Immortals | Film review
Tarsem Singh presents Greek mythology as it exists only in his mind.
Oooh! Pretty pictures! Tarsem Singh’s talent for the visual is on full display in Immortals, a beefcake sword-and-sandals epic buffed to a glowing 3-D digi-shine. Ancient Greece never looked or sounded quite like this: Combatants and deities alike model spectacular Eiko Ishioka costumes while wielding fiery whips, head-obliterating chains and testicle-crushing hammers that would make Thor jealous. And let’s not forget the legendary Epirus Bow, a mythical weapon sought by the ruthless King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) so he can unleash the imprisoned Titans and declare war on the gods of Olympus. Standing in this warrior regent’s way is the pectorally gifted peasant Theseus (Henry Cavill), who’s none too pleased with the monarch for slashing his defenseless mother’s throat. (Hyperion’s growly kiss-off line, “Witness…Hell!,” is the “This is Sparta!” of 2011.) An alluring oracle (Freida Pinto) and a wily thief (Stephen Dorff) are Theseus’s companions on his vengeful quest. They supply come-hither expressions and pithy asides as needed.
Tarsem’s geometrically composed frames never fail to impress; even blood-gushing decapitated heads fall as if on pre-planned trajectories, and the eye candy helps to distract from a script that’s about 50 generations removed from original. Strangely enough, the broad-brushstrokes storytelling neutralizes the director’s more ponderous instincts, on excruciatingly ample display in his prior features, The Cell and The Fall. The filmmaker’s work is infinitely more exhilarating when he’s relieved of the need to be serious. He should play dumb more often.