Sunday, February 28, 2016

Review: Gods of Egypt

Image courtesy of Lionsgate.
As summer blockbusters and big budget action and sci-fi extravaganzas have continued to become more self-serious and humorless, it's somewhat of a relief to stumble across one as unrepentantly silly as Alex Proyas' "Gods of Egypt." Please don't mistake that for an endorsement as the picture represents a probable low point for a filmmaker whose career has included some very good genre films, such as the woefully underrated "Dark City" and the solid comic book adaptation of "The Crow."

Filled with absurdly inappropriate dialogue relative to its time period as well as the bizarre stylistic choice of making the gods - who walk among mankind and rule them in ancient Egypt - several feet taller than their human counterparts, Proyas' picture borders on camp and it would appear as if this were entirely intentional.

At the film's beginning, the sinister Set (Gerard Butler, hamming out of control) wrests control of Egypt by murdering his brother and maiming his nephew, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who was supposed to become its next ruler and has now been sent into exile.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town (sorry, couldn't help myself), a mortal and thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) has resolved himself to stealing a powerful jewel that can restore Horus' health in exchange for the exiled leader bringing back to life Bek's lover, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), who was struck by an arrow, died and ended up in the underworld.

Much of the film is a road trip movie during which the grouchy Horus and good natured Bek do everything but bond as they make their way back to Cairo, where Horus intends to slay his uncle. They are occasionally joined by others, including Horus' former love and the god of knowledge (Chadwick Boseman), who comes in handy when getting riddled by the Sphinx. Meanwhile, Set concocts a nefarious plan to bring about the end of days, rule the world, blah blah blah. Geoffrey Rush makes a cameo as Ra and is given equal opportunity to serve up a helping of fresh ham.

Some of the picture's visual effects - of which there are many - are impressive enough, although the humans frequently look out of place as they are dodging them. The film looks expensive, but it has a B-movie feel to it throughout, especially when one notices such things as how modern the vendors selling clothes on the streets of Egypt appear to be or how all of the film's conflicts are settled with two people slapping each other around atop mountains.

"Gods of Egypt" is not a particularly good film, but it's at least not as sadistic as "300" or self-serious as "Exodus: Gods and Kings." And in terms of authenticity, it has about as much to do with the Egyptian tales of lore as that Bangles song. You could do worse, although I'd advise you not to attempt it.

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