The chart-topping new Mickey Rourke film is the latest to use the ancient Athenian pantheon as mere window dressing for a conventional tale—in this case, a Christian one.
There was once hope for Immortals, the critical bomb that's the No. 1 film in the country right now. First, director Tarsem Singh made an effort to distance his film from its stylistic predecessor, the boneheaded and ethically questionable 300. Then there was the heavily advertised presence of the Gods and hints of all the drama which makes Greek mythology so juicy: sex, deceit, revenge, and egotism on the divine scale, all coupled with extreme violence (it would actually make an incredible reality TV series).
Singh does embrace these things, but only as far as the wardrobe is concerned. Sadly (or perhaps totally, completely, unsurprisingly) Immortals joins a long line of Hellenically inspired movies that have failed to take proper advantage of their source material. Some have tried earnestly, like Brad Pitt's 2004 epic, Troy, which handicapped itself by subtracting the Gods from the Trojan War myth, along with Achilles' possibly homosexual relationship with Patroclus (what's not to like about a gay epic action hero?). Another studious effort was last year's Clash of the Titans, which was too enamored with its overdriven action sequences to tell a good story. Others simply use the myths as window dressing on otherwise conventional tales, like The Lightning Thief's Greek Gods-version of the ever-cloying "Surprise! Your parents are actually Gods/Wizards/ British Royalty" trope. Maybe it's because a full embrace of Greek drama would have to include everyone's favorite subjects of pan-sexuality, incest, bestiality, and rape, that we have yet to see a solid and textually faithful adaptation.