A gold-barred cage embedded in the vast bowel of Mount Tartarus contains the Titans, a vanquished group of seething former gods defeated in a battle among the heavens. Standing toe to toe, these deadly creatures are destined to stay here for eternity, unless King Hyperion has anything to say about it.
Hyperion aims to wreak havoc on Olympus in defiance of the gods he thinks ignored his plea to save his family. The Titans, and the Epirus Bow he uses to release them, are his keys to vengeance, and he’ll mow down anyone in his path to achieve it. Standing within Mount Tarturus, he draws the bow back and an arrow appears, which he fires into the cell which then explodes, releasing the angered Titans.
So begins “Immortals,” the latest in the line of beautifully shot, action-first films, this one derived from the Greek myths of Theseus, the Minotaur and Titanomachy (War of the Titans). Don’t worry if these mythical allusions go right over your head — the film’s advertisers don’t expect you to know them.
They do, however, expect you to respond to heavy scenes of violence, have a healthy respect for nudity and appreciate breathtaking cinematography. These are the main draws of “Immortals,” and director Tarsem Singh capitalizes on them.
A stylistic cousin to “300,” “Immortals” is best appreciated for its astounding visual composition. A hefty combo of CGI and unique camera angles create this effect, often picking up the slack that the dialogue leaves behind.
Protagonist Theseus’ broad shoulders and chiseled stomach also support much of the film’s weight, as they help him protect his home village when Hyperion plunders through. Our hero wields a spear, fighting off dozens in slow motion as he clamors to save his mother from the cruel king’s wrath. I’ll let you see if he was successful, but the battle is most certainly worth the watch.
Theseus and his cohorts engage in several similarly epic fight scenes with Hyperion and his legions throughout the film in which the story comes to life on screen. The most notable scene occurs during the film’s climax, in which Hyperion and Theseus have their final battle. Simultaneously, the Titans and a group of gods, led by Zeus, duke it out in an excessively gory finale.
I found aspects of the plot to be compelling, especially the manifestation of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. This gripping sequence had me on the edge of my seat, and at one moment I even feared for Theseus’ life.
This film is largely linear in construction. However, its many themes get muddled in the midst of waving shields and clanking swords. Reflections on love and loss are mere diversions from the brutality of battle, which is clearly the centerpiece. Commendably, these abundant and gruesome scenes are the most compelling part of the movie.
After all the blood was shed, I was amazed and impressed by some of the battles I witnessed, decently entertained by the storyline and admittedly jealous of Theseus’ love interest, Phaedra, for canoodling with such a handsome warrior.
Before the closing credits, Singh offers one last nugget of quasi-profundity — a powerful summation that is both a lasting tribute to a fallen soldier and almost certainly a setup for a sequel. Stay tuned for “Immortals 2.”