So, this was basically my most anticipated movie for the second half of the year (Deathly Hallows being for the first). I'm a huge fan of mythologies of any kind, but Greek, of course, was my first love (as it is for most people). When I first saw the trailers for this film, I became pretty dang excited. But were my expectations too high? The movie tells us the story of Theseus (Henry Cavill), a peasant who gets caught up in the war to stop King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who wants to free the Titans. Along the way, he teams up with a virgin oracle named Phaedra (Freida Pinto) among others, and gets help from the likes of Zeus (Luke Evans) and an Old Man (John Hurt). Stephen Dorff also co-stars as a rouge thief that teams up with Theseus.
Well, let's start with the obvious: this movie is freakin' gorgeous. If I were to make a Top 10 Most Gorgeous Movies Ever (and I just might), this would definitely make the list. Director Tarsem Singh aimed to make the film look like a painting, and he damn well succeeded. And sure, the costumes (particularly helmets and masks) could get a bit silly, but I still thought it fit the overall setting. But not only is it visually pleasing through the cinematography, but the action sequences are--at times--jaw dropping. In particular, any time the gods fight... well, let's just say it's what you'd expect to see in a God of War film adaptation. Fantastically stunning and brutal. The only visual issue was a CGI hyena (or something) that looks very fake, but it's probably in the movie for less than a minute total.
One thing it took me a while to figure out about this film is how it was approaching the mythology. I know chunks of Theseus' story (the labyrinth and minotaur, for instance), but that's about it. Typically, there are two ways to adapt a legendary story. The first is to keep in all the magic and mystical elements. The second is to make it more realistic, or the "how it really happened/what really inspired the legend" type stories (i.e. King Arthur or the most recent Robin Hood). The reason it took me so long to figure this movie out is that it mixes the two types together. Let me explain...
It makes things more realistic in that, for instance, Hyperion is a man instead of a Titan. The Minotaur is a brutal warrior in a rather freaky outfit (it works, though). The Titans themselves are more monstrous men instead of giant creatures. Tartarus is a mountain, not a pit in the Underworld. Things like that. However, at the same time it's doing this, it does keep in the gods. It does keep in mystical objects (like the Bow). It keeps that magic and mysticism to keep it routed in mythology. Once I figured this out, I enjoyed the film much more. I realized that this made it seem more realistic in terms of how the Greeks might have viewed things. The battles and wars and deaths and locations were all real, tangible things. But every now and then, when necessary, the gods would interfere. In other words, just because you say "this is how the legend really happened" doesn't mean the gods never existed or played a part.
The acting was pretty good around the board. None of it was super fantastic, but you don't really go into a movie like this and expect it to be, either. There were some interesting choices for the roles all around (John Hurt being the best). But I think these are probably the youngest I've seen the gods portrayed, particularly Zeus. Still, they did fine, as did the other actors. Though I'll be honest--Freida Pinto could be terrible and I wouldn't care. I think she's one of the most gorgeous actresses working today. (And she has a nude scene in this! I can't be 100% it wasn't a body double, though... but still!).
Most things I've read about it harp on the script and the dialogue. Besides the thousand mentions of either "the gods" or how one will be "immortalized in history" and the like, I don't recall anything that could give people much to complain about. In fact, I think the way the title was interpreted in the film was a good one. Instead of being about the obvious--the gods--it took it in a different direction. The title is more in reference to being remembered through time or being important in the grand scheme of things. There's also stuff about souls being immortal, as well.
In fact, if I find fault in anything in this movie, it's that there wasn't enough action. The action that is in the film is perfect. But I felt that when there wasn't any action going on, the film either tended to drag or not feel like it was moving forward. This mostly occurred in the first half of the film--and perhaps I felt this way because it was about the halfway point when I had my aforementioned realization. It just seemed like a lot was happening but it wasn't much at the same time. But then again, I'm sure if there was more action, people would be complaining that there wasn't enough substance. And I do have to say that the film does attempt to give you both substance and characters to care for. There was just an issue I can't quite put my finger on, and the best I can come up with is that it needed more action sequences.
The film has been compared non-stop to 300 (partially due to the fact it's the same producers). It's almost nothing like 300 outside of being a stylized Greek myth story. I do feel that Immortals won't find a proper audience until it hits DVD and Blu-Ray, which is a shame, as it's stunning enough that a big screen viewing of it is almost required to gather in all the aesthetics of it. Finally, I'll briefly mention the 3D--it doesn't add much, but it's not a detriment whatsoever. It still looks beautiful and the action brutally awesome. Perhaps I went in with expectations too high, but I still really enjoyed it, mostly thanks to the visuals and the action.