortured or burned or limbs being severed mid-battle, some of which has already been cut by the BBFC to acquire a still generous 15 certificate.
Unfortunately, and unlike 300, to which this has been compared, there’s little to hold the interest in terms of emotion or character.
Cavill, while displaying an impressive physique, shows little in the way of charisma and appears to be going through the motions for this kind of thing, while the likes of Pinto and Dorff are painfully under-developed and Rourke is content to mumble and maim.
Singh has a little more fun in his depiction of Zeus, employing both John Hurt and Luke Evans to portray old and young versions, but even then the ridiculous costumes and showy visual style impede any emotional complexity.
The surprising lack of epic scope displayed in the film’s limited use of ‘sets’ (ie, a cliff-top for most of the time) also lends the film a curiously ‘studio-bound’ feel that never allows viewers to feel a part of the world they are supposed to be enveloped in by virtue of the unnecessary 3D.
As for the notion that Immortals has anything valid or interesting to say
about war, heroism or the role that religion has to play in either a contemporary or historical context, Singh’s crass, excessive style precludes any intelligent debate.
Rather, his film has all the subtlety of seeing a sledge-hammer being applied to the genitals, which ironically one of the characters does at one stage, to unwanted comic effect.
Immortals is therefore a travesty of epic proportions.
Running time: 110mins
UK Release Date: November 11, 2011