- Niki Boyle
- 14 November 2011
Brutal but shaky retelling of the Greek myths
Tarsem Singh is the latest in a long line of movie directors with roots in the music video genre. He has an eye for the arresting, eye-catching image – something fellow music vid-turned-feature directors David Fincher and Spike Jonze saw in him, leading them to endorse his visually stunning masterpiece The Fall in 2008. Immortals is Singh’s first movie since The Fall, and like its predecessor, it sets a high bar for visual fireworks – a standard that makes the film around it seem less sure of itself by comparison
It would be churlish to criticise the plot for unoriginality, set as it is the milieu of Greek gods and Titans where this narrative framework was invented in the first place. Thesus (future Man of Steel Henry Cavill) is a simple village lad, until the brutal murder of his mother sets him on a quest for vengeance against the invading tyrant Hyperion (Mickey Rourke). Observing (and occasionally assisting) Theseus in his mission are the gods, led by Zeus (Luke Evans) – they’re keen to see him succeed, as Hyperion’s crusade may ultimately end in their downfall at the hands of the imprisoned Titans.
With a combination of Hellenic source material and liberal use of slow-mo action sequences, the most immediate comparisons that come to mind are with 300 and Clash of the Titans. Like 300, battle scenes are super-stylised and brutal, lending an effective but sometimes cartoonish air to the proceedings. Like Clash of the Titans, the acting and script are letdowns, serving mainly as links between impressive set-pieces. Thankfully, unlike Clash of the Titans, these set-pieces are a triumph: appropriately, the gods own every frame they’re in, and Singh gets to show off his visual flair by inventing increasingly gory ways for their opponents to perish. The ancient Greeks might not recognise the hash that’s been made of their narrative tradition, but going by scenes in The Iliad, they’d appreciate the amount of splatter that’s superseded it.
With thanks to Vue Omni, Edinburgh.