Tarsem Singh directed Immortals, which is readily apparent from the first few seconds. There are few directors working today with such a distinct visual style, and that can be commended – to some extent. What he doesn’t have is a good grasp on how to build a narrative, and so his films play better as an instillation pieces. His movies are filled with pretty images, but they don’t really build a greater narrative. With Immortals he’s got the story of the Greek gods, with humans Theseus (Henry Cavill) facing up against Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), while the gods (Luke Evans, Isabella Lucas, Kellan Lutz) watch and decide if they risk helping mortals. Our review of the Blu-ray of Immortals follows after the jump.
Rourke’s Hyperion is a brutal king, decimating the lands in front of him. He wants to free the titans, who are the evil version of the “normal” gods above. This will lead to a big fight. On the other side is the orphan Theseus (Cavill) who fights for the good guys, especially after Hyperion kills his mom. He gets enslaved, and meets up with Stavros (Stephen Dorff), and a virginal seer named Phaedra (Freida Pinto). When they free themselves, Theseus goes after a mighty bow that can kill most of his enemies easily, and he hopes to use it against Hyperion (obvs).
Tarsem’s films are something of a question of taste. In Immortals his visual style overwhelms the narrative to the point that I found it hard to care about what amounts to an origin story of a bad ass. Theseus goes through all the machinations of the heroes journey – with the needed powerful weapon that it turns out he doesn’t need – but at no point did I find myself caring about anyone on screen. Partly because the performances are all covered in decorative costumes and set design. It’s hard to pay attention to the foreground.
Only Mickey Rourke seems to have enough gravitas (and possibly ham) to not be dwarfed by his costuming; he brings a great energy to his work. But Henry Cavill looks good, and seems to be a competent actor – he’ll probably kill it as Superman when that comes out – but here he offers little to latch on to besides looking handsome. And everyone looks pretty but has little characterization, other than Rourke only Stephen Dorff makes much of an impression. The film is gorgeous to look at, but when it comes to delivering on the action beats of a film like this, Tarsem is at a loss. The action scenes are well staged, but mostly involve beautiful actions, with no narrative drive. And so when Theseus loses his bow it’s not devastating, and the bow feels like a Macguffin that the filmmaker didn’t bother to set up. Its loss to Hyperion never feels like a devastating loss so much as misplaced keys.
I imagine that a film like this plays better whilst intoxicated, but it feels so busy and without any character to latch on to, completely weightless.
Twentieth Century Fox has released Immortals on Blu-ray and its presented widescreen (1.78:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD. The Blu also comes with a digital copy. The film is gorgeous to look at so it helps that the transfer is excellent. This was a post-conversion 3-D transfer, so that may help (there is a 3-D Blu-ray also available). Extras kick off with “It’s No Myth” (5 min.) which mostly walks through the power off the Greek mythology and then segues into talking about the film. “Caravaggio meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision” (20 Min.) is a four part making of that walk through the shooting and scoring of the film, with a greater focus on the stunts and effects work. There’s an alternate opening with a young Theseus (12 min.) which uses kids to set up the movie, and it’s followed by two alternate endings “This is our Last Embrace” (9 min.) and “Theseus Kills Hyperion” (4 min.) which modestly toy with how the main character’s fate is played out. It’s followed by eight deleted scenes (8 min.). There’s also a still gallery of the film’s comic book, and the film’s theatrical trailer.