‘From the producers of 300′. That’s something that director Tarsem Singh recently took issue with. And that’s completely understandable, because it undersells Immortals. The film is far from a cheap 300 cash-in. Miles away in fact.
Immortals is a visual masterpiece. It looks absolutely stunning, second only to Tin Tin this year in visual splendor. The term ‘visionary director’ gets thrown around a lot these days, but it applies to Tarsem. Every shot, every transition and every calculated camera movement bears his signature. The production design is simply fantastic. Every frame a painting, every scene a gallery. The steady camera work melds perfectly with the beautiful framing making the film a true work of art. And that’s not even mentioning the action, of which there is plenty, and by god is it glorious. The use of slow motion is nigh on perfect and camera feels just as perfectly placed at any time. The third act climax is one of the best and most epic in recent years. Bodies are broken, blood is spilled and the gods lay down some smack. It’s truly a sight to behold.
On the storytelling front everything is solid. The stakes are clear and there’s a certain sense of urgency to the proceedings. It’s well written, nothing award winning, just good. Henry Cavill as Theseus, the chosen champion of the gods, has great screen presence. He’s charming and you believe that he’s capable of doing the things he does. If you have reservations about his short speech scene in the trailer, rest assured, it’s terrific in the film. His story is the well trodden Hero’s Journey. Nonetheless, his motivation is solid and the fact is that it’s more important to tell a story well rather than chain yourself to coming up with new things. There are still some interesting themes at work here, most prominently the immortality of the flesh (lineage) versus the immortality of deeds (legend). Cavill being a proponent of the latter, and the main antagonist, Hyperion played by Mickey Rourke, of the former. Rourke is suitably menacing in the role and is clearly enjoying himself, reveling in his evil. The two of them are the characters that have the most depth.
Frieda Pinto as the Virgin Oracle is fine and at least she gets a bit more to do here than in Rise of the Planet of the Apes . It’s nice to see Stephen Dorff in something big and here he’s the charming scruffy rouge. He’s obviously going for the Han Solo vibe but doesn’t achieve anywhere near that level of greatness. That said, he’s quite likable in the role. John Hurt is as great as ever as the old hermit (He’s literally credited as ‘Old Man’) who mentors our hero, but there turns out to be more to him. The gorgeous golden gods (Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Peter Stebbings, Kellan Lutz, Steve Byers and Corey Sevier) aren’t really fleshed out, as is often the case with deities in film, but you’ll love them all the same due to their extreme combat proficiency. Oh, and because when they hit things they go into slow-motion, flying through the air. How amazing this makes that climactic scene cannot be overstated.
Final Verdict: A bloody, brutal visual epic. The classic Greek tragedy storyline might not break new ground but the imagery more than makes up for it. And when holy fury literally reigns down it will have you on the edge of your seat gasping in awe.
- Interview: ‘Immortals’ Director Tarsem Singh On Gods, Monsters & Mickey Rourke (screenrant.com)
- Interview: Mickey Rourke on ‘Immortals’ and the Roots of Pure Evil (screenrant.com)
- Five Reasons To See ‘Immortals’ (moviesblog.mtv.com)
- Henry Cavill Talks IMMORTALS and MAN OF STEEL (collider.com)
- Stephen Dorff Talks IMMORTALS and His New Film BREAK Which He Calls ‘DIE HARD in the Trunk of a Car’ (collider.com)