(15) Running time: 110 mins
Reviewed by: Matt Wavish, official HCF critic
The name Tarsem Singh may not be a familiar one, the director of the underrated gem The Cell and the criminally ignored The Fall, is not exactly a household name, yet. However, the director has effortlessly made the jump into the big leagues with his new, ultra stylish Greek epic Immortals and has managed to make 3D cool again. I have said for years now, give Singh a large budget and he will be dangerous, and with all the build up, expectations and excitement for me at the prospect of Singh working with a large budget I would like to say right here, right now “Singh, I would love to shake your hand mate” Why? Well, because after the amount of disappointments this year of films built up only to crash land in failure (apart from a select few) Immortals is finally a film which delivers everything it has promised, and then some! Immortals is the most polished, stylish and fascinating big budget special effects extravaganza you will see this side of Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises, fact! I can’t see anything topping this for sheer grand scale and adrenalin fuelled brilliance for some time, and I will very happily say that I had the time of my life watching this on the biggest, loudest screen I could find, and I urge you to do the same.
The plot is the least most important aspect to this film, but it needs to have one, and a simple tale of a young peasant being the one man to lead an army against an evil King has been done a thousand times over, but never to look like this! Theseus (Cavill) is that peasant; he grew up with nothing but his Mother and an old man (John Hurt) who taught him how to fight. King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is leading his army of vile, horrific soldiers and beasts on a pillage to find the mysterious Epirus Bow, a weapon that can free the imprisoned Titans and set about the destruction of mankind, or at the very least cause the Gods to intervene. Hyperion is an evil man, with a massive scar on his face, Rourke eats up his role perfectly and he will literally stop at nothing to get his hands on the weapon. While on his rampage around Greece, his army stumble upon Theseus’ and kill everyone, including his Mother. A defector from the soldiers in the village made Hyperion aware of the innocent people, and as Theseus is taken captive, rage sets in. With the Gods looking on, Theseus meets a Monk and a thief and finally Phaedra, an Oracle who can see the future and who knows of Theseus’ power. Breaking free from imprisonment, Theseus heads off to form an army to stop Hyperion and his savage ways, and try and stop him from unleashing the Titans.
You really don’t need to know much more than that, the story is all about Gods, Titans, mankind, evil Kings and there is even a love story added. The plot is very simple to follow, but it is how Singh presents his film that makes the whole thing simply out of this world. The directors trademark visual style is here, but on a much larger scale and the special effects are absolutely flawless. The attention to detail here is staggering, not a single frame is wasted and on the biggest screen available, this will quite simply blow you away. Singh’s often nightmarish, dreamlike look borders on horror in places, with vicious torture devices used by Hyperion, the Titans themselves caged up with bars across their mouths and wild glaring eyes, there is even a Beast which is let loose to hunt and kill Theseus in a wonderful fight scene that is like nothing you have ever seen before. The fight scenes throughout the film are magnificent, with the usually annoying slow-motion adding real impact and ferociousness. You can tell the producers of 300 had a hand in this, but make no mistake, this is Singh’s film, from beginning to bloody end, it has his stamp all over it. Strangely, fight scenes are not over extended either, never out staying their welcome in order to leave a lasting impression. The final battle is wonderful, and a final scene leading into the end credits shows off both Singh’s incredible and unique vision and really uses 3D to a blistering result (although it is a very short scene). The God’s even have a go, crash landing to Earth and when they do get involved and fight you will almost want to jump out of your seat and punch the air in true macho fashion I kid you not. Singh has a way of getting that adrenalin pumping and for the final half an hour I was literally on the edge of my seat with a stupid, childish grin on my face!
The sound effects as well, oh my, be prepared to have you eardrums battered by thunderous noise and earth shattering music. Immortals is loud, very loud so you won’t need to worry about some inconsiderate bastard rustling packets of sweets as you simply won’t hear them, even if they are sat right next to you! Again, Singh’s trademark off the wall music is present and correct, and adds a real sense of unease to the film, which is a good thing. One scene where Poseidon, in dramatic style, flies down to Earth and pummels his way into the sea to create a tidal wave far more impressive than anything Roland Emmerich could dream of will quite possibly deafen you! This whole film is about impact and that all important wow factor, and it has it, by God does it have it. The cast all appear to be loving every minute, with Rourke being possibly the highlight and playing one of the finest cartoonish bad guys of the year. He is a mountain of a man, hideous, frightening and damn near perfect. The only complaint about his character is at times he does mumble his words and is a little difficult to hear, but this is a minor flaw and one that can easily be forgiven.
So, does the film have any flaws at all? Well, there is just one that I can think of, and that is the fact Zeus was a bit wet. He is supposed to be the God of Lightening, a God who likes the fun of seeing how far he can push people, and who looked at mankind as a bit of a game. He was, I suppose, a bit barbaric, however in Immortals he is shown to care a little too much for mankind. However, in a wonderful scene he makes it clear to the God’s that they must not intervene. This is a minor issue as well, as the rest of the film can easily make you see past this, and to be fair to Luke Evans, he actually plays the part very well indeed. All the Gods are played well, and Mount Olympus itself looks stunning. I honestly cannot think of any other issues with this film, the story may drag ever so slightly, but that is simply because you can’t wait for the next big spectacle, and the spectacle’s come thick and fast. Singh has done himself proud, and even though Immortals may be a little too arty for some tastes, this here reviewer loved every darned second and I really was that close to turning round, sitting back down and watching it all over again! 3D is back, Tarsem Singh is back, having fun at the cinema is back and there is no doubt I will be heading back to watch this again, a staggering, blistering, fearless achievement!