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"IMMORTALS"
(2011) (Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke) (R)

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QUICK TAKE:
Action: Looking to avenge his mother's murder, an ancient Greek stonemason becomes the leader of a small group that sets out to take on a ruthless king and his army who are desirous of unleashing the titans to end the reign of the gods and destroy all of mankind.
PLOT:
Long ago and before the appearance of humans, powerful beings known as the Immortals ruled the Earth. But as they ended up battling each other, they learned they weren't immortal, with the victors becoming the gods -- such as Poseidon (KELLAN LUTZ), Athena (ISABEL LUCAS) and her father, Zeus (LUKE EVANS) -- while the defeated became the titans, locked for perpetuity in Mount Tartarus. The only thing that can unlock them is the magical Epirus bow, but its location is unknown.

But that hasn't prevented ruthless King Hyperion (MICKEY ROURKE) and his massive army from laying waste to the lands and villages they encounter while searching for that bow in 1228 B.C. Blaming the gods for not answering his prayers to save his sick wife and children, Hyperion now wants revenge on them by unleashing the titans, a troubling development seen in a vision by the virgin oracle Phaedra (FREIDA PINTO).

In that, she also saw stonemason Theseus (HENRY CAVILL) who lives in a cliffside village with his mother Aethra (ANNE DAY JONES) but is rebuked by the likes of soldier Lysander (JOSEPH MORGAN) from joining their ranks and defending themselves from Hyperion's approach. Unbeknownst to Theseus, he's become the chosen one to save mankind by none other than Zeus who appears to him in the form of an Old Man (JOHN HURT).

Hyperion isn't aware of that, but he knows of Phaedra and believes she can lead him to the bow, so he tortures other oracles and even a monk (GREG BRYK) in hopes of locating her. Little does he know that she's traveling with Theseus and his warrior friend Stavros (STEPHEN DORFF) who are on a quest to find and stop the king. And that's especially true for Theseus who longs to avenge his mother's murder by the hands of Hyperion. With the king getting closer to finding the bow, they must contend with the possibility of him unleashing the titans and thus creating an epic battle on Earth the likes of which haven't been seen in eons.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
Our reviewing policy for films that aren't shown in advance to critics (or are done so late the night before they open) is that we'll only provide a few paragraphs about their artistic merits.

Since there are diehard fans of just about every interest and niche out there, I often wonder how they react when filmmakers get things wrong and/or take artistic license with the known facts. Take, for instance, Greek and Roman mythology. When the newest "swords and sandals" flick dealing with such matters arrives on the big screen, do such fans get up in arms about those errors and liberties, or do they simply dismiss what's presented as yet another example of Hollywood bungling and/or manipulating things?

I'm no purist in such matters, but the latest such pic, "Immortals," takes plenty of liberties with the tale of Theseus, the Minotaur and the epic battle between the gods and titans of Grecian lore. Granted, most of these sorts of films aren't meant to be taken seriously nowadays (unless you've invested your own money in them), and few play up the all-too-apparent camp possibilities (even if their main villain -- played by Mickey Rourke here, no less -- wears a helmet shaped like a Venus flytrap with what appear to be upright bunny ears -- I kid you not).

Helmer Tarsem Singh ("The Fall," "The Cell") -- who works from a script by Charles Parlapanides and Vlas Parlapanides -- is less interested in mythological accuracy and more focused on giving himself ample opportunity to show off his visual directorial flourishes when not stealing the super slow motion battle effects from the likes of "300."

The result isn't as bad as I feared (I'm no fan of these sorts of pics, at least in their current incarnation). But with the attention obviously focused more on showing buff, shirtless men being sliced and diced than in creating engaging characters (the future Man of Steel, Henry Cavill, is particularly inert) or compelling drama, this is fairly forgettable, if ultra-violent material. It rates as a 4 out of 10.




Reviewed November 10, 2011 / Posted November 11, 2011


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