Immortals – Review

Worth seeing: if you want a bloody and cheesy sword-and-sandals epic, that is bursting with spectacle but lacking coherence and characterisation
Director:Tarsem Singh
Featuring:Henry Cavill, Mickey Rouke, Freida Pinto, John Hurt, Kellan Lutz, Luke Evans, Stephen Dorff
Length:111 minutes
Released:11th November 2011


Theseus (Henry Cavill) is a peasant in a doomed, cliff-side village, that’s about to come under attack from forces loyal to Hyperion (Mickey Rourke).

The village noblemen are escorted to safety but the peasants are left behind, which doesn’t go down at all well with Theseus, who takes it upon himself to lead a revolt of his fellow peasants.

Hyperion is searching for a magic bow that will enable him to control the Titans, but one of the gods, Zeus (Luke Evans) notices Theseus’s bravery and sends him to the Oracle (Freida Pinto) to help him get the bow first, so that he can lead his people against Hyperion’s marauding warriors.


Nestling somewhere between Clash of the Titans and 300, this latest swords-and-sandals epic doesn’t feel tremendously original, either narratively or visually.

But with as much fighting as he manages to squeeze into the film’s nearly two hour running time, Tarsem Singh does manage to come up with some fresh ideas; I can’t remember seeing people being sliced in half vertically in slow-motion before.

Astonishingly, as bloody as this is – and it’s among the most brutal I have seen – the original cut was even more violent than this; the producers, clearly aiming the film at video-game-playing teenagers, cut 18 seconds of throat-cutting, eye-gouging and blood-splashing to get it down from an 18 certificate to a 15, but even that will exclude much of the target audience.

Rourke chews up the scenery – as he eats menacingly – and has tremendous fun with the cheesy script.

There’s been criticism of his performance, which would be understandable only if it was thought he was taking this seriously, but he seems to be deliberately overacting with gusto, in line with the whole film’s epic ambitions.

There’s a lot going on – vast battles, man-to-man combat, languorous pontificating – but none of it ties together; narratively, it’s nonsense. And the helmets, darkness and camera angles make it very difficult to tell most of the characters apart, which makes it even more difficult to follow.

The only way we can actually tell who the “immortals” are is because their costumes are cleaner and brighter than everyone else’s – it’s certainly not because they’re immortal, because without spoiling it, they’re not, which rather makes a mockery of the everything from the title onwards.

For anyone who likes the idea of the spectacle and experience of a 3D swords-and-sandals epic – and from the number of examples of the genre, there are sure to be many – it’ll tick a lot of boxes.

But if a coherent story, deep characters and warm relationships are more your thing, Immortals will feel more like a trip to hell than visit to Mount Olympus.