Having cut his teeth on music videos and delivered two stunning feature films (The Cell, The Fall), director Tarsem Singh has established himself as a dynamic visual stylist whose movies seemingly exist in a nether world that consists of beautifully rendered images of paradise and shocking sights of hell. His latest, Immortals, gives us a little bit of both and a whole lot of confusion as the artist tries his hand at bringing the Greek gods to life with decidedly mixed results as it features far more blood than coherence.
The plot is a model of simplicity as well as laziness. Mad King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, sporting a regal hobo look) has set out to wipe out all mankind and the gods themselves and he’s doing it one village at a time. As his scorched earth campaign continues across Greece, he has the grave misfortune of killing the mother of a young stonemason named Theseus (Henry Cavill). Theseus doesn’t take too kindly to this, and vows to avenge her. He’s not alone in wanting to take down Hyperion and he assembles a small group of warriors and a comely oracle (Frieda Pinto) to help him in his quest.
To say that the characters are one-dimensional is overstating things. The threadbare script does little to provide them with any logical motivation. Hyperion’s plan is the sort of wrongheaded scheme that’s tripped up many a Bond villain and it makes little sense. What’s the point of killing everyone? Who do you rule and what do you have once you’ve done so? And while Theseus’ anger and wish for blood is understandable, we learn very little else about him and he comes off as being little more than a very good-looking bag of bones. No, the purpose of this film is to wow us with Singh’s visual tools and there’s no question Immortals is another feather in his cap as far as the movie’s look is concerned. However, pretty pictures are only half the story where making a feature film is concerned.