Blu-ray Review: Immortals

STUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar | CAST: Henry Cavill, Luke Evans, Mickey Rourke, John Hurt, Stephen Dorff, Kellan Lutz, Freida Pinto
BLU-RAY & DVD RELEASE DATE: 3/6/2012 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray $39.99, Blu-ray 3D Combo $49.99
BONUSES: deleted scenes, featurette; BD adds alternate opening and endings, featurette, graphic novel
SPECS: R | 110 min. | Action fantasy | 1.85:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1/DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

As visually stylish as ever, filmmaker Tarsem Singh Dhandwar’s (2000’s The Cell and the underrated 2006 fantasy The Fall) casts his colorful eye on the mythological fantasy film Immortals and imbues it with a grand and sumptuous sheen. But looks aren’t everything in this ultimately unsuccessful slice of Greek mythology.

Immortals

The stage is set for a mythological battle of mythological proportions in Immortals.

Power-mad King Hyperion (Passion Play‘s scenery-chewing Mickey Rourke) of ancient Greece slays any and all who get in the way of his quest for the legendary Epirius Bow, an all-powerful weapon forged by the Olympian gods. The bow has the power to unleash another group of gods, the Titans, who were imprisoned by the Olympian gods a zillion years earlier. The Olympians are technically forbidden to intervene in the world of the mortals, but this doesn’t stop Zeus (Luke Evans, The Three Musketeers) from choosing the man Theseus (Henry Cavill, TV’s The Tudors) to lead a fight against Hyperion and to prevent the end of the world (as we know it).

Sounds like quite a story, right? And it even smacks of 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts which, nearly 50 years after it was made, is still Hollywood’s finest Greek mythology adventure. Okay, then why is Immortals all so dull?

The premise is intriguing, but Theseus’s epic journey doesn’t really “transport” viewers anywhere they haven’t been before in such earlier and livelier mythological adventures as 300 or Clash of the Titans.

And the addition of supporting players Freida Pinto (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) as the oracle Phaedra and Stephen Dorff (Somewhere) as a vagabond thief doesn’t add much life to the proceedings, particularly with all their talk, talk, talk. Even the gods Athena (Isable Lucas, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen), Poseidon (Kellan Lutz, Arena) and other deities who observe the proceedings from their mount — when they’re not messing with the mortals’ lives — seem to be bored.

Immortals turns up the juice during its battle scenes, which are carefully choreographed, brutal affairs, but those sequences are infrequent and, again, nothing that we haven’t seen similarly mounted in a handful of previous films.

The visual and audio power of Immortals’ Blu-ray rendering are actually more exciting then the movie itself. Tarsem and his crew’s create a rich palette, with the colors coming off with a somber fullness, a thickness, that reminds one of Renaissance paintings of the Greek myths. (Think Raphael’s “The Parnassus” in the Vatican.) It’s refreshing to see a fantasy film restrain from an overly dazzling spectrum of bright colors.

As for the sound, it’s there in all its full-bodied glory, particularly in the battle sequences and, in particular, during a tidal wave assault, summoned up by the gods, that lays waste to the bad guys while crashing down on the audience’s ears.

The Blu-ray’s adequate selection of bonus materials includes eight deleted scenes, a pair of alternate endings (one notable, the other forgettable), an alternate opening revealing Theseus as a boy, and a four-part featurette, Caravaggio Meets Fight Club: Tarsem’s Vision, which delves into the film’s stuntwork, music, visual effects and overall look as dictated by the director.

The disc’s other bonus featurette, It’s No Myth, finds various historians talking about mythology and its growth over the ages and how the ancient myths are always recycled, reimagined, retold, reinterpreted and, yes, re-booted. We know.

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.