‘Immortals’ is mortal, often cliched (IANS Movie Review)

November 13th, 2011 - 12:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Film: “Immortals”; Cast: Henry Cavill, Mickey Rourke, Frieda Pinto, John Hurt; Director: Tarsem Singh Dhandwar; Rating: ***

A man of Indian origin, Tarsem Singh Dhandwar, is one of the greatest visual artists in the world of cinema. One could make any complaints about his first two films, “The Cell” and “The Fall”, but bad visual language is not one of them.

With just two films in a decade, he has also proved to be one of the most uncompromising cinematic artists. However, as “Immortals” show, Hollywood has finally managed to catch up with Dhandwar.

The result is a film that is not even half of what it could have been if the man was perhaps truly allowed his full independence.

After a power hungry king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) wrecks havoc on earth, and the immortals i.e. the gods, refuse to interfere, it is left up to the human race, led by a reluctant peasant Theseus (Henry Cavill) with the help of an Oracle (Frieda Pinto) to protect the mortals against evil.

The soul of “Immortals” is in the right place. Yet, what mars the film are the cliches and the lack of logic that has killed the potential in a lot of good commercial cinema.

This is not expected of Tarsem who over the decade has carved his own cinematic niche in the world with just two films.

Yes, his signature visuals and stunning camera work are indeed there, but they are so sparse that a fan of his previous works searches for it like a thirsty man looks for water in the desert. And though one does find them, it isn’t enough to quench one’s thirst.

As commercial cinema goes, it has enough going its way. An underdog ‘peasant’ hero, a ruthless unsurpassable villain and a war that cannot be won.

And it is peppered with sufficient doses of wisdom like: “Being a warrior does not mean striking an opponent. It means to find a good reason to draw one’s sword.” or “It is not living that is important, but living right.” Sadly it is not enough for a film which could have had a bigger destiny.

And that is perhaps for good measure, for “Immortals” is far from living up to its name.

It is simple, cliched and often times boring. And though the super slow motion that Dhandwar used to stunning effect in “The Fall” is indeed there, it does not have the right emotions to carry it forward.

Couple that with the interference of Hollywood, and you have a film that is much less than what it could indeed have been. And that, indeed, is a shame for Dhandwar’s fans and for cinema in general.

However, that it has released in India, bodes well for Indians who will finally come to know of this visual master.

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