IAB’S Shelf: “Gods of Egypt” (2016) IAB’S Shelf: “Gods of Egypt” (2016)
"'Gods of Egypt' is not a good movie, but it might have made a great 16-bit arcade game once upon a time..." IAB’S Shelf: “Gods of Egypt” (2016)

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Gods of Egypt (2016)
Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless

Yes – my curiosity finally got the best of me and I checked out this movie. It got some pretty hilarious reactions ever since the first character posters and teaser trailers came out, it completely tanked on it’s opening weekend which made director Alex Proyas post some mad rants during the following week about how “reviewers killed his film and the really don’t know anything about anything….” and so on and so forth. It was just too golden of an opportunity to finally see what all the hubbub was about.

What the hell happened to Alex Proyas? He was one of the most promising genre filmmakers in the 90’s, directing “The Crow“(1993) and “Dark City“(1998).He then went back to his native Australia to make a rock band-comedy “Garage Days“(2002) – which is an underrated film that I don’t think too many people have even seen. But then something changed; we’ve got the studio/Will Smith/Akiva Goldsman-dictated scifi-actioner “I, Robot“(2004) and “Knowing“(2009) – of which I’m still not sure what the hell it’s intention was – and now, we get “Gods of Egypt” which is, to put it mildly, a mess. Let’s dig a bit deeper…

The story takes place in an “alternate” Egypt, where Gods have decided to live amongst the humans. Osiris(Bryan Brown) – the King of Egypt – has decided to retire and is preparing to pass his crown to his son, Horus(Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) – Lord of the Air. During the coronation, Osiris’ brother Set(Gerard Butler) – who was made God of the Desert, and I guess has had enough of sand(it gets everywhere, you know) – kills Osiris and after a short battle bests Horus and takes out his eyes, which are the source of his power. Set appoints himself as king and Horus is sent into exile. All the humans are basically made slaves, which of course sucks.

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“Spartans!!!! Prepare for BORING!!!!”

One year later, the story’s protagonist Bek(Brenton Thwaites) is given the floor-plans of Set’s massive pyramid by his beloved, Zaya(Courtney Eaton). Zaya works as a slave for Set’s architect Urshu(Rufus Sewell) so she has access to things like that. She urges Bek to break into the pyramid, so he can steal back Horus’ eyes so Horus can bring balance back to the Force– Sorry, wrong movie. Anyways – so Horus can get his Mojo back and kick Set right back into the desert from where he came. Now – Bek is what you’d call a Parkour Thief, so breaking into the vault consists of hopping on several moving platforms and narrowly avoiding a number of the Most Overboard Traps Ever. Of course, he only gets one eye – and in the aftermath he also manages to get Zaya killed. But this is of course not the end, as Zaya has to make a long walk in the afterlife(which looks a bit like the alien dimension from “Phantasm”). Horus promises to help Bek bring Zaya back from the dead, if Bek first helps him gain access to Set’s pyramid.

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“You mean there was a SCRIPT?!!?”

Horus pays a visit to his grandfather Ra(Geoffrey Rush), who spends his time flying in space on a Solar-Sailer and keeps the all-devouring beast Apophis from extinguishing all life during the nights. So – that old thing. It’s pretty unfair, don’t you think? All other Gods live like kings on earth and the cranky old retiree gets to do all the dirty work. Anyways – Horus gets Ra to give him a flask full of Divine Water, so he can use it “to extinguish the desert’s thirst” or something of that ilk – and that would seriously weaken Set’s powers. Thrown in the mix are Hathor(Elodie Yung) – the Goddess of Love, who is Horus’s former squeeze and now Set’s Love-Slave and Thoth(Chadwick Boseman) – the God of Wisdom who knows everything. Which comes in handy as somewhere along the line they need to pass a Sphinx that will ask some riddle. As all this is going on, Set has other things to take care of: he’s destroying all the other remaining gods one by one, collecting the sources of their power so he can become stronger than everyone and combine the mortal and underworld realms to gain– What, exactly? You know, I never quite figured that out. I guess he hadn’t thought that far ahead…

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“What is your favorite color???”

