Tarsem’s new 300-esque swords and sandals epic, Immortals, is stunningly beautiful. The cinematography is striking and effective, giving the slow-motion fighting scenes an awesome power. Of course, 300 gave us that back when I was still in high school, so I can’t say this one is original. It’s really not much of anything else, either.
Immortals is yet another mash-up of popular Greek myths and names, and this time our hero is Theseus (of “slaying the Minotaur” fame), and his mission, should he choose to accept it, is to become a champion for his impoverished people and defeat the evil King Hyperion with the legendary Epirus Bow, if only he can find it. You call it the plot, I call it an excuseto show off hackneyed fighting scenes where blood and gore spray in fountains over the green-screened scenery. It’s incredibly cool to look at, but we’ve all seen it before. Sorry Tarsem, but Zack Snyder beat you to the punch with 300, and let’s face it, that is a superior film on every level.
We are thrown into Immortals without a shred of knowledge about who the characters are, where they’re from, what they stand for, or why we should even care. And by the end of the film, we only know that they’re either a good guy or a bad guy, which doesn’t do much to change my apathytowards the story, plot, characters, or anything really. The dialogue was so dry and flat, a cardboard cracker would have been more appealing. Only one line ever elicited any emotion from me. As the troupe of good guys journey towards their destiny in the depths of Mount Tartaros, the woman prophet says, “It’s at least a two days journey to the mountains!” I nearly choked on my popcorn and garlic parmesan gourmet pretzel! Two days! That means the movie is likely only half over! I was so devastated because I was simply THAT bored. When the filmmakers sacrifice character development, they open the door for people to not care about what’s going on, no matter how much they spend on special effects. The door was opened wide for me on this one. Above all, the audience must know what is at stake for the characters, we must be presented with a way to tie into the hero, or even the villain, so that we can feel for them, root for them. I doubt the directors ever want the audience to snooze at their characters.
If I just want to watch the scenes where people get violently battered in spectacular slow-mo, well, there will always be Youtube.
Rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence, and a scene of sexuality.
Running Time: 110 Minutes.
Released in theatres: November 11th, 2011.