‘Immortal’ fails to outlive storyline boredom

by Nick Growall

Staff writer

In his third film, Tarsem Singh combines his knack for extreme, vibrant visuals with Greek mythology to create the latest swords-and-sandals epic, “Immortals.”

The end result is something between his first film, the visually twisted psychotic thriller “The Cell” and the over-the-top, testosterone-fueled action epic “300.”

The film loosely follows the Greek myth of Theseus (Henry Cavill) and his struggle against King Hyperion (Mickey Rouke), who is scouring the land in search of the powerful Epirus Bow, laying waste to mankind in his quest to destroy the gods for not saving his family from death.

Zeus (Luke Evans) and the gods have left the fate of mankind in the hands of Theseus, who must choose whether or not to accept his destiny to overthrow Hyperion.

Singh translates the myths into a highly-stylized and twisted realism.

For example, the Minotaur, instead of being an actual beast that Theseus faces, is actually a giant of a man who wears a barbwire-clad helmet in the form of a bullhead.

This interpretation is filled with eye-popping imagery and brutal action scenes, creating an interesting mix of gritty realism surrounded by the stylized scenery that looks like a Renaissance painting come to life.

However, the story doesn’t quite stand up to the gripping visuals.

The movie moves very slowly from one action scene to another, and the characters aren’t given much room to develop.

Henry Cavill, who will be playing Superman next summer in the “Man of Steel,” makes for a great lead but isn’t given much to work with.

His rousing speech before the climactic battle comes off a bit cheesy due to the dialogue, but it doesn’t help when his followers are wildly banging their shields and screaming like a bunch of crazy college football fans.

Mickey Rouke (“The Wrestler,” “Iron Man 2”) does an excellent job playing the barbaric Hyperion, making him a slightly sympathetic character, while bringing an intimidating presence with a sense that there’s no line he won’t cross in his quest for revenge.

The supporting cast does an good job as well, featuring the beautiful Frieda Pinto (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”) playing an oracle who falls in love with Theseus, and Stephen Dorff as the cunning thief Starvos who joins our hero on his quest.

Luke Evans (“Clash of the Titans”) brings great presence to the role of a young Zeus, while John Hurt projects elderly wisdom as Zeus’ earthly form who trains Theseus.

But as good as the cast is, they’re unable to make up for the storytelling, which at times comes off as stoic and boring.

“Immortals” is a feast for the eyes but falls short when it comes to story. I suggest watching it in 2-D if possible, sparing yourself from paying two extra bucks to see it in lackluster 3-D.

If you’re a fan of Greek mythology and action epics, then I think you’ll really enjoy it.

But don’t go in expecting anything on the level of “Gladiator” when it comes to storytelling.

 

Henry Cavill stars as Theseus in “Immortals.” (Photo courtesy of imdb.com)