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Immortals

Directed by Tarsem Singh

Starring Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, and John Hurt

Rated R

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Tarsem Singh’s (The Cell) third film Immortals (previously named War of the Gods) is an incondite action movie loosely based on Greek mythology. It falls far below the expectations raised by the trailer but does at least provide some aesthetically pleasing action sequences which demonstrate Singh’s skills as a music video (REM, “Losing My Religion”) and commercial (Pepsi) director.

The plot of Immortals is a simple one. Hyperion, the king of Crete (Mickey Rourke), has declared war upon the gods because they did not help to save his family from illness. He is on a raid across the country to find the Epirus bow, the only weapon that will allow him to unleash the Titans from their eternal prison upon the gods to take revenge for his family. Hyperion attacks several holy places, among them the hometown of Theseus (Henry Cavill), to find an oracle priestess (Freida Pinto) who has the power to guide him to the bow. When attacking Theseus’ village, Hyperion kills Theseus’ mother.

Theseus is not helpless, however. He has been taught and raised by an old man, who is actually Zeus (John Hurt). This makes the mysterious and vicious Heraklion, King Hyperion, and the young soldier Theseus equal opponents. In the action that follows, Theseus tries to protect the oracle and the bow from Hyperion, but he fails, thus allowing the Titans to become unleashed and initiate the “War of the Gods.”

Just as Zack Snyder’s Sucker Punch did, Singh’s movie provides an excellent trailer with plenty of great action sequences and suggests a good story. But very much like Sucker Punch, the actual movie falls far below its raised expectations and vastly disappoints. The linear storyline makes the movie that much more boring. Greek mythology, though rich in excellent stories, contributes little to the film besides acting as a template for the costume and set designers. Besides this, Immortals also provides a completely ridiculous sex scene between the oracle and Theseus, which does not seem to fit into the storyline at all. This scene in the middle of the movie triggered many incredulous laughs of disappointment from the audience.

Similar also Louis Leterrier’s Greek mythology-based Clash of the Titans, Immortals provides a few nice action sequences, which have been used to craft the trailer and sell the movie. But overall, both films are big disappointments. The implications of this apparent pattern are frightening to some extent, and if it continues will damage the action movie genre. What we need more of are movies with great action sequences and captivating storylines: the last two James Bond films, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace, and Zack Snyder’s previous films 300 and Watchmen, for example. Action sequences can be understood as aesthetically pleasing, well-choreographed sequences similar to a ballet or musical, as Marc Forster (Quantum of Solace) once put it, but they are not sufficient to make a good movie.