If you've been waiting for Henry Cavill to get his Bristols out, it's probably best you hang on for Man Of Steel.


1 star





Director: Tarsem Singh

Starring: Henry Cavill, Freida Pinto, Mickey Rourke


It's only after seeing a film like Immortals that you truly appreciate how good a job Zack Snyder did in making his highly successful 2007 adaptation of Frank Miller's 300.


A decidedly un-subtle piece of work, 300 was nonetheless a successful and hugely effective movie that managed to be not only visually striking, but also both tonally assured and narratively coherent.


Sadly, aside from sharing a similar lack of subtlety, Immortals, is none of the above.


The Immortals - girl looks on as a man lies in bed behind her

Ostensibly an adaptation of the Greek myth of Theseus, Immortals relies on its 'unique' selling points of digital 3-D (here's a hint: it adds nothing), a photogenic cast and director Tarsem Singh's Renaissance-style visuals to paper over the shortcomings of its screenplay.


Writing duo Vlas and Charley Parlapanides try manfully to blend the various tones and flavours at work in Immortals into a consistent whole, but their script never manages to sell this world of men and gods in anything approaching a believable or relatable way.


However, it would be unfair to place the shortcomings of the film solely on the shoulders of the writers as Immortals is, without doubt, one of the most ineptly directed movies I've seen in a long time.


That director Tarsem Singh has an eye for a striking visual is not in doubt, his career in music videos alone is testament to that. However, what his previous feature work has also proved, and which is re-enforced again with this film, is that Tarsem is clearly not a very good storyteller.


Scenes transition clumsily, the geography of certain scenes is hard to discern and too often the audience is left confused as to where, when and how certain events unfold.


Aside from the storytelling shortcomings, the strong suit of Tarsem's directorial style, his visual sense, is also strangely disjointed on this film.


As conceived by Tarsem and his design team, the world of Immortals is an odd mish-mash of images and designs that probably work well when looked at as stills in a production office, but are leaden and lifeless when seen in motion on screen. A case in point is how he chooses to visualize the gods of Olympus. Clearly basing their look on the paintings of Caravaggio, it's an interesting jumping off point for the designs, but to actually dress someone from head to toe in gold and have them pluck a harp on screen? Well, let's just say 'camp' doesn't really begin to cover it.


On the acting front it's very hard to assess the work of the cast as they've clearly neither been directed in their performances nor cast for any reason other than their name or their look.


Henry Cavill as the lead Theseus is suitably buff and earnest, but his part is so underwritten that it's hard to tell whether Cavill is simply a bad actor flatlining or a good actor trying way too hard. His upcoming turn as the new Superman in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel will no doubt settle that once and for all.


Mickey Rourke - the only saving grace in Immortals

Frieda Pinto, while as pleasant on the eye as ever, simply reprises the same performance she gave in both Slumdog Millionaire and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, while John Hurt's brief cameo is almost as perfunctory as his voice work for BBC 1's Saturday night show, Merlin.


Despite the uneven performances across the board, the most 'enjoyable' in the film comes from Mickey Rourke as the evil king Hyperion. A hilariously bizarre and over the top turn, he is never less than watchable as he mainlines the ghosts of both Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger.


However, gonzo value aside, in the final analysis Immortals is a disaster of a picture. A plodding, over designed mess, it manages to be neither engaging nor entertaining and instead drags out each one of its 105 interminable minutes.


One to avoid.


James Peaty



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