*This is a review of the 2D version, so there's no discussion of the 3D aspect of the film which was converted in post-production*
Visually impressive but fatally lacking in every other area, Tarsem Singh’s Immortals squanders a almost foolproof blueprint – a eons-old battle between Gods and Titans – by focussing on the least captivating aspect. Future Superman Henry Cavill tries gamely as Theseus, the mortal chosen by Zeus to lead his people in the fight against the evil King Hyperion, but with a threadbare plot, the scenes that don’t feature some brutal, spectacularly staged action, drag; it’s not helped by the fact that a pretty ludicrous main plot thread – revolving around a mythical bow that can destroy humanity – is treated as Oscar fare by everyone apart from Mickey Rourke who has a ball as the OTT villain Hyperion. A lighter touch would have ensured Immortals doesn’t feel as though it goes on for an eternity.
There’s no denying that Tarsem has an eye for arresting visuals though and, at times, you can just lie back and soak them in. A fabulous climax, juxtaposing three different conflicts, is just phenomenal; visceral and with a use of ultra slow-mo that Zack Snyder would deem excessive, it’s jaw-droppingly brilliant and has to be seen on the big screen. It gives the film an ending it scantly deserves and with the epilogue hinting at a promising direction for a potential sequel, you’re just left feeling that that should have been the direction this film took. Quite simply, there’s just not enough action and even less that involves anything other than mere mortals.
If anything, the trailer gives away a massive spoiler as we’re told at the start of the film that only the bow can free the Titans from where the Gods entrapped them and – just in case you haven’t seen the trailer, we’ll leave it vague – it’s already pretty clear what will happen. What you won’t expect is that it only happens as we head into the final third; for the rest of the time, the Gods – one impressive bludgeoning sequence and one wave-inducing scene aside – are happy just watching on from Mount Olympus. We’re generally loathe to say so, but there’s too much attempt to set up a plot where a 300 approach (dialogue just as branch to the next action scene) that served that film so perfectly, would have immeasurably improved Immortals.
Cast-wise, as previously mentioned, only Cavill and Rourke come away with anything resembling credit; Cavill suitably fills out a rather blank, seen-it-all-before role and nails the rousing pre-battle speech, while Rourke revels in the no-grey-areas evil role that’s required of him. Everyone else is pretty nondescript, from Freida Pinto’s virgin Oracle, Phaedra (although she looks stunning and provides a welcome distraction from the glistening abs elsewhere) to Luke Evans’ bland Zeus. However, if other elements were in place – such as the dialogue getting as much attention as the visuals – it perhaps wouldn’t have been as much as an issue. As it is though, they simply add another forgettable element to a film that is unlikely to live long in the memory.