Movie Review: “Immortals”

Written by Josh Litman November 16, 2011

Visually spectacular; everything else, not so much.

Immortals, directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell, The Fall), puts other films to shame…visually, at least. A lot of love was poured into its visuals, but not much else. That’s not to say the other elements of the movie are terrible; in truth, they’re decent. But given the immense effort it must have taken to make this film look like a painting come to life, it really astounds me how mediocre the rest of it all is.

Henry Cavill stars as Theseus, a not-so-meagre peasant who gets swept up in a bloody war led by King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) against humanity. Hyperion and his masked army ruthlessly sweep across Greece in search of the legendary Epirus Bow, a powerful weapon forged by the gods. It’s said that he who possesses the bow will have the power to unleash the long imprisoned Titans.

Involved in all of this are the gods themselves, including Zeus and his daughter Athena. Zeus reminds the other gods that they are not to interfere with human affairs…of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll listen. And this brings to light one of the film’s plus points, story-wise: it ends up going places you probably wouldn’t expect it to go. Hmm…if only we cared more.

Characters are severely underdeveloped. At best, Mr. Theseus gets some standard, highly clichéd back-story and motivations to flesh out his character (revenge, etc.). Most of the other characters aren’t even that lucky; they’re merely there to serve the plot and/or deliver a dreary line of dialogue. It’s a pity, too, because Immortals has so much more potential than what’s on display.

All of it actually feels incredibly similar to the television show Spartacus (RIP Andy Whitfield), except Spartacus manages to elicit more emotion and a better story in one episode than the entirety of this big-budget epic. To reiterate, a single episode of a TV show has Immortals beat when it comes to plot, emotion, and fleshed-out characters (pun intended).

Granted, Cavill gives it his all. He takes what he’s given and makes his character someone worth rooting for. It’s easy to see why he was chosen to be the next Superman. He bleeds charisma…and that jawline is awe-inspiring.

Even more memorable, however, is Mickey Rourke as King Hyperion. He’s downright terrifying. While his character is your standard evil antagonist, Rourke manages to sculpt him into a chilling, nerve-dangling presence.

Despite its lacking story and empty characters, Immortals is nevertheless a really cool movie. The battles are breathtaking; even the choreographed fights come off as art. And yes, it’s better than 300. Slow-motion action is used to maximum effect, in addition to crisp, penetrating sound design. The 3D is also serviceable.

Most spectacular of all is the slick, graceful manner in which the gods are portrayed to move and fight. It’s mesmerizing. Film-wise, it’s like nothing you’ve seen before. It’s super violent, yet beautiful. The result is a number of incredibly satisfying sequences to watch.

Immortals emerges as a remarkably epic film. The landscapes are a sight to behold, while the combat is gripping, impactful, and dare I say it...gorgeous. The story is nothing special, though I will admit the last act thankfully takes a few chances and steps outside the comfort zone. Ultimately, the degree to which you like this flick depends on how easily you can ignore crappy/absent character development and clichéd plot progression. For me, Immortals manages to be both hot and cool…unfortunately, it just isn’t very warm.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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About Josh Litman

Josh Litman

Director/producer/writer/actor/editor/cinematographer/musician/neuroscientist… Josh prides himself on being simultaneously awesome and modest. In addition to We Eat Films, Josh also produces his own work (films, writing) under the banner of Action Potential Productions and has his own website, too, where his handiwork can be viewed: www.actionpp.com -- or www.joshlitman.com (if you prefer).

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