“All men’s souls are immortal, but the souls of the righteous are immortal and divine.” Don’t let this movie fool you into thinking it is something that it isn’t by starting off with this quote from Socrates. If this movie tells us anything, it’s that all things immortal are not necessarily intelligent.
The movie opens with the narrator speaking of immortal gods killing each other. The story goes that the gods battled each other after finding out the immortals were not so immortal anymore, and the losers were cast into Mount Tartarus, no longer the deepest pit in Hades, but a nice hollow mountain in the middle of Greece. The losers were named “Titans,” now a derogatory name for all the immortals who got the short end of the stick.
Well, it turns out that King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a nasty sort of king who seems to feel the need to kill someone in every scene, is angry at the gods for not doing anything while his family died, so he sets out on a quest to release the Titans and end the gods’ reign. To do this, he needs to obtain the powerful Epirus Bow. The gods can’t do anything because they have legal obligations to never interfere in the affairs of man. Instead, they decide to tamper with the Oracle (Freida Pinto) and Theseus (Henry Cavill) to get them to save the world for them. Theseus enters the fray when his mother is killed in one of those rampages where Hyperion and his army of Heraklians just have to kill everybody.
For the first 25 minutes, this plot does well enough to keep the viewers captivated. A man seeking revenge on a king, a king seeking revenge on the gods – that’s some pretty catchy stuff. Yet, as soon as the film reaches the half-hour point, the plot goes flat, and what follows is the worst storytelling I have ever seen in a film. Some of the fault can be laid at the horrible scene transitions, which saw the main character go from his village, to a desert, and then to an ocean in a blink of an eye. It was as if, after setting up a promising premise, the film decided to rest upon its laurels and let the rest go on autopilot. In this way, a lot of the promising themes brought up at the beginning were laid to waste. What could have been a riveting Man-against-God plotline devolved into just a bunch of mortals whining about the items the gods ignored on their wish-list, (“The gods didn’t save my family from illness”, “The gods didn’t save my mother”, “The gods didn’t give me a horse”) until pretty soon we don’t see a King Hyperion hell-bent on revenge on the gods, but rather just a disagreeable old man who just wants to destroy Olympus for the heck of it.
You shouldn’t go to this movie for anything other than its fight scenes. Since this did come from the producers of 300, Immortals doesn’t disappoint in this regard. That is, it doesn’t disappoint if you came to see lots, and lots of gore. I would be hard-pressed to think of another film that packed so much human pain and suffering into 110 minutes of film. People’s heads don’t get cut off – they explode, in the full glory of CGI flesh and blood. The production crew has stated that they tried to make a lot of the scenes look like Renaissance paintings, and I must say it actually came close to the mark. The producers of this film must have felt audiences deserved a look at how battle scenes might have been painted in 1500 if Da Vinci, Raphael, or Michelangelo had way too much red paint. A lot of the scenes were reminiscent of 300, something that should interest fans of the 2007 hit’s comic book appearance. The scenes in which the gods put on their battle armor and went about solving problems Thor-style were pretty imaginative, I must say. Storyboard artists also did a great job conjuring up the scenery, even if some of it was downright illogical (I don’t care if the Greeks built the Parthenon – building your protective wall next to Mount Tartarus was a very, very bad idea).
The acting wasn’t the greatest, but it actually wasn’t a weak point in the film. Mickey Rourke does a fantastic job, as usual, playing his part as King Hyperion with a unique anger and savageness about him. He did the best he could with such a limited script that neglected character development. He managed to be brutal and pitiless while still conjuring up, at times, a feeling of empathy from the audience. Sadly, the rest of the acting in the film is unremarkable, although that may be due to a screenplay that really doesn’t require any acting outside of a rudimentary ability to express tremendous pain. Henry Cavill plays his role unremarkably, displaying all the correct hero-type qualities while still managing to kill with abandon. Luke Evans acts Zeus, and does a fine job as a god who simultaneously shows disdain and feelings for the mortals.
Immortals is not an intelligent or groundbreaking film in any way, but it certainly won’t disappoint lovers of gore and violence. If you are thinking about seeing this film as a nice foray into Greek mythology, move on. Actually, if you are looking to see anything more than battle scenes and maybe one nicely-acted villain, move on.
Oh, and yes, this film is being released in 3D. I saw it in 2D, but if you’d prefer to have the CGI flesh and blood surround you, I guess you can check out those polarized lenses.