There’s something timeless about Greek heroes, mortals battling for human freedom from the whims of the fickle Gods looking down from Mount Olympus. From time immemorial, we’ve been fascinated with angry Zeus, beautiful Athena, tempestuous Poseidon, and the rest of the gang, suffering through their all-too-mortal weaknesses even while living immortal lives.
The core story of ‘Immortals’ is woven from this familiar fabric and centers around the evil King Hyperion (a typically scroungy Mickey Rourke) and the chosen mortal warrior Theseus (A moody, volatile Henry Cavill), who is called upon by Zeus (Luke Evans) to fight for humans to retain free will rather than bow under the infinite power of the Epirus Bow. Every hero needs a fair maiden, and in ‘Immortals’ that’s seer and priestess Phaedra (Freida Pinto, looking lovely).
The film, however, suffers from being too inspired by splattery gore-fests like ‘The Walking Dead’ and its obvious predecessor, ‘300’, not to mention scenes that are curiously reminiscent of ‘Lord of the Rings’, especially the climactic battle at the gates of Minas Tirith. With constant slow-motion sword fights, too many scenes of torture, and blood everywhere, ‘Immortals’ suffers from being a bit too messy for even my tastes. Definitely do not drink a V8 while watching it!
More importantly, while I liked Cavill in this role — warming up for the ‘Superman’ reboot, one presumes — and tolerated the always scroungy Rourke, I felt that Evans was truly awful, completely miscast as Zeus, the Father of the Gods. Compared to all the testosterone-filled giants on screen, he was scrawny and uninteresting, never commanding the scene even when he was the central focus. And Athena (Isabel Lucas)? She was nowhere near gorgeous enough to be in that role, particularly when compared to the stunning Freida Pinto.
There are also constant gaffes, both in the narrative storyline — a long sword fight between troops in an enclosed space should eventually have the problem of bodies being underfoot, shouldn’t it? Mortal wounds should be, well, mortal, shouldn’t they? — and the continuity — keep an eye on the veil, no-veil switcheroo that Phaedra manages. Maybe I’m just a stickler for detail, but I kept having to remind myself “it’s only a movie, cut them slack.”
Still, if you can handle the gore, and there really is a lot, notably including the completely pointless and rather gross last scene, ‘Immortals’ was a reasonably enjoyable film with a solid core story of man fighting for honor amongst a messy jumble of evil and immortals. Just know what you’re getting into.