Immortals Review

immortals-reviewIf director Tarsem Singh’s (The Cell, The Fall) new swords-and-sandals adventure Immortals were a car, it would be a high-end speedster, full of roaring power, lightning-fast speed, and beautiful to look at whether it’s in motion or standing still. And like taking a trip in a good sports car, you might not get a well-rounded experience from Immortals, but you will get a ride to remember.

In Immortals, British actor Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, The Tudors) plays Theseus, a peasant chosen by the gods to stand against the conquering hordes of King Hyperion, played by Mickey Rourke (Iron Man 2, The Wrestler). Assisting him on his quest is a snarky, escaped prisoner played by Stephen Dorff (Public Enemies, Backbeat), and a beautiful oracle played by Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes). There’s a hefty helping of Greek gods, too – but we’ll get to them in a moment.

Best of both worlds

In many ways, Immortals is very much a mash-up of Singh’s trademark visual flair (which was showcased in his surreal horror film The Cell) and some of the most prominent recent examples of the swords-and-sandals genre, like 300 and Clash of the Titans. The storytelling side of Immortals falls more in line with Clash of the Titans due to its heavy reliance on super-powered gods and magical creatures instead of historical events, but its action scenes are more reminiscent of – and actually improve upon – the most impressive sequences of 300.

Basically, if you thought the breathtaking, slow-motion battle scenes in 300 were something to behold, Immortals takes that style of action sequence to the next level, and makes every tussle an epic brawl.

immortals-review-Henry-Cavill

But it’s not just the action that makes Immortals a visual treat. Possibly the greatest achievement in the film is Singh’s use of elaborately detailed set pieces and costumes. It’s in this area that there’s the greatest resemblance to The Cell, as every setting and every piece of clothing worn by his characters drip with purpose.

Something to behold

When The Cell hit theaters back in 2000, it was widely recognized for its brilliant visual elements, and even received an Oscar nomination for its makeup effects. Singh injects Immortals with a similar flair, offering up one environment after another that features more detail in the brief time it’s seen than most films’ entire lineup of set pieces.

The characters’ costumes receive a similar level of attention in Immortals, with the gods each sporting elaborate headgear that straddles the line between silly and regal. Poseidon’s helmet, for example, features a pair of massive seashells held in place by sculpted gold waves. It looks a bit ridiculous, to be honest, but amid all of the other elaborate trappings of Singh’s world, it makes a weird sort of sense.

immortals-review-Mickey-Rourke

On the human side, Rourke’s evil titan king sports a helmet shaped like the head and mandibles of a massive beetle – one of the most bizarre costumes of the bunch. It goes so far to the “weird” side, in fact, that it almost becomes another reason to see the film. (Try to imagine the grizzled actor delivering villainous lines while wearing a big bug helmet, and you get the idea.)

Trouble in Mount Olympus

Still, as I hinted at earlier, while Singh offers up some of the best examples of what he does well in Immortals, there’s still no shortage of deficiencies in the film. The story’s reliance on gods and magic isn’t the only similarity the plot shares with the recent Clash of the Titans remake. Immortals is similarly plagued with confusing narrative transitions and plot holes that will bother even the most casual audiences. Though the cast clearly gives their best efforts, there isn’t a lot for them to work with as far as dialogue and character development.

As Theseus, Cavill clearly wants to sell his character’s evolution from a meek peasant to a sword-swinging leader of men, but the story never quite establishes the former, while spending lots of slow-motion shots on the latter. Sadly, the speech his character makes late in the film in order to rally a city of soldiers to fight against Hyperion’s oncoming horde just might be one of the least inspiring pre-battle speeches ever filmed.

immortals-review-Freida-Pinto

The trouble lies with more than just Cavill’s role, though. Much of the film’s cast does their best with the material they’re given, but a talented set of actors can only do so much when the story doesn’t quite flow. Luckily, Rourke’s character in Immortals doesn’t stray far from what the veteran actor does best, and it plays to his burly, threatening, and occasionally mumbling menace. Dorff and Pinto make a perfectly acceptable sidekick and love interest respectively, and the cast of actors playing Greek gods look good in gold while making some of the film’s most spectacular action sequences seem impressively fluid.

Conclusion

In the end, it all comes back to that initial sports car analogy. For all its attention on speed and beauty, the Immortals isn’t going to win any points for fuel economy or handling in harsh weather. While Singh’s mythology-inspired adventure takes visual elements like action and scenery to a level few filmmakers have achieved, its shortcomings in story, dialogue, and character development are still there for everyone to see.

And while that means the film is likely to have more than a few detractors, those who go into the theater knowing what to expect will find a lot to like in Immortals – and find themselves in the passenger seat for one heck of a ride.

Movies & TV

Move over Superman, Aquaman is here to save DC's live-action cinema universe

DC Comics' aquatic superhero Aquaman finally gets his solo feature with Jason Momoa in the title role, and director James Wan's adventure manages to avoid feeling waterlogged while offering up some amazing visuals and intense action.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this winter with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Killing Eve'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Home Theater

The best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater sound as good as they look

If you've got your hands on some sweet Dolby Atmos gear, the next step is to find films that take advantage of it. These are our picks in every genre for the best Dolby Atmos movies currently available on Blu-ray and streaming services.
Gaming

Hey, Sony! If you make a PS2 Classic, it needs these games

158 million PS2 consoles were sold worldwide during its lifecycle, making it the most successful video game console of all time. It was hard, but we narrowed down the PS2's vast library of games. Here are the best PS2 games of all time.
Movies & TV

Best new shows and movies to stream: Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Roma, ‘Sabrina’ special

Need something to watch this weekend? Check out our list of the best new shows and movies to stream right now. On the list this week: Alfonso Cuaron's new film Roma, Jim Henson's classic fantasy The Dark Crystal, and more.
Business

‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’ breaks records, ‘Mortal Engines’ sputters

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse webbed up a winning weekend as the top movie in theaters, earning $35.4 million and setting a new record for animated features premiering in December.
Deals

Amazon Fire Deals: Tablets, TVs, and TV controllers in stock and ready to ship

Last-minute shoppers, and anyone seeking good deals on Amazon Fire products, are in luck. There's still time to order Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Fire media players, Fire CVRs, and Alexa-voice-compatible Fire remotes for Christmas delivery.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (January 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in December 2018 and January 2019, from new original series to classic…
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Twilight Zone’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (December 2018)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Home Theater

What’s new on Hulu and what’s leaving in January 2019

Our complete list of what's new on Hulu for January 2019, our personal favorites, and which titles will be removed will help you catch up on all the site has to offer -- and ensure you don't miss any titles heading into the streaming ether.