By Eleanor Ringel Cater
The mortality rate in “Immortals” is a mile-high, and I wondered for a while if, perhaps, I might’ve enjoyed the carnage more if I had opted for the 3-D version.
Or even the 3-D IMAX version.
But I’m pretty certain that there’s nothing that could improve this disastrous mish-mash of vaguely mythological references, rendered with blood-spurting splendor by director Tarsem Singh. A specialist in Omigod over-the-top visuals (remember “The Cell,” starring Jennifer Lopez in her first incarnation?), Singh may have been aiming for the next “300.”
Which, in most circumstances, would be a GOOD thing, but in this case….
Our hero is Theseus. Given this film’s respect for the tales of ancient Greece, he could’ve just as easily been called Perseus or Patroclus or Mythos or Lassie or Just Plain Joe.
As it happens there is a Theseus to be found in many of the major myths. For one, he’s considered the founder of Athens. For another, he defeated the dread half-man—half-bull monster called “The Minotaur.”
Well, let’s just say Singh’s version is more into the bull-**** part.
Played with manly pin-up allure by English actor, Henry Cavill (best-known these days as the soon-to-be new Superman). Theseus’s task is to defeat the eeeeee-vil and clearly bonkers King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke, shamelessly hamming it up even when his face is covered by a mask).
Hyperion does despicable things — like slow-cooking three chicks, I mean, priestesses, in a very fancy crock-pot. Meanwhile, the gods — mostly louche, underdressed young men who look as if they last worked at a fancy bar on South Beach — decide whether or not to interfere.
I can’t honestly tell you what they decided. I made it through well over an hour, but when Theseus’s guys (not even sure if they are Greek) hunkered down behind what appears to be the Hoover Dam for their Final Conflict with Hyperion and HIS guys, well, I walked. I admit — I was the 1 per cent, not the other 99,who stared at the screen as if transfixed by the sheer sensation of sledge-hammered testicles and slit throats in close-up.
Lest you dismiss me as an elitist (or a GIRL…), let me flash my schlock-movie credentials. I have seen at least seven “Mighty Sons of Hercules” pictures (some with Steve Reeves, some without). I can even hum the theme song.
However, “Immortals’” gilded self-importance would make even Pietro Francisci (director of the truly immortal “Hercules Unchained”) wince. The only thing greasier than the abs here is the screenplay.
ADDENDUM: I’m a classicist of sorts, I guess. I just think there are enough strange things and pure carnage in a Greek Myth told straight — like a shot of Jack Daniels. The embellishments in “Immortals’” may please some. But trust me, Singh and company could’ve stuck to the myth as it has existed for centuries and still bewitched us with their bloated visual spell.