When watching director Tarsem’s Immortals, it’s impossible not to reminisce on 300. Aside from the centuries apart settings, the movies have similar goals, look the same and feature a lot of good looking, sweaty men with their shirts off. What 300 lacked in story, it made up for with constant, stylish action. It knew its plot was thin, but, in a strange way, that was one of its strengths. It never believed itself to be more than it really was. Immortals, on the other hand, thinks it’s all that and more. Its nonsense story is tiring and uninteresting, yet it explores it thoroughly. It talks and talks, but has nothing to say. If the two must be compared, Immortals is nothing more than a pretentious 300.
The story has something to do with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) as he searches for the Epirus Bow that will release a group of Titans from their shackles and allow them to wreak havoc on humanity. However, a young man by the name of Theseus (Henry Cavill) is out for revenge and determined to make Hyperion pay for killing his mother, a quest that may end up saving humanity.
I suppose I could go into more detail regarding the oracle played by Freida Pinto, who is able to see into the future supposedly because she is still a pure body, though her eventual (and hilarious) loss of virginity doesn’t seem to have any consequential effects. Or I could talk about the gang of slaves, one of which is no other than Stephen Dorff himself, who accompany Theseus on his mission for no reason that I could decipher other than because they had nothing better to do. But it seems frivolous for a story so meaningless.
Immortals is all style, no substance, which should come as a surprise to anyone familiar with Tarsem’s other work. Having directed only two movies prior to this, Tarsem has nonetheless proven himself as a masterful filmmaker, able to combine striking visuals with well told and undeniably unique stories. Both The Fall and the horribly underrated The Cell looked gorgeous, but those looks complimented the story and came naturally to its needs. Here, the looks are all you get and even then, it’s hard to shower them with praise. Although each shot seems to have been carefully planned and executed with poise, the graphic novel style, slow motion approach is becoming old. While The Fall and The Cell are still unique to this day, Immortals steals from a look that seems to have run its course.
Tack on Dorff’s egregious miscasting (his thick American accent is incredibly out of place in a movie set in 13th century Greece) and dull dialogue that makes an already boring movie even more so and all you’re left with are the action scenes. Fortunately, this is where it shines. Sure, it uses the same tactics made popular in previous films, but it nevertheless remains exciting. The climax in particular is adrenaline fueled fun. The problem is that you’ll have invested nothing in the characters or story and won’t care either way what happens. It serves its purpose as a visceral thrill, but that’s a compliment as shallow as the film itself. If Tarsem’s other films found their own voices, Immortals is a ventriloquist act.
Immortals receives 2/5