Greek mythology has often been the product of numerous film interpretations. Why? The stories of heroism, of gods and men have always held a certain charm for mainstream audiences. Movies such as the original “Clash of the Titans” (which also spawned an action focused remake), and “Troy” have resulted with a good box-office take. Now, the producers of “300” and director Tarsem Singh takes on the Greek myth of Theseus, the Minotaur and of King Hyperion in 2011 with the film “Immortals”. The film was originally titled “Dawn of War” and “War of the Gods” before they settled with the title “Immortals”. It would be safe to say that the film is loosely based on the story of Theseus and Hyperion and takes a more focused style towards swordplay and brutal, bloody fights than actually bringing the Greek myth to life.
Some years after the Titanomachy in the 1200‘s B.C., King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) declares a war on humanity and is seeking out the Epirus Bow, a legendary weapon created by the war god Ares (Daniel Shaman) which can free the captive Titans from the mountain of Tartarus. The Titans will then take vengeance on the Olympians who brought about their defeat many ages ago. Because of ancient law, the gods cannot take action against Hyperion and to directly intervene with humanity’s fate. It is left to Theseus (Henry Cavill), who had been chosen by Zeus (Luke Evans) and his companions made up of a priestess called Phaedra (Frieda Pinto) and a thief called Stavros (Stephen Dorff) to protect mankind and to spare the gods of a second war against the titans….
The film is pretty much a standard action film that uses Greek mythology as its backdrop. References to Greek myth is rich throughout the film, and it uses them to weave a tale about heroism, vengeance, honor and destiny. The screenplay by Vlas and Charley Parlapanides takes those elements and re-interprets them to fit the film’s narrative; it succeeds on certain areas and on others, it doesn’t. It seems like the writers of the film were intent on having a sort of ‘reality’ mixed in with mythology, and how certain mythic stories are based on truth, and was exaggerated to further the needs of legend. The Minotaur, the silver bull idol and the gods themselves have been re-imagined and re-tooled to fit its narrative; and in this manner, it loses a lot of the original story’s roots, and the film becomes a gritty, bloody and action-packed CGI extravaganza that is aimed for commercial viewers.
Not that such intentions were a bad thing. The film is very bloody and one look at the set designs and you could see the influences of “300” (even includes a voiceover by John Hurt who also plays an older Zeus). The thing is, “300” was based on a graphic novel and on this, it was very successful. I am not sure how I feel about the story of Theseus deviating from the original tale, but I guess I’ll have to accept that it wasn’t meant to be an adaptation. This is Theseus’ story through the eyes of the filmmakers and their intentions are to deliver as much brutal, bloody action as they could. On this, the film succeeds, as it proves to be real entertaining from an action standpoint. “Immortals” is a machismo-laden film that is nice to look at and fun to watch; as long as this is the type of movie you are into.
The special effects in the film are quite good and I could feel a sort of gritty, tough, rough, and a touch of a majestic tone through it all. I saw some touches of the Renaissance painting style in the manner the designs were rendered, with the gritty and tough appeal of “300”. I could really feel that this is a time for warriors, and that the way of a sword may be the only way to survive. The fights are barbaric and rather bloody (and even gory) for most of the film‘s scenes. It was a way to express the urgency of the stakes, and emotion; yes, it feels rather superficial, but I would be lying if I said that certain viewers would be right at home with the film. It truly earns its R rating as you see limbs being hacked off, heads are rolling, and blood are splattered all over the scenes. The designs of the characters are decent and they seem to be the warriors of the old days and accompanied with more machismo through its dialogue, the film feels very raw. “Immortals” was intended to be this way, and with the inclusion of some sex and nudity, this film is not for kids.
I do have some issues with the character designs of the Greek gods, as they appear to have too much golden garb around them. Seems like martial arts are the gods style of fighting, and while they were great from a visual standpoint, I had mixed feelings about them. It seems to be the common Hollywood staple to create fight scenes and it appeared misplaced. I would’ve preferred a more godly way of fighting, and how their specific powers should’ve been brought into the scenes, but I guess the direction wanted to stay within the realms of barbaric battles. The shots are very similar to the way “300” was shot, and if I did not know better, I would’ve said that Zack Snyder had a hand in the film’s production. Singh did know what he wanted to do, but he seemed to have lost some footing in the film's middle part, as it dragged in the areas of plot development.
As for the characters, well, Henry Cavill makes for a decent lead I suppose. He has the physique and the charisma to pull off a peasant warrior that rises from the ranks. Pinto is alluring as the priestess, and she exudes that sexy appeal that truly drew my attention. Mickey Rourke remains an actor that makes a good villain, and his portrayal of Hyperion had a sense of someone with no conscience and he can be alarmingly creepy if you see him standing in front of you. John Hurt was underused as the old Zeus and I was not fond of the younger Zeus played by Luke Evans (but of all the gods, Isabel Lucas was eye-catching as Athena). Dorff’s role felt rather unneeded and the film could’ve done without his character. The soundtrack of the film had ‘bang’ but I wouldn’t say it was filled with majesty, nonetheless, it matched the cinematography and style of the film.
“Immortals” is in no means a bad film, but it is just something that can said as in ‘escapist popcorn entertainment’. It appears aimed to the male viewer, as the numerous devices in the film was just so simple, and yet it can awaken the raw testosterone in the male viewer. It is not something memorable, but then again, some movies were not meant to be such. “Immortals” is an exercise in balls-to-walls action and eye-candy effects which can appear to be very superficial and a little shallow in storytelling, but whatever it does, it just does it so well. It is indeed for its intended audience and it can be highly entertaining to the right viewer.
Timid Recommendation for Action Junkies (like me), Rental for everybody else [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
*1/2 out of **** One of the first scenes in "Immortals" reveals the power hungry king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) as he begins his epic quest for vengeance. We are told that he is searching for a legendary weapon known as the Epirus Bow, which was used by the immortals (the beings that came before man) during wartime, lost for all these years. It would seem that, in this particular scene, the king has located it; and intends to use the bow to release the so-called "titans" so … more
I love those old movies about the Greek Gods and Goddesses. Ray Harryhausen was the master back when I was a kid. The remake of his classic Clash of the Titans was a bit of a disappointment to me. So I went to see the Immortals with a little bit of reluctance. So I was pleasantly surprised to find this film a lot of fun. The special effects are excellent and in my opinion the 3D effects were used very well, which is not always the case. Of course the old movies from the 50's and 60's were … more
Star Rating: Immortals is visually extravagant – a triumph of special effects, costume design, and art direction. This is to be expected from Tarsem, who belongs on the same shelf as Tim Burton as one of the most unique visually inclined directors alive. While not the film’s greatest achievement, he should be commended for shooting it in 3D and successfully translating the process into a theater format. For the first time in what seems like ages, … more
Visually arresting, and has more violent action scenes than one may expect. "Immortals" is extremely nice to behold and I would be stupid to deny its entertainment value. The plot and the characters may be a little uninspired, as the film focuses more on the grittiness and raw narrative 'bang' filled with machismo, and attitude. The set designs and violence are a treat to look at, and may be for its intended viewer. One needs to forget their actual interpretations of the Greek … more