Immortals, Wars, Gods, Weapons, *Yawn*

Movie Review: The Immortals (2011)
Summary: Chosen by Zeus, Theseus leads the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion who threatens the gods and humanity.
Spoilers: none

Not quite epically bad but too bad to be epic, Immortals is a 300-ish sword-and-sandals film about a great war between the gods at the dawn of time. The losers of this war, the Titans, are imprisoned in Tartarus Mountain. Many eons later, the evil ruler “King Hyperion” (Mickey Rourke) marches across Greece killing and subduing all as he seeks to lay hold on the Epirus Bow, forged by “Ares” (Daniel Sharman) in the heavens. This bow can release the Titans, thereby threatening the gods.

Watched after and trained by “Zeus” (Luke Evans) in the form of a mysterious old man (John Hurt), “Theseus” (Henry Cavill) is the one mortal destined to oppose Hyperion. Rejected as a bastard child, Theseus’ mother was raped by Hyperion and their village slaughtered. When he meets the virgin oracle, “Phaedra” (Freida Pinto), he is told that he is the one to overcome all odds and restore hope to the world.

Theseus may get the attention of heaven, but this movie won’t get the attention of audiences—at least not in a good way. With a few precious exceptions, the acting is weak. The laughably unbelievable character presentations are strained with a residing melodrama that allows this gore-fest to bring the occasional unintentional chuckle.

Freida Pinto as "Phaedra"
“Six-pack” abs are oiled up and visible in nearly every shot. On par with this are characters we have trouble taking seriously. The corny costumes reek of something from a late-80s B-movie set. Opening with the usual English-accented narration, it might be a bit of a reach to call Immortals a movie that wants to be like 300, although it does want to cash in on its success.

Director Tarsem Singh figures, give audiences loads of blood, a hopelessly evil ruler, and a mystic weapon of power and you have a movie that people will think the world of. Well, the movie will sell tickets, but it will also be called out as being a good-time-only battle-romp like it is—and that would be an example of a more positive endorsement.

Singh was the one who brought us 2000’s The Cell, and while this one is a proudly high-budget shelf piece that many a producer would feel cool showing off to his peers, the only consistent thing it will have audiences talking about on the way out to their cars is how all of its substance is stockpiled in special effects while so little is kept for anything else. And it’s almost sad to see a movie dressed up to be cosmetically perfect still fail for lack of getting it right. The 3D sucked and did nothing.

This is no family movie. It is gory, graphic, and ready to shock you with coolly logical combat sequences and sadistic punishments and executions. Rourke does a sensational job with Hyperion, a character of very limited potential, but one that transforms on screen as one of the more dynamic forces. This cruel tyrant only begs not to be taken seriously when he wears a certain spiked helmet that would do little more than obscure his peripheral vision. The sad part: even if we bought it all, we still wouldn’t care.

Cavill’s Theseus we can’t get behind. He has trouble conveying intensity or any complex emotion. Evans’ Zeus comes as close to an outstanding performance as Rourke’s. But trying to reinvigorate 300 with a less-embellished-but-mythologically-charged aura, Immortals simply fails to set itself apart as unique or with anything novel to offer.

Everything here has been done before and done better. Beyond the grueling combat scenes, we really don’t want to like anything or anyone, and when those who are supposed to impress us reach out to be noticed, we smirk with indifference, or giggle.


Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: R (for sequences of strong bloody violence, and a scene of sexuality)
Director: Tarsem Singh
Starring: “Theseus” (Henry Cavill), “King Hyperion” (Mickey Rourke), “Stavros” (Stephen Dorff), “Phaedra” (Freida Pinto), “Zeus” (Luke Evans), “Old Man” (John Hurt), “Lysander” (Joseph Morgan)
Genre: Action / Drama / Fantasy