By Mathew Dekinder
The movie “300” was important because it was one of the first films to fully embrace the idea that action movies are all about style over substance. The movie “Immortals” embraces the “300” template and while it lumbers under its plot of hodgepodge Greek mythology, it is unquestionably one of the most visually stunning, ridiculous action movies you’ll ever lay eyes on.
By combining gorgeous art direction and lighting most often reserved for Renaissance oil paintings, director Tarsem Singh goes all-in on the movie’s visuals while ignoring virtually everything else.
Fortunately amidst the stodgy plotting and one-dimensional characters, Mickey Rourke strides onscreen to give a little weight and credibility to living-breathing humans bouncing around amidst this living painting.
Rourke plays the barbaric King Hyperion who wages war against the ancient Greeks in order to free the Titans, an imprisoned race of immortal warriors who are the only threat to the classical Greek gods whom Hyperion has deemed to be unjust and uncaring.
The only hope for gods and man lays in Theseus (Henry Cavill, who is polishing up on his heroics before assuming the cape in the next Superman movie) a peasant warrior who has no idea he was fathered by the king of the gods, Zeus(Luke Evans).
Along the way Theseus picks up a best friend in the form of Stavros (Stephen Dorff) and a love interest in Phaedra the Oracle (Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”).
But really the actors are all just window dressing, with the exception of Rourke whom I’m now fairly convinced would have risen to a similar position of power if only he’d been born 3,000 years earlier. (Civilization is the only thing stopping him from crushing skulls on a daily basis.)
“Immortals” builds to a spectacular climax and is at its glorious best when the swords start clashing, the blood starts flying and the gods in their luminous armor drop from the heavens in a slow-motion showdown with the Titans.
Singh’s directorial credits are fairly limited as he is best known for the trippy serial-killer flick “The Cell” and R.E.M.’s iconic video for “Losing My Religion.” Both have an unmistakable visual style that Singh unrelentingly flaunts in “Immortals.”
At its core “Immortals” is nothing more than a silly and dismissible, swords and sandals extravaganza of violence. But man, oh man is it pretty to look at.
“Immortals” is rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence, and a scene of sexuality.
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