Directed by Tarsem Singh. Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Kellan Lutz, Freida Pinto, Luke Evans. (2011, R, 110 min.)
REVIEWED By Kimberley Jones, Fri., Nov. 18, 2011
What Tarsem Singh's first two films, 2000's The Cell and 2006's The Fall, lacked in narrative articulateness he balanced out with visual verve. The two films couldn't have been more different in terms of setting – one is about a contemporary serial killer; the other, a bedridden Hollywood stuntman in the 1920s – but they shared a more elemental idea: that damaged psyches can create a fictional space that is part refuge, part terrorscape, and then invite others into that space for a mythic quest ornamented with strange beasts and primeval imagery.
Which, I suppose, made Singh a no-brainer – at least on paper – to take on an actual Greek myth, or at least a cobbled-together one, in Immortals. But in putting Singh's ancients-recalling aesthetic into something like its correct context, the thumpingness of his vision has turned rather tinny.
Future Superman Henry Cavill plays Theseus, a blank-eyed, bastard-born villager who, unbeknownst to him, has been hand-picked by the Olympian gods (done up in Studio 54 gold lamé) to lead a revolt against the bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Rourke). There's more to the story (by co-screenwriters Charley and Vlas Parlapanides) – a magical bow, a sexy virgin oracle (Pinto), caged Titans, none of it terribly interesting – but plot points exist primarily to get the film from one gruesome act to the next. Barbarity, of course, was the Greek gods' bread and butter, but there's more to thrill at in three lines of Homer than the whole of Singh's numbingly choreographed chaos and lascivious bloodletting. The Greek myths, of course, will endure. The same cannot be said for Singh's silly, self-serious, instantly forgettable, and inaptly named Immortals.