Somewhere, the gods are laughing.
That would be the Greek gods, Zeus and his crew, who must be enjoying the folly and folderol that is “Immortals,” a silly, would-be swords-and-sandals epic set in ancient Greece.
The movie, as directed by Indian-born stylemeister Tarsem Singh (“The Cell”), is full of ravishing images and makes effective use of its 3D — lots of swords, arrows, blood and severed body parts coming right at you — but its characters and story are as dull as modern day particle board.
“Immortals,” clearly hoping to attract the hordes who embraced “300," is full of shirtless and leather-clad muscular men, military maneuvering and clanging swordplay. This one also embraces the supernatural, in the form of Greek gods, comely oracles, and a sought-after magic bow.
The movie’s hero is Theseus (Henry Cavill), a lowly stonemason picked by Zeus to lead his fellow mortals in the fight to defeat King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), a sadistic, power-hungry ruler. Hyperion is the kind of guy who orders someone’s tongue cut out just for fun.
Helping Theseus along the way are Phaedra (Freida Pinto), whose oracular powers enable her to recognize his heroic potential; Stavros (Stephen Dorff), a snarky freed slave; and various Greek gods, including Athena (Isabel Lucas).
Those hoping for a solid grounding in the classics will be disappointed by “Immortals.” The movie has about as much to do with actual Greek mythology as Mickey Mouse cartoons do with the study of rodents.
Case in point: In Greek mythology, Athena was the goddess of wisdom. She was a smart cookie, always in on the action and decision-making. In “Immortals,” she’s eye candy, a simpering twit who would be lucky to crack three digits on her combined SATs.
Cavill, the British actor who will next play Superman in the 2013 reboot, “Man of Steel,” shows off a sinewy physique and requisite ability to look determined. Beyond that, there’s little he can do to enliven a script that seems to have been assembled simply by cobbling together snatches of screenplays from earlier films such as “300,” “Clash of the Titans,” “Troy,” etc.
Rourke, a long way from “The Wrestler” here, hams it up as Hyperion, strutting about and purring with self-satisfied glee as he presides over yet another bloody beating or mutilation.