The first thing to note about Immortals is that it’s not 300, at least not entirely. Directed by the remarkable Tarsem Singh and produced by 300 frontmen Mark Canton and Gianni Nunnari, Immortals brings an eclectic blend of stunning visual and creative elements together fairly successfully. Set in the realm of ancient Greek mythology, the film follows Theseus (Henry Cavill) on his quest to avenge the death of his mother, who was killed by power-hungry King Hyperion (grimly portrayed by veteran villain, Mickey Rourke). Theseus follows the guidance of the “Virgin Oracle” (Freida Pinto) in an adventure that will engulf all of humanity in the mad King’s ravaging lust for power. It’s a simple and formulaic story.
Immortals is not without sparkle, but it’s guilty of many of the same sins as 300. They both rely on a two-dimensional plot with a flagrant disregard for character development. Despite the lack of narrative depth, Immortals does a good job showcasing the story’s central drama. The plot develops at a steady pace, giving the story time to resonate and provide ambient sensory pleasures to the audience. Soon enough, however, doses of drama give way to the much-anticipated action scenes. It’s in these scenes that Immortals defies comparisons to 300, and that’s not to say that 300 didn’t have great action scenes.
Immortals relies on some of the slow-motion goriness characteristic of 300, however it integrates this effect with other mainstays of action cinematography. It effectively outclasses most movies in its genre, beating its predecessor at its own game.
There is simplicity in the straightforward, heroic plot, but it is an elegant, minimalistic interpretation of Greek mythos. In fact, it’s because of this that the many subtleties of the movie become visible, even amidst the obvious visual symbolism, superb sensory experience, and genuinely suspenseful moments. This is going to be a polarizing point of contention and the debate could plausibly come down to whether the movie’s subtleties flew over its critics’ heads, or whether the hedonistic indulgence in action, gore, and special effects was just to mask an empty story. I urge you to go and make your own decision about this one. However, I strongly suspect Immortals will foster its own cult in the industry.