Art & Culture

I unwisely allowed myself to raise my hopes for this films, based on director Tarsem Singh's previous movie, The Fall, but I was misguided and foolish. This is a dreadful film, incoherent, violent, camp and dull all the same time.

The story of Theseus is one of the best known Greek myths, involving the Minotaur in the labyrinth, his relationship with Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons and later with Phaedra (which all went badly wrong). It's a great story – none of which appears in this film.

The Theseus according to Immortals is a hunky peasant with moulded pecs and aspirations to save the world from the evil Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who is trying to get his paws on the bow of Epirus, which, it turns out, is like a classical nuclear weapon. But the plot is so muddled and confusing that none of this really matters anyway. The core of the film is an unremitting stream of unpleasant violence, naked male torsos, and the occasional Maxfield Parrish-like interlude in Olympus, where the gods disport themselves in gold armour, looking like refugees from the Alternative Miss World contest.

It's not hard to find the problem with this film – it is, as always, the script. Where The Fallhad a strong central theme which made us feel emotionally connected to the characters,Immortals has nothing but a series of tacky set pieces which lead nowhere and fail to add up to a connected whole. There is no question that Tarsem Singh has an extraordinary visual eye, unsurprisingly since he directs commercials. But even though there are endless vistas of clifftop villages, mountain fortresses, soaring eagles and vast armies, they are no more than window dressing for an empty desert of pointlessness.

Henry Cavill, who we will see as Superman next year, does his best with a role which is barely one dimensional; Freida Pinto is a beautiful woman but she has the screen charisma of a guinea pig, as well as an inability to articulate clearly. As for Mickey Rourke, his main function is to be brutal to all and sundry while mumbling incoherently into a fake beard. I don't think any of these three needs to worry about being called on to appear on stage at the Oscars, though they may get a call from the Razzies.

The film has been advertised as being from the makers of 300, which is something I personally would have concealed, but it does give a clue to the kind of audience that the studio is hoping for. Ever since the success of Gladiator, Hollywood has had a yearning to make a classical film that will echo that film's success, without really understanding how to do it. Slow motion swordfights with half dressed men is the best they can come up with, and frankly it's simply not enough, unless you're very easily pleased.

I think I can promise you that the only kind of immortality this film will achieve is of being one of the worst films of 2011.


Phil Raby

Front Row Films

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