Long before man rode these lands, there was a war in heaven. The victors declared themselves ‘Gods’ – while the vanquished were renamed ‘Titans’ and forever imprisoned in the bowels of Mount Tartarus…
This folks, is the basic premise of the recently released movie “Immortals” by director Tarsem Singh, a director who I’m actually quite fond of and who’s movies have been consistently good and visually fascinating without fail. This ability for visually captivating his audience is a calling card and one that he fully utilizes with this movie and his big Hollywood budget.
Now, on to the review proper!
For any of you who are mythology purists and the like, be warned that this is NOT a historically accurate movie. It is a loose adaptation of various elements of Greek mythology and in my opinion is everything that the entertainingly-stupid Clash of the Titans should have been but utterly failed to achieve.
In this version of things we have a merging of the saga of the Titanomachy (or the War of the Titans) with that of Theseus who braved the labyrinth to kill the deadly Minotaur. As in the original mythology, the Titans were defeated by the pantheon led by Zeus (Luke Evans) and banished and imprisoned in Tartarus, though in this case Tartarus is not so much the Greek hell as the name of a mountain with a vast, walled fortress attached to it – much like the fortress at Helm’s Deep in LotR now that I think on it. But this is all quibbles, no mortal can access the depths of the mountain under which the Titans remain imprisoned and visually are the utter opposite of the gleaming and beautiful Gods.
Thesesus (Henry Cavill) is not here the prince who sails to a distant island to brave a Minotaur – no, here he is simply the son of a single mother with no known father (I’ll leave detailing at that) who grows up a good, strong fellow and is taught to fight and such by an old man (John Hurt) who lives not all that far from the village/town that Thesues calls home.
Meanwhile we have the brutally amazing Mickey Rourke as Hyperion, the main villain of this piece. In original mythos, Hyperion was the name of one of the Titans who were cast down in fact, so its somewhat a nice touch that his name is given to the character who despises the Gods and declares at the start that he will bring war to the gods and release the Titans themselves. Oh and to accomplish this he needs a fabled weapon – the Epirus Bow – that cannot be found except by the Virgin Oracle named Phaedra, in this case played by India’s own exported of the month: Friedo Pinto.
So there’s the basic setup – Gods, mortals, beautiful women, brutal warlords and all hell literally about to break loose.
The movie itself, I have to admit was stunning. Visually it was a feast (something I could not help but already touch upon in the early going) and Tarsem Singh deserves acclaim just for his execution here – especially the fight scenes! Bloody hell! It was some of the most entertaining blood-letting I’ve ever seen and such a wonderful change from the now dragging and annoyingly repetitive slow-down-speed-up fixation that movies have had, more or less since 300 rocked that style. His version of the Gods in battle was to die for – literally!
So Hyperion is rampaging across Hellenic civilisation and threatening to wipe it out of existence and the fate of humanity rests on them getting it together and the leadership of Theseus – a gifted mortal, touched by the Gods. Ok so its like a blessing and taking a special interest in him, but not actively giving him anything. That becomes very clear in the very early going.
The story was not perfect, but by most standards and by that which Hollywood has been producing for the past decade(s), it was cohesive, logical and had a nice flow that carried the story forward at a brisk enough pace – without sacrificing some character development and depth in the overall experience. For this the films makers should take a bow because personally I find that Hollywood see’s “epic” or “mythology” and the brains seem to shut down to a pretty idiotic level of desire and go for style over substance, often too much style or just one that looks terrible. A good movie is an overall experience, one aspect can be better then another, but usually within reason no?
The acting was also very well executed from an ensemble that I was truly impressed by -the lead, Henry Cavill as Theseus, showed he had the chops to not just play an action hero, but to be larger-than-life and still show humanity, something that will serve him very well and gives me hope for his next big outing to come as The Man of Steel. Stephen Dorff was a fine choice of casting as Stavros, he’s never been all that big commercially, but I’ve always found him to be terribly under-rated – his turn as Deacon Frost in Blade is still among my favourite movie villains of all time. The Gods themselves had the most limited characterisation in terms of screen time and such, but all of them did a surprising job, though the standout was without exception Isabel Lucas who was a blink-and-miss stunner in the miserable Transformers 3 – but she has more then redeemed herself with a good turn here as Athena, goddess of wisdom, and not only does she own the screen with her demure demeanor but she has a couple of the best action moments in the whole movie.
But by far the leader of the pack, the owner of this movie and the man of the hour is none other than Mickey Rourke! Villains are always fun and a good villain is someone we all LOVE to hate, but Rourke turns Hyperion into something else – he takes this character and owns it, making him hateful and brutal and sadistic and everything you would despise in a man and a leader. Yet there is something in him that you can’t help but like, can’t help but grudgingly give a modicum of respect to and be drawn in by, such is the intensity.
Overall: I would highly recommend this movie to pretty much everyone, I even took my younger sister with me to see it and she enjoyed it a lot as well. Unless you just have an aversion to violence or a propensity for simple, happy and rom-com type fare, go watch this movie. Films like this are what need to see success and be appreciated so that perhaps studios might produce more like it and less mind-less popcorn fare every damn year!
Rating: 4/5 with ease!
This year has been a crappy year in some way for ‘guy’ movies – but this and stuff like this has been tiding me over until next year, the year of the GUY! Don’t believe me? See some of the lineup I’m looking forward to: Dark Knight Rises, Underworld 4, The Grey, Bourne 4, Judge Dredd, Ghost Rider, John Carter, Avengers and of course the new James Bond!
Next up will be my Weekly Wayfarer on Wednesday so I’ll see you all then! In the meantime, here’s a little extra, a high-res wallpaper of Phaedra/Frieda for your viewing pleasure. Cheers!