Judge David Johnson may not be immortal but the fungus on his gym socks probably is.
Our review of Immortals, published March 26th, 2012, is also available.
"Fight for your future!"
Greek mythology meets green screen in this super-stylized spin on Zeus and friends, with the future Man of Steel donning the greaves and Mickey Rourke running around with a giant lobster claw on his head.
Facts of the Case
Theseus (Henry Cavill, Stardust) is a Greek peasant, unpopular and scoffed at because of his bastard birthright, even though he looks like a supermodel and has pectorals the size of bocce balls. Little does anyone know (Theseus included) that the weird old man who's been hanging around and teaching him how to fight is actually Zeus (Luke Evans, The Three Musketeers), donning the appearance of a mortal. See, Zeus needs Theseus to sack up and take on the diabolical King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, The Wrestler), who is searching for a legendary weapon that will allow him to release the imprisoned, immortal Titans and take over the world.
All the evidence points to Immortals sucking: Theseus is a personality-free stiff, so generic his name should have been Actionhero; the fearsome Gods of Olympus look like castoffs from a Cirque du Soleil Vegas show; and Mickey Rourke chews through his lines like a piranha on a calzone. It's a 300 knock-off; a busy, garish, dopey barrage on the senses.
You could very well think all that and be pretty much on-the-money; Immortals is goofy as hell and hopelessly in love with its own flamboyance. But…I like it. It's simple, really. I will happily give an action movie a pass, if the on-screen violence is unique and exciting.
Despite the epic nature of the gods, the Titans, and the discussions of humanity's free will, Immortals is a straight-up action movie. In fact, the last twenty minutes delivers some of the most satisfying cinematic bloodletting I saw all year. For the finale, we get three concurrent sequences: a massive battle between armies, a brutal one-on-one street fight, and a startlingly cool and deliriously gory bout between Zeus' cronies and the Titans. Even better, director Tarsem Singh (The Fall) refuses to quick edit his fights, ensuring sustained, inventively choreographed mayhem that is hugely satisfying.
Is this craziness enough to compensate for wooden acting and an underachieving plot? If you're not into guys dressed up in gold plastic armor chopping monsters in half then soccer kicking their severed heads, probably not. Actually, definitely not. Not only do you have to be undeterred by this wanton ridiculous violence, you have to be physically excited by the prospect. And that's a tall order.
If you do meet this criteria, you've got a solid slice of high-definition bringing cinematic lunacy to drink in. The 1.85:1/1080p AVC-encoded widescreen can be flat-out jaw-dropping, particularly when Singh ladles on far-flung, sweeping establishing shots that transmit an epic feel the film never quite earns. On the downside, the darker scenes are really dark. I started watching this on my projector—normally a champ when it comes to delivering quality Blu-ray images—but had to switch to the LED TV as some scenes were indiscernible in and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem level of murkiness. Aurally, the film performs better, offering a pounding, electric 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix. Combined with the over-the-top fight scene sound effects, Immortals (Blu-ray) produces a visceral experience.
Extras: An alternate opening and two alternate endings (all wisely punted), deleted scenes, a making-of featurette (in HD) called "It's No Myth," a look at the fight training and choreography, and the "Immortals: Gods and Heroes" graphic novel.
I can't, in good conscience, label Immortals a good movie, but there are spots of big fun to be had, for connoisseurs of bloody stylized combat.
The head says Guilty, but the heart says Not.
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Scales of Justice
• Alternate Opening
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