After the butchering of Perseus’s myth in Clash of the Titans, I was a bit wary about seeing yet another loose adaptation of the Greek myth of Theseus, one of the founder heroes of the realm of man. However, despite the deviations from the original story, I was surprised and pleased that Immortals worked — due mainly to excellent casting, a sensible screenplay and great direction from Tarsem Singh.
In this movie’s take on the mythos, King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), declares war on the gods by searching for the Epirus Bow, a powerful weapon lost in the realm of man after the great war between the Olympians and the Titans. The bow is the only weapon that is powerful enough to free the gods’ nemesis, the Titans, who have been imprisoned by Zeus after the great war in the mountain of Tartarus in a cage so secure that none have been able to escape for ages. In his quest for the bow, Hyperion lays siege to the monastery where the virgin oracle (Frieda Pinto) holds the key to the location of the weapon, and ravages nearby villages to take its inhabitants as slaves, raping and killing women and children, among them the bastard Theseus’s (Henry Cavill) mother, whom he loves more than anyone in the world. As both the oracle and Theseus are taken prisoner by Hyperion’s army, the oracle has a vision about Theseus’ role in the next great war and they manage to escape (with the aid of a band of slaves) in order to find the bow and prepare for the war. Unbeknownst to them, the gods of Olympus are watching their progress slowly as they are barred from meddling in the affairs of mankind, but are secretly and indirectly helping them in their journey to stop Hyperion from unleashing the Titans.
Since the movie came from the producers of 300, I was not surprised that film maintained the general feel of the 2007 hit — a noir-like quality that gave the movie a semi surreal feel but made the color contrasts pop, emphasizing the difference between the gods and the humans. Of course, there was no shortage of eye candy as Theseus and Stavros’s abs were prominently displayed throughout the film. Mickey Rourke, I believe, was a perfect villain as Hyperion, communicating his anguish in losing his wife and child to disease when the gods refused to heed his prayers, and his rage in blindly seeking revenge against Zeus and his family. His voice alone is enough to send chills down my spine.
Cavill, who is set to play Superman in the upcoming Man of Steel film, also stepped up his game for the role of Theseus and managed to separate himself from the pack despite almost identical clothing, and physique. Stephen Dorff as the thief Stavros was equally compelling as his right hand man, whose unlikely loyalty to Theseus persisted until the end. The Olympian gods, and even Olympus was not portrayed majestically, as with other films, which makes a lot of sense, considering that the gods are also at the brink of war. Only a few were prominently portrayed — Zeus (Luke Evans), Poseidon (Kellan Lutz), Athena (Isabelle Lucas) and Apollo (Corey Sevier) — which was kind of weird considering the veracity of the situation and the strength of their enemies.
The film has excellent action scenes and utilized a variety of fighting disciplines, some of which were prominent in the fight between Hyperion and Theseus. The choreography, coupled by cutting edge special effects and editing not only managed to make a statement but also added to the weight of the battle. This is a credit to the direction and a clear cut action plan for the movie, which incorporated some elements of 300 with the sheer number of soldiers outnumbering Theseus’s command. The simultaneous fighting between the gods and the Titans, Theseus and Hyperion, and the clash of Theseus and Hyperion’s men was also an excellent touch as all were given their own moments in the spotlight and emphasizing the value of each battle and the sacrifices each entail. I think Frieda Pinto was not a good choice as the oracle because she looked too young for the part. Most of her scenes fell flat but there was more than enough to cover for it, in my opinion. Aside from a slight darkness in the beginning, Immortals was a great movie, combining the original story of Theseus and the Minotaur with other mythos, but still taking care not to overwhelm audiences by using only a few key characters that they could identify with (Mythology is complicated enough as it is) and making the film revolve around these characters in a simple, sensible plot that the audience could understand and follow.
All in all, Immortals is not yet at the level of 300, but it comes pretty close, and it is by far miles ahead of Clash of the Titans (The Remake) in terms of story and direction. It has everything — action, drama, suspense, all presented in picturesque cinematography, framing and acting. This is one movie I wouldn’t mind seeing again.