It was inevitable that the 300 comparisons would pour in. Tarsem Singh’s sword and sandal flick is similarly hyperviolent and even shares the famous speed-ramping of its predecessor. “Rip-off”, many shouted, but this chronological, ‘history of ideas’ approach is often flawed. It is worthwhile knowing that the director went to college, and maintains friendship, with the 2006 film’s director (Zack Snyder) and cinematographer (Larry Fong). Michael Bay was there too, interestingly enough.
Five years on, Immortals is removed in two key ways: it substitutes the open battlefield for a number of interiors, and it embraces Greek mythology – incorporating the gods, Titans and a supernatural weapon. The religious aspect attracted the director to the production. Himself an atheist, he imagines the relationship between higher beings and free will:
If a God showed up tomorrow, we’d go, ‘Oh my fucking God, he’s amazing…’ and our free will would be compromised. The example I always give is, I’d have a very hard time taking a Barely Legal magazine and masturbating in a bathroom if I knew that Jesus could walk in. Your true nature doesn’t come out.
Singh’s film, then, is inventive and full of ideas, both broad and moment-to-moment. Not every one works perfectly, but the majority come off and the film is packed with some incredible visuals. Mickey Rourke’s fascistic Hyperion is a fantastic villain and Henry Cavill, who plays the protagonist Theseus, will make a fine Superman under – guess who – Zack Snyder.
As the (short-sighted) criticism goes, the plot is simple and never really gains momentum, but Immortals is far from a generic blockbuster.