Set in 1200-something-rather BC, it comes helmed with the same acuity of visuals Tarsem Singh brought to The Cell and The Fall, where every pixel appears to have art-directed to a near death. One may wonder why some characters look raring to go for a parade of nightmares, but one cannot deny how stunning it all looks.
This film’s Perseus stand-in, Theseus (Henry Cavill, TV’s The Tudors), goes from grimy slave to good-guy greatness in order to keep the grubby paws of King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, The Expendables) off a magic bow that shoots invisible electric arrows, and protect a for-the-time-being virgin oracle (Freida Pinto, Rise of the Planet of the Apes). Come tussle time, the mortal Theseus and his titan friends occasionally are aided by gods like Athena (Isabel Lucas, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Poseidon (Kellan Lutz, those Twilight thingies), who swoop down decked out in gold costumes like a Justice League of ancient Greece.
Eventually, like most studio action product needlessly released in 3-D, it tires of telling a story, but damned if Singh refuses to fill his frames with images that fail to dazzle. Immortals‘ claim to fight-scene fame is presenting fallen and filleted bad guys collapse in slow motion while the gods continue ripping through others in normal speed.
An equal “wow” factor figures into the imaginative costume designs, with Rourke’s battle helmet resembling a beetle’s pinchers up top and the open, hungry maw of a Venus flytrap in front. His mute henchman is the Minotaur (Robert Maillet, The Big Bang), not of animal origin, but a hulking guy in a bull-shaped helmet fashioned from barbed wire.
This clash contains no kraken, but it does have a crackin’. Of a guy’s testicles. With a mallet. I’m 90 percent sure that act wasn’t part of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology, but watching Immortals gave me a mild rush of nostalgia for reading her adventure stories as a child. That may be the most honest praise I can give, aside from noting that on the basis of this, Cavill should make a fine Superman in next year’s Man of Steel reboot.
On Fox’s Blu-ray release, “It’s No Myth” spends five minutes chatting with academics about Greek mythology, which would serve as a nice-enough primer for mythology virgins going into Immortals cold. Afterward, check out the four-part series — roughly 20 minutes total — for your standard glimpse behind the scenes; if nothing else, it reveals just how reliant the film is on green screens. A tie-in graphic novel is included in the extras, but since the words are too small to read on a big screen and your remote control’s zoom function is prohibited, why bother? Singh would be mortified. —Rod Lott