Director Tarsem's high concept sword-and-sandal epic leaves it all on the screen. Filled to the brim with CGI, Immortals goes the Zack Snyder route, bolstering nearly every frame with stylized imagery that's not really there. Though a bit slow to start, Immortals should please viewers raised on things like the original Clash Of The Titans, viewers looking for a little class added to their special effects bonanzas.
Springing from Greek Mythology, Immortals concocts the tale of Hyperion, (Mickey Rourke) a bloodthirsty warrior king of immense worldly power. Hyperion seeks the Epirus Bow, a magical weapon which will help him conquer all of Greece and free the Titans, godlike beings imprisoned by the Olympians. The Olympians, if you don't know, are your garden-variety Greek Gods like Zeus and Poseidon. Though bound by Zeus (an impressive Luke Evans) to stay out of mortal affairs, the gods have a vested interest in gently guiding Theseus (Henry Cavill) in his personal quest for the Epirus Bow.
Either through whispering or yelling, Tarsem unleashes a whole bunch of talk about the intricacies of the Bow, Hyperion's dirty deeds, Oracles, godly interference and more. Depending on your point of view, this exposition either bogs the film down, or makes it more intellectually engaging than your average blockbuster - probably both, and sadly a likely reason the movie didn't do all that well in domestic box office receipts. Either way, you'll want to listen close if you don't want to feel tricked into confusion, though ultimately, it's easy enough to grasp that the two guys want the same weapon, and everyone is bound to start fighting at one point or another.
Shifting into high gear for the final 45 minutes, spears start flying, swords stabbing, chains whipping, and massive armies charging. It's thrilling and operatic, featuring judicious use of lightning edits, while layering elaborate 'bullet-time' fight sequences with splashy CGI gore. Tarsem's conceits successfully render these scenes seemingly less gross than they actually are (whole bodies are ripped in half, for instance) and easy to read. Color-coded characters battle against black and gray backgrounds; even if you can't quite tell how the bodies are twisting, you can certainly tell who's winning.
With pretty solid performances throughout, including John Hurt in a small role, and Rourke's brutally sleazy and disturbing Hyperion, Immortals represents a higher class of sword-and-sandal adventure. Sure, the story is cobbled together from various pieces, but it's presented seriously. Tons of gorgeous style and striking imagery are rendered in massive scale; it's a visual feast which concludes with bone-shattering action, so you'd be right in guessing it's Recommended.
This review is based on a DVD-R screener copy, and might not reflect final product.