Despite gorgeous aesthetics in cinematography and visual effects, Immortals feels like it is trying too hard to fit into a list of Greek mythology films.

The thing about movies based on Greek mythology is that every now and again, we are treated to a glorious vision of what it must have been like to be a fearless warrior or a lion-hearted King or a powerful God. We have seen this in the likes of Spartacus, 300 and Clash of the Titans. However, we have also seen before that the true essence in Greek mythology is the tragic occurrences that come with the legend, part and parcel. This is what makes heroic tales of ancient Greece a historical bookmark. With Immortals, the story is about a time before the onset of civilization in ancient Greece; a time when Gods mingled with mortals and the ensuing consequences thereof.

Eons before a thousand vessels were launched in the name of the most beautiful face in all of Greece, Zeus and the rest of the Olympians won a crucial war over the Titans, resulting in the imprisonment of the latter. Immortals picks up some years after this war where ruthless King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), the lone king of the Titans, is on a rampage through Greece in search of the Epirus Bow – a Godly weapon of immense power that will enslave or destroy humanity. Standing in his way is Theseus (Henry Cavill) a peasant who will rise above valour to avenge the brutal slaying of his mother. Chosen by Zeus, along with the virgin oracle Phaedra (Freida Pinto) and a thief turned side-kick, Stavros (Stephen Dorff), Theseus begins his quest to find the bow before Hyperion, thus embarking on a mission to save mortals as well as the Gods from evil domination.

I am no historian and neither am I Greek, but I am somehow not convinced nor entertained after watching this movie. Sure, the general look and feel of this movie is very pleasing to an avid movie buff like me, but more on that in a bit. For a period saga, I find that there isn’t much depth given to the story. It is the screenwriter’s prerogative to twist and spin a yarn as seen fit, but if it does not engage the viewer, the film crumbles under its own weight. If you take away the visuals and the art direction, this film becomes another revenge flick along the lines of the ill-received re-make of Conan the Barbarian. With his directorial début in the mind-bending fantasy thriller, The Cell, Tarsem Singh has cut a niche for himself in cinematography and visual effects. The same holds true for this film with some deft camera work, albeit CGI assisted, following arrows and spears in first-person perspective. Cinematography is sweeping and epic yet restricted to a few eye-popping scenes. Battle scenes are gorgeously rendered along with a peculiar toning down of colours. Then again, this becomes all too reminiscent of Zack Snyder’s 300. Even so, visuals are worth the watch but may be the only saving grace here.

Although this film has a good line-up of top stars, the dialogue could have been better. Rourke may have almost won an Oscar for The Wrestler, but he shines here as the antagonist and proves why he is best suited playing villains. As the oracle, Pinto has lot more lines here and does well compared to some of her other ‘pretty-smile’ roles. As Theseus, Cavill has evidently given a solid performance but given the genre, critics will always compare his role here to Gerard Butler’s Leonidas or Russell Crowe’s Maximus. Big shoes to fill considering the millions of Superman fans he will have to impress come 2013’s Man of Steel. Worth mentioning are supporting roles from Stephen Dorff, John Hurt as Zeus incarnate and Luke Evans as Zeus (who I thought should have been played by an older actor).

For the average viewer, this movie has its fair share of thrills and spills (yes, lots of blood). Personally, it has fallen short of my expectations as another ‘has-been’. Either way, I doubt mainstream critics will be so kind.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

About Lloyd Bayer

Besides his passion for travelling, photography and scuba diving, Lloyd is a prolific film critic having contributed hundreds of film reviews to web and print journals, including IMDb and local daily Khaleej Times.