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Immortals [3D]
Genre Fantasy

Immortals is yet another action-fantasy epic in a spate of Ancient World mythology-based adventures. Frank Miller's 300 and the popularity of the God of War video game series has sparked off a fascination with tragic Greek heroes, resulting in visual-intensive 3D follow-ups in Clash of the Titans and now Immortals. Despite the comparisons and influence, Zack Snyder's virtual back lot technique remains in its own league with 300 head-and-shoulders above the latest blockbuster offerings. 

Immortals tells the epic story of Theseus, a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion, who is in search of a weapon that can destroy humanity. The story is rooted in Greek mythology, but doesn't carry much weight in what becomes a series of check points, allowing the powerful visuals to wash over the screenplay's garish blemishes.

Immortals [3D] is directed by Tarsem Singh, best known for the nightmare that is The Cell. Singh has experience in working with high-end visual effects and gives Immortals strong contrasts between the golden shimmer of the gods and the dark, swirling evil of Hyperion. However, Singh hasn't managed to derive the best from his fine ensemble, who seem devoted more to the quest than hollowing out a space for their own characters to exist. 

That same vacuous head space that haunted Sam Worthington in Clash of the Titans returns in Immortals to curse Henry Cavill. While physically up to the challenge and a strong match for appearance, Cavill shows a hero's determination, but doesn't possess that inner angst that Gerard Butler exhibited. Mickey Rourke steadies Immortals with his experience in a charismatic tyrannical performance that steals the spotlight, but it just overshadows Theseus. 

The supporting ensemble is made up of a fascinating collection of actors including: Stephen Dorff, Frieda Pinto, Luke Evans and John Hurt. The more experienced Dorff and Hurt give the production more credibility with their star power, but their performances are forgettable. Pinto and Evans take up a bit of the slack as the enigmatic Oracle and Zeus although their performances are limited by a pithy script and poor characterisation.

Immortals feels more like Roland Emmerich's 10,000 B.C. than 300, creating a beautiful yet false environment and trying to convince us that Greek mythology fits into history as a reality. The domain in which real men and gods co-exist is a bit baffling and laughable as Greek gods plunge from the heavens in their silly garments to do battle. They're portrayed like superheroes instead of immortals and this comic sensibility destroys the seriousness of the quest for the mortals.

The costume design is distracting. It's as if the Mad Hatter had a crack at the wardrobe style, delivering over-the-top headgear for the main players. It's this sort of poor decision-making that permeates the rest of the film with executioners swinging mallets at groins and overly elaborate breathing equipment. The film-makers have almost tried to explain away the magic and mythology of the story, making it just feel over-produced instead of epic.

The fight sequences are one redeeming feature as beautifully choreographed Matrix style "bullet-time" violence glides across the screen as if lifted from a Greek vase. The gore factor is moderate with exploding heads and a majestic climax to cap things off. Tarsem Singh has created a beautiful tapestry of light, shapes and colour with finesse and style, but there's too little substance and very few convincing performances - making the story fall flat. Poor decision-making and distracting costume design makes for unintentional laughs, leaving the audience with an uninspired and substandard movie experience.

The bottom line: Pretty.


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