The fatalities of Immortals

Immortals hit the theaters this weekend. The action/adventure film is an artistic adaptation of the story of Theseus, who, most famously, slew the Minotaur in the labyrinth.

The film attempts to take the story of Theseus, and make him a man, rather than a demi-god, and though his storied actions are all explained away, he still lives in a word with overseeing gods.

King Hyperion, played well by Mickey Rourke, seeks to end the reign of the gods by releasing their eternal foes, the Titans.

Theseus, played nearly as well by Henry Cavill, a mortal who has been under Zeus’s indirect guidance, is the only man strong enough to defeat him.

The overture of the film sets well the tone and style for the next 100 minutes. There is a certain classical feel to the visuals, especially during exposition.

The golds, whites, and blacks seem to comprise every color, with the exception of the red of the oracle and her priestesses, giving the whole film a classical renaissance painting look. 

The action scenes are gloriously attractive, with each slow-motion slice and puncture feeling tense and necessary.

Particularly impressive is the fight between the Gods and the Titans near the climax of the film. Each blow and block is played out to maximum drama, and as figures are rent and smashed, the violence that the gods impart feels truly epic.

It’s accomplished with the use of impressive CGI foes, who are free to blast apart and be smashed the way foes can never be in a simple choreographed fight scene.

While this isn’t entirely new, but it works particularly well here, simply because the director has chosen only to use such dramatic and violent effects when the gods are on the attack, leaving humans to continue with more standard film-fighting based on choreography and make-up.

There was simply not a bad performance in the film. Cavill and Rourke both shined in the lead rolls, and while she wasn’t much of a player, Frieda Pinto was compelling in the romantic lead. The gods were interesting as well, particularly Luke Evans, as the conflicted and pained Zeus and Isabel Lucas as the somehow naive Athena. This combined with the effects and the great costumes, especially for the gods, made me very happy with the film as a visual piece.

As a story however, it doesn’t hold up to much scrutiny. I know that most effects-heavy action films do not, but there are several clear cases in this film where major plot points are left under-explained or the deus ex machina is far too strong. Further that with an unsatisfactory conclusion, and we’ve got a wholly unfulfilling plot. Not that you were going to go see it for the plot anyhow.

You’re going to go see it because its fun and beautiful.

As a final note: I would recommend skipping the 3D version. It’s post-production 3D, rather than actually having been filmed with 3D cameras, so with this much action, it’s sure to give even the strongest heads a terrible ache.