Friday, February 26, 2016

Gods Of Egypt Review

I'm fairly confident that, in the future, Gods Of Egypt will be utilized as the prime representation of what happens when an overwhelming amount of CGI (and surprisingly shoddy computer generated effects at that) is used as a substitute for an actual story or compelling characters. The only caveat I bring to such a prediction is that Gods Of Egypt is so relentlessly dull that it might just vanish from the public consensus in a matter of weeks altogether. That would also be an appropriate fate for this motion picture, which (if you can't tell by my subtle clues in the past few sentences), I just didn't care for one bit.

Welcome to ancient Egypt as imagined by Gods Of Egypt, a magical realm where the majority of the citizens of this African civilization are whiter than Jim Parsons covered in snow. We follow our lead character, a thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites), as he watches the coronation of Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), who is about to claim the throne as king. But the nefarious uncle of Horus, a fellow by the moniker of Set (Gerard Butler), rips out the eyes of Horus and takes over the land. Everything then flash-forwards a year, and most of the citizens of this area, including Bek, have been enslaved. We, the audience, never get a glimpse into the mental toll such work must have on the characters or how the obvious changes in society came to be, we're just told all of this happened. It's as if the screenwriters had watched the scene in Star Wars where the Death Star blows up Alderaan and went "Yeah, that leaves an emotional impact...but wouldn't it be better if we never showed it and just had Luke, in voice-over, tell the audience 'Yeah, a planet got blown up and we were very very sad about it'?".

Anywho, soon Bek is off to return a single eye (he could only snag one of them) to Horus, in hopes that, with his vision restored, the God can remove Set from power and free everyone. And so begins a road trip movie, one where the film thrusts upon the audience two extremely boring individuals whose interactions result in no entertainment. The problem with having these two as a pair is that there's no contrast between the two in terms of demeanor, they're just both snarky and uninteresting fictional figures. In other, far better blockbusters like Jurassic Park and The Avengers, conflicting personalities colliding under intense circumstances drew out laughs, engaging character arcs and entertainment. Here, you'll be lucky if you can fight off the urge to take a snooze.

Their constant bickering is interrupted sporadically with tepid action sequences, and those also fail to drum up anything exciting or interesting. It doesn't help in these spectacle-driven segments that the visuals of the film are usually quite lacking, especially in cases where live-action humans are supposed to interact with CGI elements. A moment where Set rides a chariot pulled by giant beetles into combat appears to have the level of quality visual effects that would have been deemed subpar for a low-rent video game on the Nintendo Gamecube.

In terms of acting, well, it's all a wash, especially with our lead characters played by Brenton Thwaites and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. I've already touch on the unending whiny nature of the character played by Thwaites, but Waldau exudes zero screen presence in his turn here. That's kind of a problem when the character he plays is at the center of a number of crucial emotional moments in Gods Of Egypt. To be fair though, Gerard Butler does get one or two amusing bits in his bravado charged performance as Set. Butler plays the character in such an over-the-top cocky manner that he manages to sneak in a few amusing lines into this otherwise lifeless motion picture.

As the story of Gods Of Egypt plods along, there were only one or two plot points (namely, Geoffrey Rush as a God named Ra in charge of a spaceship that uses the sun to ward off a gargantuan demon) that I can recollect that caught my interest and such aspects of the film never stick around long enough to really make a difference in the overall quality of this production. This is such a stunningly miscalculated enterprise in every respect (from the obliviously racially insensitive casting to the clunky story), that I wonder if maybe it really would be best for us all to just forget this whole thing ever happened.

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