Saturday, March 05, 2016

Gods Of Egypt

Year: 2016
Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brendon Thwaites, Gerard Butler, Courtney Eaton, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell

Plot: Horus, god of the air, is about to be bestowed as King of Egypt when his uncle Set, god of the desert, crashes the party and kills Horus' father Osiris, defeats Horus in combat and seizes the throne. Under Set's rule, the people of Egypt suffer. Hope rises in the form of Bek, a young human thief who must help Horus regain his power and his rightful place on the throne.

Review: By now you must have read or heard of the numerous poor reviews of this film, and director Alex Proyas' disdain for those reviews. His anger is quite understandable, as I feel most of these critics have been too harsh. I won't lie though, Gods Of Egypt is no masterpiece, but it isn't the awful film the critics made it out to be either.

The film centers on Egyptian gods who live side by side with mortals, and Horus, god of the air, is about to become king of the land when his uncle Set shows up, kills Horus' father Osiris and takes Horus' eyes after a scuffle. The other gods fear Set and do not oppose him. Horus lives in exile as Set rules Egypt with an iron fist, turning people into slaves. Bek, a young thief, is persuaded by his lady love Zaya to steal Horus' eye from Set's vault and help him regain his power so that he can take the throne. But it's easier said than done since Set is hunting them and the unlikely duo have to survive each other first.

Gods Of Egypt is basically Clash Of The Titans meets The Mummy, having the imagination of the former and the campiness of the latter, but not quite as fun as both films. It's quite an ambitious film judging by the $140 million budget, but the CGI does look dodgy at times, especially when Horus and Set transform into animal creatures. But more importantly, the film is coherent enough and never gets dull, not for me anyway. Proyas deserves credit for that, at least.

What's also noteworthy are the action sequences, most of which look good and were choreographed well. I also liked the Egyptian fantasy elements featured, like how the world is perceived to be flat, and Ra's continuous battle with the demon Apophis above it, and how the trip to the underworld looks like. These few little things help elevate the film above average quality.

However Gods Of Egypt suffers from poor casting. Now, I don't mean that whole controversy about casting Caucasians over Egyptians thing, I don't care much for that. I felt that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is a bit too old to play Horus, as he's only a year younger than Gerard Butler as his uncle Set. He's good for the role otherwise. Butler on the other hand seems to enjoy playing the bad guy here so that's a positive. Brendon Thwaites and Courtney Eaton are also poor choices for Bek and Zaya, as neither of them possess adequate acting chops to be convincing in their roles. Elodie Yung fares slightly better as Hathor, goddess of love and Horus' lover, but isn't endearing enough to be memorable. Chadwick Boseman's effeminate approach as Thoth, god of wisdom seems strange and a bit annoying at times. Other than Butler, only Geoffrey Rush as Ra is a spot on casting choice.

The two love relationships in this story are also unconvincing or uninteresting. Bek and Zaya's romance is underdeveloped and I wasn't convinced that they would die for each other. As for Horus and Hathor, they argue far too often which is a turn off for me. Some improvement was clearly needed in this aspect.

Overall I'd consider Gods Of Egypt forgettable, but quite fun if you let yourself enjoy it and not think too much of its flaws. (6/10)  

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