I’m pretty sure that in an alternate dimension somewhere, audiences are sitting in the theatre and loving the hell out of Immortals. Maybe in some ways it’s actually good, but I can’t see them. At best, the film acts a great demo reel for Henry Cavill, who audiences will see as Superman sometime next year. For that reason, and perhaps Mickey Rourke’s Hyperion, Immortals is worth a peek. Even then, you may want to have someone take you to the movie, rather than pay for it yourself. Let’s put it this way. I spent more time on my iPhone with the brightness dimmed during the movie than I did actually watching it, and that’s a rarity for me. You’re better off waiting for the Netflix Edition. Everything you see in the trailer is basically the film in a nutshell.
The only other thing it really does have going for it is the 3D, which actually happens to be pretty good for the half hour that you can see it (and perhaps that’s just me, because it feels like it fades over time). The film does feel as if it were primarily filmed in 3D, and boasts some awesome visuals, but the story is a little jumbled. I won’t deny that Tarsem Singh has a really fantastic eye for painting a scene from The Cell to this point, but without sharp writing there’s something lost in the translation. It’s like watching David Fincher when he was still partnered with Darius Khondji on Seven or Spielberg with Kaminski in Minority Report. You can make pretty pictures, but there has to be some kind of meat and potatoes to it for the audience. That’s just how I felt here.
Eons ago, you once had mortals and you had gods. Zeus, Poseidon, Athena, Apollo, Dionysus, Aphrodite, etc. In Immortals, the gods learned that they had the ability to kill one another and as a result, there were a number of wars. Enter Hyperion, who loathes the gods and wants them destroyed. In order to do this, he has to unleash the Titans, who were once servants of the gods but were punished for their treachery and sealed away in a special cage that can only be unlocked with an item called the Epirius Bow (which was one of the elements I truly enjoyed).
Our hero, Theseus (Cavill) lives a quiet life with his family when Hyperion’s forces attack. In the process, he witnesses his mother’s death at the hands of Hyperion himself and swears vengeance. Captured and left for dead with a number of others, he meets a mystic named Phaedra (played by Freida Pinto, who seems like she may be playing the same role emotionally that she did in Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Phaedra provides him with visions that allow him to reach the Bow.
Lead by Zeus, the gods watch all of this from Olympus, but are unable to interfere in the affairs of mortals on pain of death. These sequences (when they do happen) are the ones that you’re seeing in the trailers for the most part. Oceans rise and bad guys are cut down so fast that the first hardly has a chance to fall before the ninth one is hit. It’s amazing to see, it really is, but it’s been done before in movies as old as Jet Li’s The One. The film doesn’t lack in action, and in that, there’s a plus. What I had personally hoped for was something akin to giants or mythical creatures. Even though it was geared for teens, last year’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians offered more of a mystical element than Immortals did for me. It wouldn’t have hurt to have undead warriors or harpies or something. For all the money spent in effects, everything in this film seemed to be grounded in human based actions.
All of this culminates into a huge 300 like battle, right down to the narrow passageway that is used as an arena of battle. Theseus rallies his troops that are ready to retreat with a speech that’s helped along with the banging of shields. It was nice, but again, it wasn’t anything terribly new – “They’re only human!!” *clack clack clack* “We can beat them!” *clack clack clack* “For the children!!” *clack clack clack*
“And a tighter script!” I wanted to yell with a raised fist. “And maybe a refund!”
As for the audience, they seemed okay with it. There is a love scene which I don’t think younger audiences are ready for, but it was done in such a way that the “fade to black / open to the following morning” shot doesn’t let things get too far, visually.
When it gets to video, I may see Immortals again (because it is visually beautiful), but you’re better off treating yourself curling up somewhere and reading Homer’s The Odyssey for a while and letting your imagination fill in the pieces. It’s a okay film if you don’t ask for more than what it’s giving you.