Okay, let’s start by quoting this films Wikipedia page, where director Alex Proyas has listed the following films as influences for this one: “The Guns of Navarone”, “Lawrence of Arabia”, “The Man Who Would be King”, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and “Sergio Leone’s western films“. Sounds like a pretty cool list, don’t you think? Too bad that absolutely NO influence of any of these films can be seen in the final result. Instead, as I was watching this thing unravel in front of my eyes – a completely different set of influences started to become very clear…

Let’s start with our protagonist, Bek: like I said, he’s a “Parkour Thief” and all of his action basically consists of climbing, swinging on ropes and jumping from one platform to another – while avoiding all sorts of deadly traps. Sound familiar? Bek is basically Prince of Persia(or should be called Prince of Egypt here? I’m not sure – Thwaite’s blonde-ish hair practically SCREAMS Egypt anyway – but I think that conversation was had many millions of times over the casting of Ridley Scott’s “Exodus”). He even has a “princess” to save, like the hero of that game does – although she’s a bit further away than just the Castle Tower, but still…

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Then there’s the Grumpy Grandfather Ra: he spends his days sailing in what looks like an unused design for the “Tron: Legacy” Solar-Sailer and when the sun sets, he begins to shoot an endless array of videogame light-balls at a slow-moving giant worm-cloud. Ra is basically the lead character in Every 8 or 16-bit side-scrolling shoot ’em up game that there ever was.

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Then there’s Horus and Set: did I mention that all the god-characters are 9 ft tall in their “normal” mode? Well, when they get into fighting stuffs, they transform into 12 ft. tall metallic bird-like CGI creatures? I guess those are meant to be some sort of a battle armor. And Set’s master plan entails him collecting a certain number of objects from the other gods, so he can update his armor into a Super-Powered Battle Armor! It’s sort of like that thing of collecting five mini lion-bots to form one Super-bot(a little nod to “Deadpool” there). These characters are pretty much from your basic beat ’em up-game – for Pete’s sake, the camera even circles around them while they’re fighting – like in “Tekken” or “DOA” or what have you. All that’s missing is the energy meters on top of the screen.

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“Set has leveled up and gained the +20 Rouge Armor!!!”

See a pattern emerging? That’s what “Gods of Egypt” reminds me of; it’s like a bad video-game adaptation from a game that never got made. Every action scene follows a videogame-logic: let’s run through obstacles and dispatch a certain number of lowly soldier characters until we get to the fight with the Level End-Boss(be it big Rhino-gods in armor or two warrior-goddesses riding giant snakes). And then we jump into a poorly acted cut-scene. It’s like someone found a script for an unmade “God of War”-game spinoff and decided to turn that into a movie script, as is.

And yeah, there really was not much thought put into the casting: Gerard Butler just plays Leonidas 2.0 and Coster-Waldau plays Jaime Lannister 2.0(only this time he’s missing one eye instead of one hand – that’s RANGE, man…) and so on. The entire movie was probably filmed on a greenscreen-stage, and it shows; some of the compositions are so bad that it reminds me of the rear-screen projection of the 60’s. The CGI-characters are mostly clunky – I actually think “The Mummy Returns” had some better CGI animation in places…. I could go on and on – but there would be no end to it. If you want to see a movie where Leonidas flies into battle in a chariot pulled by what looks like two flying giant dung-beetles(I GUESS they were meant to be Scarabs…), then by all means – check it out.

You won’t believe your eyes.

“Gods of Egypt” is not a good movie, but it might have made a great 16-bit arcade game once upon a time.

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I Am Better

Coming from the frozen wastelands of Finnish tundra. Mr. Better seeks warmth from his television & home theater and all the wonders they provide. He occasionally dabbles in the arts of drawing and photography.

  • Jen ?

    You really have a depth of writing and a point of view AB;)

  • I_am_better

    ;D Thanks. I wish the writers for this movie had had that.

  • Doctor Block

    After many hours of medical tests, I pretty much concur with all of this.

