Immortals (R) ★★½

Review Date: November 11th, 2011

No one aspect of a filmmaking is more important than another. The look, the sound, the script, the performances—a great movie seamlessly gels its parts together and immerses you in the final product.

But director Tarsem Singh makes a strong case for the counterpoint. His films (The Cell, The Fall) are visually remarkable, expressing a creativity rarely found in the mainstream landscape. His latest, Immortals follows suit, bringing the stark contrast, bright colors and startling composition of a Caravaggio painting to life in the form of a mythological war epic. The movie's a feast for the eyes, but unlike a work from the treasured Renaissance painter, Immortals spreads across the big screen canvas without a single drop of soul.

The movie relies heavily on its lead pawn, Theseus (Henry Cavill), who finds himself imparted by the Gods of Hollywood to drag the chiseled marble cast members through random set pieces and meandering dialogue scenes intact, so the movie can payoff with a grand finale. As the illegitimate child of Zeus, Theseus lives a normal peasant life (taking care of his Mom and honing his 36-pack), until one day, when the bloodthirsty King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) strolls in and annihilates the town. Hyperion is on a search for the legendary Bow of Epirus, a weapon with the power to release the incarcerated Titans. Wiping Theseus' friends and family off the map doesn't really have anything to do with finding the bow...but it does give Theseus a reason to screw with Hyperion and find the artifact first. On a mission of vengeance, Theseus teams with a rough-around-the-edges criminal (Stephen Dorff) and a virginal oracle (Frieda Pinto) to locate the bow, alert a random group of soldiers of Hyperion's plans for war and take the ravenous madman down once and for all.

Immortals makes absolutely no sense—a fact that the filmmakers clearly have no qualms over. Unfortunately, the movie's not silly enough to overlook that fact. Unlike 300 (Zack Snyder's 2006 film that draws inevitable comparisons), Immortals wants to feel like a live-action video game/graphic novel while also dabbling in poetic storytelling akin to the famous myths it draws upon—a combination that results in a dense, sluggish narrative. Pretty, but dull.

The movie stays afloat thanks to the charisma and dedication of its cast. Cavill has the prowess of a leading man, turning his only two tasks, delivering cliche lines with vigor and ramming spears through the heads of stunt men, into something worth watching. Rourke's penchant for grunting and mumbling makes him the perfect candidate to spit out dialogue like, ''A man's seed is his most brutal weapon,'' and his Hyperion is wicked and goofy. Everyone else is there to wear Singh's ridiculous costumes (next year for Halloween, I'm going as ''Candle Stick Hat Guy''), take said ridiculous clothing off in a seductive manner (Pinto) or have their heads decapitated in a variety of manners. Singh is an artist, and in Immortals, blood is his paint.

Not even a late-game appearance by Zeus (Luke Evans), Athena (Isabel Lucas) and Poseiden (Kellan Lutz), who roll around to amp up the action from slightly ludicrous to full-on otherworldly, can invigorate Immortals. With Singh at the wheel, the movie should have been ambrosia for sword and sandal nuts—but the director once again falls prey to the allure of a great screencap. On pause, I imagine Immortals would mesmerize and intrigue, but in motion, accompanied by a thunderous score, muddy 3D and bland theatrics, it fizzles out. rated this film 2 1/2 stars.