“300” has a lot to answer for. Since the success of the film based on Frank Miller’s graphic novel, we are seeing more and more flicks set in classical/mythological Greece and its surroundings — flicks which don’t bother with realism, logic, respect for history (or mythology!), or quality in any aspect beyond the comic-book-inspired tableau. “Immortals” is the latest of these, and follows right smack in the footsteps of its entertainment-oriented forbears.
Theseus (Henry Cavil) is a mortal, the bastard son of an outcast peasant. His village is destroyed by the evil King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who is determined to find a mythical bow and use it to release the Titans, creatures of unimaginable power who were caged by the gods and sealed beneath a mountain. Theseus winds up working with a virgin oracle (Frieda Pinto) and a thief (Stephen Dorff) to stop the mad king and save the world.
“Immortals” feels like it was rewritten several times, and not all scenes were brought up-to-date with the changes. The bow is a central part of the plot at first, but is barely used and eventually just dropped entirely. The filmmaker’s grasp of classical mythology is tenuous at best. Not only do the gods in this universe have a law that none of them may interfere in the affairs of mortals, but Poseidon (Kellan Lutz) is apparently the son of Zeus (Luke Evans) — who looks about 35.
But really, all of that is irrelevant. This is not a film driven by plot or myth or character. This is a film whose story exists entirely as a setup for the glorious action sequences and tableaus. Overwrought choral music, lasciviously-detailed slow-motion gore, and improbable architecture are everywhere, and the people are all either perfectly clean and well-groomed, or dirty in that artistic way that’s as unrealistic as being clean. We know pretty much instantly that Theseus and the Oracle are destined to get together because they’re both young and attractive, but there’s no chemistry between them. Of course, complaining about lack of chemistry or quality acting in a film like this is like complaining that a lizard doesn’t sing opera well.
This is a movie designed to make you gasp in amazement and gush later about how awesome everything looked. Watch as Zeus cuts a titan in half with a length of chain! Gasp as you see its intestines and other organs in a perfect cut-away view as it hangs in the air in slow-motion! Drool as the Oracle shucks her red dress and offers herself to Theseus! Cheer as Theseus makes a ridiculous speech to motivate the terrified Greeks to defend a wall!
If you’re looking for a quality movie about ancient Greek mythology, this is not the film for you. If you thought last year’s “Clash of the Titans” was epic, though, do not miss “Immortals.”