One of the beauties of a film by Tarsem Singh is that you’re guaranteed to get some impressive visuals in a film. Alongside Zack Snyder, Singh’s one of the best in the business at maximizing a film’s look. You can’t help but watch the man at work in his films as he never ceases to impress in his composition of shots, his use of scoring and how he designs a scene. And in terms of visually impressive films, Immortals is an even better put together film than either The Fall or The Cell.
The problem with it is that there’s nothing behind it.
Immortals is a grand epic set in ancient Greece following Theseus (Henry Cavill), caught up in the middle of a power struggle between man and gods. Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) is a king hell-bent on releasing ancient evils onto the world using the power of a magical bow of legend. Zeus (Luke Evans) has chosen him to prevent this but prevented the Gods from helping out; armed with a thief sidekick (Stephen Dorff) and a virginal prophet (Freida Pinto), it’s up to Theseus to lead humanity against Hyperion and thereby save the world from its destruction by a king gone mad.
And as a visually arresting spectacle, it’s hard to undersell Singh’s latest. This is a brilliantly put together film if you look at solely from an audio/visual perspective. There’s always something interesting happening and the film’s battle scenes are amongst some of the best of the year. Singh has outdone himself with this film but he also has a significantly larger budget, too, than he’s ever had so it’s easy to say he’s put it all on the screen. Considering he had slightly more than 1/3 of the budget Michael Bay did for the third Transformers film, to boot, he’s put together the year’s best film on a pure spectacle basis.
The problem is that he didn’t bring a good story alongside it.
This is a generic period action piece, a homeless man’s version of 300 at best. It makes sure to hit all the signature type moments and bring out some strong slow-motion piece but it’s odd to think that Tarsem Singh would make a similar film that Brett Ratner would in this situation. And that’s exactly what he’s done; he’s taken a 300 level type swords and sandals film, complete with the sort of cheesy lines of dialogue that could elevate themselves into excellence with the right tone, and just focused on the visual and not the emotional.
There’s no reason to care about any of the proceedings because none of the characters have anything besides quick archetypes used to necessarily move the story forward. The film, presented in 3D as well, has little emotional depth to it. The film’s big finale falls flat because we have no vested interest in any of the characters. It looks pretty but there’s nothing behind it to make it memorable after the moment has passed.
Immortals looks the part of an epic period piece but doesn’t do anything beyond look it.
There’s an Alternate Opening and Ending to the film, neither of which do much more than the originals. Deleted Scenes don’t add much back into the film, either.
There’s a unique Graphic Novel made from the film, as well, which is an interesting read. A handful of production featurettes are included, as well, but don’t amount to a lot of insight into the film.
If there’s a film that warrants a Blu-ray presentation for its unique visuals, Immortals is it. But high definition can’t cure a film that wants to be 300 without any of the story-telling nuance to go with it.
20th Century Fox presents Immortals . Directed by Tarsem Singh. Starring Henry Cavill, Stephen Dorff, Luke Evans, Isabel Lucas, Kellan Lutz, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke. Written by Vlas and Charley Parlapandides. Running time: 110 minutes. Rated R. Released on Blu-ray: March 6, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.