Bloodless ‘Immortals’ offers plenty of gore

Jan Thijs/Relativity Media

“Immortals’’ brings on slavering Titans, a human Minotaur with a helmet made of barbed wire, and assorted Olympian gods and goddesses, but all fall back before the majestic side of ham that is Mickey Rourke. In this Mixmastered retelling of the Theseus legend, the actor plays the villainous King Hyperion, scourge of the Hellenes, and when he’s not disemboweling enemies or poking out the eyes of his own soldiers, Rourke takes his leisure with the battle-scarred ease of a man who has survived worse movies. “Immortals’’ is in 3-D, but with Rourke that’s a redundancy.

The film’s not as good as “300,’’ better than the recent “Clash of the Titans’’ remake, and on a par with those sword-and-sandals programmers Steve Reeves made in the late 1950s. The difference is that these days B-movie Bulfinch is awash with CGI: Digital sets that deliver the sense of epic horizons sorely lacking in the script. (When Hyperion says of one character, “His pain has just begun,’’ you know exactly how he feels.)

Henry Cavill is cast as Theseus, and he does a decent job of projecting intelligent muscle. The busy plot has the hero discovering his destiny while leading the fight against Hyperion’s hordes, finding the coveted Epirus bow - it shoots magic day-glo arrows and would probably come in handy at a rave - and courting Phaedra (Freida Pinto), the Oracle who has to be the loosest virgin in the Peloponnese.


The film’s real ace in the hole is its director, the India-born Tarsem Singh, aka Tarsem, who made 2000’s incomprehensible but visually stunning “The Cell’’ and 2006’s semi-comprehensible but equally ravishing “The Fall.’’ Those films were labors of love - not to mention completely bonkers - while “Immortals’’ is a work for hire. Still, there are enough moments of off-kilter production design and surreal costumery to mark it as the work of a unique talent, even if that talent has yet to make a completely satisfying movie.

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Thanks to Tarsem, the film’s carnage feels freshly seen - or perhaps spewed is the right word. The final act gets a needed power-up when everyone just starts killing everybody else: The Hellenes, Hyperion’s Heracleans, the newly freed Titans, and the gods of Mount Olympus led by Zeus (Luke Evans). Some of the slo-mo violence is frankly astonishing: exploding heads, spines split lengthwise, and so forth. If Maxfield Parrish had been a gorehound, this is what he might have come up with.

Otherwise, “Immortals’’ is simply the latest video game disguised as a film, and cut-rate post-production 3-D hardly helps. Just goofy enough to be more than a waste of time, it might qualify as light entertainment if it weren’t so ridiculously dark.