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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    ‘Immortals’ impresses in picture but not plot

    As visually striking as it may be, it’s clear from the outset that “Immortals” is more concerned with looking pretty than it is with being entertaining, a disappointing fact given the immensity of the talent involved.

    In his third feature to date, director Tarsem Singh (who, despite this latest effort, is still very much a visionary) has pieced together a film that proves to be more a series of slow-moving paintings than a narrative worth spending much time on.

    At an hour and 50 minutes, “Immortals” carries too little regard for basic storytelling to justify itself, leaving us with a film that, for all its stylized brutality, is curiously boring to watch.

    For fans of Singh’s work, it should come as no surprise that “Immortals” is a visual treat. The movie, about a young man’s quest to thwart a Cretan king’s declaration of war against the Olympians, is so beautifully rendered that it’s worth taking a minute to marvel at the sheer effort that must have gone into producing it. But as is par for the course with films like this, the wonderment wears off quickly. Without an engaging story to latch onto, “Immortals” becomes a chore to watch long before the first sword is swung.

    We open on Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), the aforementioned king of Crete, as he frees the Titans from their earthly prison using the Epirus Bow, a weapon created by the gods and hidden from the humans on Earth. These Titans, as mythology would have it, were imprisoned after a great war (dubbed “The Titanomachy”), and — to put it simply — are the only beings in the universe capable of overthrowing the gods. Going back in time, we then follow Hyperion’s crusade to find this weapon, while joining the young slave Theseus (Henry Cavill) on his revenge-fueled quest to defeat him. Of course, the gods watch quietly over all of this, stepping in on occasion to help Theseus and his gang of misfits survive.

    What truly hinders “Immortals” is its lack of consequence. For having vowed to never meddle in human affairs, the gods interfere frustratingly often, jumping down to save Theseus whenever they see fit and thus stripping the story of any gravity it may have otherwise possessed. This is the very worst sort of plot device; if the gods can step in and save our hero whenever they please — or furthermore, if they can simply kill Hyperion and prevent this whole story from even happening — then what is there to make us feel like Theseus is in any real danger?

    It is not enough for the gods to say they’ll turn a blind eye to the humans. If we as an audience are to care about Theseus’ struggle, they have to actually do it.

    It is this absence of urgency that makes the film so uninteresting to watch. The battles, while visually appealing in their own right, arrive only after the story has managed to suffocate itself, making them feel tedious despite the obvious artistry behind them. One cannot help but be reminded of “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,” a film that suffered from a similar brand of monotony despite its bottomless reserve of first-rate effects.

    All in all, “Immortals” is not a terrible film, just a tedious one, and as a fan of Singh’s, it’s difficult not to think it could have been much better than it is. While there’s certainly enough creativity on display to justify having faith in his future work, it’s still discouraging that a film so full of color can be so colorless.

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