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"GODS OF EGYPT"
(2016) (Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) (PG-13)


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QUICK TAKE:
Fantasy/Action: The evil god Set blinds and casts out his rival, Horus, forcing him to join forces with a rebellious mortal to reclaim the Ancient Egyptian throne.
PLOT:
In Ancient Egypt, Horus (NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU) is preparing for the passing of the crown from his father, Osiris (BRYAN BROWN) the God of Nature, to him and he will rule over all the land as benevolently as his dad. But Osiris' vindictive brother, Set (GERARD BUTLER), has always been bitter that their father, the sun god Ra (GEOFFREY RUSH), favored Osiris over him. He crashes Horus' coronation with a massive army he formed in the Sahara, kills his brother, and pulls out his nephew's mythical eyes that have allowed him to never miss a target in battle.

Set spares Horus' life, though, to secure the hand of Horus' great love, the goddess Hathor (ELODIE YUNG). As Egypt falls to Set's dictatorship and slavery, Horus becomes a blind outcast. One mortal, Bek (BRENTON THWAITES), rises up in opposition. Bek is in love with Zaya (COURTNEY EATON), but she is killed by her new master, the conniving pyramid and tower architect Urshu (RUFUS SEWELL) when she and Bek try and run away together. Bek has stolen back one of Horus' eyes. Hoping that he can bring his lover back to life, he trades the eye in return for his knowledge of Set's stronghold to get the other eye.

On their journey back to Egypt, they enlist the aid of Thoth (CHADWICK BOSEMAN), the god of wisdom, and also receive welcome assistance from Hathor. But Set has been killing off the remaining lesser gods and goddesses and harnessing their powers. When Horus makes his way back to reclaim his kingdom, he will find him much more powerful than when he last left him.

OUR TAKE: 2 out of 10
The first major action sequence in the new fantasy flick, "Gods of Egypt," has Gerard Butler's evil, jealous god Set literally ripping the eyes out of the benevolent god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), his nephew who is about to be hailed as the new ruler of Ancient Egypt. I so wished I was Horus while watching this movie!

"Gods of Egypt," in which gods fight gods in the shadows of the old pyramids, is an assault on all that is holy to anyone who loves film. It's a full-on attack on the eyeballs with its near-constant 3-D, CGI special effects sequences. It's a bludgeoning of the eardrums, with composer Marco Beltrami working his horn and percussion sections like Quintus Arrius worked the slave-ship rowers in "Ben-Hur." And the script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless features some of the corniest, most hammy dialogue this side of a "Mystery Science Theater 3000" double bill. Sazama and Sharpless also co-wrote "Dracula Untold" and "The Last Witch Hunter." Take their laptops away!!!

"Gods of Egypt" arrives in theaters already bludgeoned by negative publicity regarding the casting of mostly white actors in Egyptian parts. Folks, the Egyptian actors in SAG should send "Thank you" cards to director Alex Proyas and his casting team for not hiring them. In fact, the only place this film might play well is in the cineplexes of Cairo and Alexandria. Audiences there are going to think this is a freakin' Mel Brooks comedy. They're going to be howling with laughter. The rest of us? I quote the fallen African-American god, Clubber Lang, "I predict ... pain."

The biggest problem with "Gods of Egypt" is it's just ... too ... darn ... MUCH! Proyas seeks to deliver a spectacle that is all spectacle, all the time. Every scene and sequence in this film is constructed to deliver a money shot, a big moment with big pyramids and big columns and big towers and big gods shooting fire and energy and transforming into falcons and jackals and other spirit animals with wings and shiny armor. There are no breathers. It's like going to a fireworks show that is all grand finale. It's like going to a Van Halen concert where the band just plays "Jump" over and over and over again. It's bludgeoning. You just want it to stop. It's like being on a really bad roller coaster that goes on too long; hurts your neck; hurts your head; and because there's no one in line, the operator runs you through again ... and again ... and again.

You wouldn't want to go to a comedy that is all one-liners. You wouldn't to go to a horror movie that is all jump scares. There has to be pacing and moderation. "Gods of Egypt" is just a miserable viewing experience in 3-D or otherwise. And it's also the classic case of the filmmakers having too much computer-generated trickery at their hands. Case in point, Brenton Thwaites plays one of the few mortals in the film who has any significant screen time. He is a thief and a lover who literally spends half the film running from CGI booby traps, boulders, falling columns, charging beasts, swooping winged creatures, enormous fireballs, and so forth. He's a video game character who is never in any real jeopardy because his body is doing things only possible in cartoons.

Then, there are several scenes where the various god characters are on stages or platforms being watched by literally thousands upon thousands of computer-generated extras. With the wonders of computers, filmmakers can make a crowd appear a thousand strong or a million strong. One problem. As the characters on the stage talk to each other and deliver dialogue, maybe -- and this is being generous -- maybe the first half-dozen or so rows of those gathered could strain to hear what they're saying in those Ancient Egyptian times. But the tens of thousands that stretch as far as the eye can see who are seemingly also reacting to their dialogue ... there's no way!

I was shocked to read that, given that this was shot in Australia, about 200 or so crew members and supporting actors were holdovers from the brilliant "Mad Max: Fury Road" that blended live action and special effects as well as any film in the past decade. That goes to show you what vision and true filmmaking talent can do. Not that Alex Proyas is a hack. He did make "The Crow" and "Dark City." All he's made here, though, is a dull, bad cartoon. If "Thor" and "Stargate" and "Wrath of the Titans" got together and had a threesome, this would be the unholy spawn that would be birthed from it. I give it a 2 out of 10 (T. Durgin)




Reviewed February 24, 2016 / Posted February 26, 2016


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