DIR: Tarsem Singh • WRI : Charley Parlapanides, Vlas Parlapanides • PRO: Mark Canton, Ryan Kavanaugh , Gianni Nunnari • DOP: Brendan Galvin • ED: Wyatt Jones, Stuart Levy • DES: Tom Foden • CAST: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt
Not only is this an expression that succinctly describes Tarsem Singh’s third directorial feature, they are the twin graces which save Immortals from the halls of mediocrity. That’s not to say Henry Cavill’s performance as Theseus is poor, or the writing penned by new scribes Vlas and Charley Parlapanides is feeble. Immortals simply falls victim to the same curse afflicting so many of these mythological epics, in that it’s often painfully derivative.
It’s the discourse, rather than the bog standard fetch quest plotting that offends most. Everyone, even Mickey Rourke’s generic-if-refreshingly-nuts Hyperion struggles with awkward lines. Still, while Cavill’s perma-scowl bodes well for 2013’s Man of Steel, supporting characters Luke Evans, Frieda Pinto and Steven Dorff (remember him?) are more than capable of holding audience attention. Again, the narrative and dialogue are bearable. It’s just a titanic shame a hero as invigoratingly bloodthirsty as Theseus lacked the wit, or task, befitting his exceptionally aggressive psyche.
This imaginative drought contrasts quite spectacularly with the films audio, and to a much, MUCH greater degree, its visual aesthetic. Tarsem is known for his unique visual flair. And though Immortals is decidedly mainstream, compared to former efforts The Cell and The Fall, almost every shot wrestles attention from the senses. Be it a rising tidal wave, or a shattered mountain, a salty desert, thunderstruck skyline or exploding head, Immortals should wake us up to the fact Zach Snyder isn’t the only one with an eye for breathtaking vistas.
Nor is he the only one who appreciates the importance of proper action. Lamentably, Immortals is not as action-packed as its marketing material suggests and could stand to gain another well-choreographed divine clash. However, for the majority of sequences, the action is meticulously designed, inventive, sports an otherworldly flair and is appropriately, inventively brutal. And unlike too many would be action films, Immortals peaks at the finale. Once the Gods finally descend, clad in gold armour, their weapons swung with time-bending speed, your eyes will gorge themselves on 2011’s most visually magnificent action scene! Though the BBFC cut our theatrical version, there’s ample decapitation, impalement, dismemberment and miscellaneous bone crunching to see even the most demanding action fan gratified.
As a whole, Immortals finds an agreeable middle ground between not being the pinnacle of the Legendary Epic genre it might have been, and having the courtesy to utterly smash our admittedly reserved expectations.Though iconic visuals and savage brawling will leave most with severe mouth foam, Immortals cannot quite match the style and swagger 300 deftly managed back in 2006. But lay your minds at ease, as mythic yarns go, Tarsem’s Immortals tramples 2010’s Clash of the Titans into the mud.
Rated 15A (see IFCO website for details)
Immortals is released on 11th November 2011