Ignore, if you can, that most of Immortals makes little or possibly no sense. Ignore that its lead, future Superman Henry Cavill, is so wooden he makes Sam Worthington look like Jerry Lewis. And ignore that in their mad dash for 300 money, the filmmakers have made a movie about Theseus that doesn’t feature a labyrinth, six entrances to the underworld or a full-on Minotaur. (There’s a fearsome brute with a metal bull helmet. But that shouldn’t count.) None of this matters. We are of a period starving for great images, Werner Herzog has said, and great imagery is all that matters to director Tarsem Singh (The Fall, The Cell).
Granted, Singh’s striking imagery is in service of an inane script. Cavill’s Theseus finds himself trying to foil the world domination plot of sadistic supervillain Hyperion (Mickey Rourke!), which involves releasing the captured titans from a golden box for reasons never quite broached. He’s aided in his quest by hottie oracle Phaedra (Frieda Pinto, plus, briefly, her body double) and a thief (Stephen Dorff) whose job is to supply enough personality for all three of them.
For the fist-pumping frat boy, much of Immortals is a very slow build-up to an orgy of ass-kickery and gore. They’ll get their goods, including a bit where a hammer-wielding god goes Gallagher on a legion of baddies’ heads. But most of the film is reserved for art nerds, who can drool over the searing gold-on-black palette, the characters’ strange but visually arresting habit of living inside mighty cliffs and a serious penchant for funky headgear. (Rourke—who, as in Iron Man 2, rocks a mumbly disinterest that manifests itself in ultraviolence—gets the best of them, including one that looks like he has fangs around his face.)
Immortals sneaks some of the most batshit imagery into mall theaters since David Lynch’s Dune. But whereas Lynch’s disastrous, though often wonderfully surreal, flick found itself increasingly tied up in narrative knots, Singh’s approach is to ignore the stupid plot and busy himself with eye candy. There’s always something sparkly to gawk at, and by the climax, jocks and nerds can unite in awe for some truly beautiful violence.