  • Block lives matter!

    “Super-Powered Battle Armor!” was that shit used for selling action figures?
    This has got to be one of the lamest mythology films since the Clash of Titans reboot!
    Oh, I thought egyptains had a darker shade of color. Defaq!
    Gods of Egypt is the biggest Whitewash since Taylor’s Cleopatra and Dragonball z Evolution. XD

  • I_am_better
  • Kylo Ronin

    Damn, when the CGI from The Mummy Returns seems better than the CGI from this movie, y’know it’s going to be sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo “good.”

  • I_am_better

    I think Mummy Returns had a better-looking CGI-Anubis that this movie did, for sure

  • Dee-abolik

    Haha, great angle! But those games were fun at least.

  • Dee-abolik

    “Osiris’ Law: Bury the dead. They stink up the joint. As for the rest of Osiris’ Laws, ignore them. The guy was always full of shit. But I guess you knew that already.”

  • Tarmac492.1

    Great review IAB. Was this some sort of religious penance you had to pay by watching this?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Piscopo was offered 10 mil to play Osiris. He took one look at the script and said ” I am happy in Hackensack.”

  • Tarmac492.1

    IAB, this is what happens when you drink and channel surf. You watch Gods of Egypt. Lesson learned.

  • Dee-abolik

    Piscopo>Bryan Brown?

  • Tarmac492.1

    Great point about Proyas. WTF happened to this dude? Maybe a hack in auteur’s clothing?

  • Dee-abolik

    He was never an auteur, but a very inventive entertainer. The quality curve of his works starts going down with “I, Robot”.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Piscopo>Everyone

  • Tarmac492.1

    More talent than Singer, another one who ran into a few(baseball term for bad hitters who hit a home run or 2. You love American sports terminology)

  • I_am_better

    It was either this or 50 lashes. In hindsight…

  • Dee-abolik

    He is better than Singer by miles.

  • Tarmac492.1

    The sting from the lashes subsides quicker.

  • I_am_better

    Watched “Milius” on TV last night. The balance has been restored.

  • Tarmac492.1

    Singer has minimal artistic instincts. Agreed. I take Wan over both. I am biased.

  • I_am_better

    I looked through his Wiki profile. Apparently he spends years developing more personal stuff, and everytime those projects backfire, he takes a studio gig.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I will check to see if he does TV. He should. The Crow was phenom, as was Dark City.

  • Tarmac492.1

    I wonder if the well made movies on IAB’s shelf taunt Gods of Egypt the way the rich bitch girls taunt the ragamuffin in hand me down clothes?

  • I_am_better

    Hasn’t done any so far

  • I_am_better

    Tbh, I shoulda called this “IAB’S USB”…

  • I_am_better

    “I, Robot” – also known as “Product Placement – The Movie”

  • Dee-abolik

    They even called the products by name!!!

  • Jen ?

    😉

  • Jen ?

    LOL!!

  • CoolHandJuke

    I’m sure I’ll check this out one of those weekends I get free HBO…

  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better
  • I_am_better
  • Dee-abolik

    that’s the scene

  • Bop

    Thanks for taking one for the team, ABs.

  • I_am_better

    Lol, no problem XD

  • SullyOar

    Looks like I’m the odd one out here. I really didn’t think it was that bad, well certainly not the wr, and howthe script must have been devised to match his sensibilities closer to The Crow and Dark City, and at least some of those inspirations he brings up, namely Raiders. And each attempt to reitterate some mythology into an inventive yet almost slight of hand depiction ory telling was well enough conceived. It was just a case of no lessons learned from the Star Wars prequel trilogy again. It wasn’t an immersive reality, there often no real sets with amazing practical effects for any actors to immerse themselves in and work off of. If it had had this going for it and its budget, the movie would have hit the mark. I think of the last Pirates of Caribean movie. That movie had incredible set and stage design going for it, but something was off with the humour and character interplay and sense of fun. Gods of Egypts script and actors were a lot more primed to carry that, and I actually found the movie to be alot more fun and inventive.