RUNNING TIME:110 mins
DISTRIBUTED BY: Universal Pictures International
REVIEWED BY:Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Eons ago, before animal and man walked the earth, the Gods defended the world from the evil Titans and imprisoned them in Mt Tartarus. Now, the cruel King Hyperion has declared war on humanity, and, gathering a bloodthirsty army of soldiers disfigured by his own hand, rampages through Greece in search of the Epirus Bow, a weapon of great power forged in on Mt Olympus by the god Ares. He who possesses it can unleash the Titans, and this Hyperion wants to achieve. When Hyperion sacks one particular village though, he slays the mother of a stonemason called Theseus. Though he is overcome by Hyperion’s men and placed unto slavery, he encounters the Sybelline Oracle, where Phaedra has had visions that convince her Theseus could be the one to save Greece……….
Greek mythology, despite having some of the most imaginative and exciting stories in the world, has had a bit of a raw deal when it comes to the cinema, that is when it’s been filmed at all, which is not very often. Although Jason And The Argonauts and Clash Of The Titans are terrifically entertaining romps, they do play fast and loose with the source material, and most of the Italian ‘muscleman’ movies from the late 50s and the 60s are just very poor. Disney’s Hercules, to me, is the best and most faithful depiction of Greek mythology which sounds like a strange statement I know. Of course last year’s Clash Of The Titans was a load of rubbish and sadly Immortals, despite having a script by two Greeks, isn’t much better. It’s Greek mythology for dummies. Elements from 300, The Lord Of The Rings, Conan The Barbarian and a load of other fantasy movies have been put into a blender but the result comes out tasting rather foul, a grinding, monotonous slog of a film which doesn’t even seem to try to be entertain very much.
It does seem rather promising at first, opening with rather scary shots of the Titans in their prison, and the background to the story is nicely shown via wall paintings, looking effectively strange and uncanny with certain elements sticking out at you. The first major action scene, with Theseus dispatching lots and lots of soldiers as he tries to save his mother, has a fantastic kinetic energy. However, the film soon gets sunk with its awful dialogue and idiotic scripting. The basis for the story of the film is the last bit of the story of Heracles, where the Titans attack Mt Olympus, and elements of the tale of Theseus are obviously mixed in, but everything is simplified and dumbed down to a moronic level, and sometimes down to the level of the horrid 300. Of course not everyone will be concerned that it’s faithful to its inspirations, they will just want to see a fun fantasy actioner, but sadly Immortals just isn’t much fun, in fact it has a heavy, grim feel much like the shoddy Conan The Barbarian remake. I’m not saying that the film should be full of jokes, but stories like these should be entertaining, they are not supposed to be borderline horror films. Likewise, dumb action movies can be great if done well, but Immortals just treats its audience with total contempt. Even if you have no knowledge of mythology, surely you would expect the Titans to be large, because you know the word ‘titan’ or ‘titanic’? Here though, they are of normal size.
Visually, at least, some effort has been made. Of course you would expect nothing less from the director of The Cell and The Fall, and Immortals is full of stunning sights. The camera follows arrows to their target, swoops up from the ground backwards into the air to end inside what turns out to be the eye of one of the Goddesses on Mt Olympus, and continually shoots things from strange angles, while almost everything is bathed in gold, as if Tarsim Singh is literally trying to turn shit into gold. He also shoots fight scenes well, often letting the camera remain still so we can properly see what is going on. However, these scenes are disappointingly short with the final Gods Vs Titans battle a bit of an anti-climax and suffering from cramped staging. I was looking forward to loads of God action, in the manner of The Illiad, and just didn’t get it. The mostly male Gods themselves, all young, pretty looking and usually topless, hang around Mt Olympus looking more like participants in some body lotion advert than anything else. In fact the whole film looks like some kind of gay sado-masochistic porno, what with all the fetishistic clothing design and showing off of bodies, except that that would probably more fun even to this ‘straight’ reviewer. The romance is pointless, and the characters all one note. Even the humans don’t seem very human. Then of course there’s lots of violence, with Hyperion in particular gouging out eyes and slitting throats with glee, but it’s all so boring and pointless, and by the way it’s easy to tell when shots have been removed to get that all-important ‘15’ rating.
Except for John Hurt as the obligatory ‘teacher’ character and Mickey Rourke in Iron Man 2 villaim mode, the acting is mostly very weak, with Henry Cavill in no way showing he would be a good Superman. Trevor Morris’ score has the odd nice slow tracks with unusual instrumentation, but most of the music sounds like the usual soulless Hans Zimmer-type rubbish you usually hear nowadays. Honestly, why the hell does every other film score these days have to sound the same? I’m sorry to say Immortals annoyed the hell out of me, a stupid, soulless mess of a film that had so much potential. I will admit it is superbly directed [though you may easily mistake it for a Zach Snyder movie] and is visually impressive, but pretty much everything else about this movie is garbage and if it wasn’t for the afore mentioned aspects it would really deseve two stars or less. Rather than getting involved in what was going on onscreen, I just kept wishing Zeus would really come down to Earth and imprison everyone involved with Immortals [and this includes the director for wasting time trying to polish a turd], in Mt Tartarus so that they can’t make another piece of crap like this again.
To read Matt Wavish’s review, click here: https://horrorcultfilms.co.uk/2011/11/immortals-2011-out-now-in-cinemas/