“Fight for honor. Fight for your children. Fight for your future. Fight for immortality!”
I know there are a lot of you out there who can’t wait for the huge 300 sequel: 300 The Battle Of Artemisia. You might even have your calendar circled for the Clash Of The Titans remake sequel Wrath Of The Titans, also on the horizon. In case you find that you just can’t wait, director Tarsem Singh has created a weigh-station, of sorts, with his action-packed Immortals. The film takes elements from both franchises and melds them together into something very much like those films, yet unique enough to warrant some of your attention. The result is a film that is absolutely uneven in places, but entertaining enough to be worth a look.
Theseus (Cavill) is a peasant in a small village about to be attacked by the ruthless King Hyperion (Rourke). He challenges his own soldiers who appear ready to abandon the lower class to their fate. While he gains their respect the gesture is in vain. Hyperion kills his mother and most of the remaining peasants. For standing up to the King, he is spared, but only so that he can suffer as a slave in the salt mines. In captivity he meets Phaedra (Pinto) a virgin oracle who has foreseen his fate in the epic battle to come. She assists in his escape so that he may find his destiny and stand up to the King and his armies, by first unearthing a mythical bow destined to fall into the wrong hands.
Of course, the gods find favor with Theseus and wish to help him along in that destiny. But Zeus has forbidden such interference on penalty of death. If Hyperion succeeds, he will unleash the last of the Titans, who have been imprisoned for millennia since their war with the gods themselves. With the bow, Hyperion can release them and control their power. The brink of disaster brings the gods to a crossroads. Will they help, or not?
If any of this sounds at all familiar, that’s because it is. Fans of the original Clash Of The Titans will recall much of the same elements of a hero whom the gods favor but who must discover his destiny with only the slightest help. The style of the battles will recall 300. Here you get that same comic book blood splatter and slow-motion slaughter. The film utilizes a ton of computer-generated effects, but they were never as intrusive as I feared. First reports from the filmmakers talked about the image resembling a Renaissance painting, and visions of that terrible Beowulf effect began to fill my brain. I’m happy to report that the effects are indeed stylish. Backgrounds are grand and intended to look a little off. That’s the painting effect, I suppose. But there isn’t any of that CG-over-live-action crap I was worried about. The style is never distracting, but rather leaves you with a feeling that you are indeed watching the unfolding of a myth. It works.
The 3D effects were a post conversion and truthfully you can tell. They aren’t as natural or as immersive as I had hoped. I strongly think this film would have been better served in standard format.
Finally, you have to talk about the strong cast. If you don’t already know who Henry Cavill is, you will. He’s filming the next Superman film, Man Of Steel. He’s, of course, playing Superman/Clark Kent. I wasn’t sure about the choice, and I’m still not totally convinced, however he does prove here that he might just have the charisma to pull it off. He’s compelling to watch and really has to drive the film, which he appears quite capable of doing. Mickey Rourke is once again a power to reckon with here. He actually starts out a bit stiff, but eventually he becomes King Hyperion and provides all of the villain that the film really needs. John Hurt has a small role as Theseus’s mentor, and he looks the part. Freida Pinto is alluring enough as the oracle. But she never quite gets the chance to spread her acting muscles here. It’s a pretty reserved role that might have done better with a touch more animation, and I don’t mean computer. The real surprise here is the young Luke Evans as Zeus. I won’t deny that I’m used to the old and wise version played by such greats as Sir Laurence Olivier. He doesn’t quite have the compelling voice and stature, but he does play a rather interesting version of the mythical king of the gods. You’ll really have to decide for yourself if it works. For me, I’d say it almost works.
There’s plenty of blood and guts to go around. There are epic battles and tragic drama. It’s a pretty good stop along the way toward those other future films. Who knows, we might soon be looking forward to this film’s sequel. The ending certainly sets one up. If enough money gets pulled in… “To those whom much is given, much is asked.”