In this spectacular action-adventure, the survival of mankind hangs in the balance as an unexpected mortal hero Bek [Brenton Thwaites] undertakes a thrilling journey to save the world and rescue his true love. In order to succeed, he must enlist the help of the powerful god Horus [Nikolaj Coster-Waldau] in an unlikely alliance against Set [Gerard Butler], the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict. As their breathtaking battle against Set and his henchmen takes them into the afterlife and across the heavens, both god and mortal must pass tests of courage and sacrifice if they hope to prevail in the epic final confrontation.
Geoffrey Rush flying across the heavens on a boat towing the sun while he shoots fire at the ancient Egyptian demon Apophis might sound like a so-bad-it’s-good movie, but ‘Gods of Egypt’ doesn’t quite reach those heights. Sure, Rush as the Egyptian god Ra provides some chuckles in an otherwise drab film, but it’s not enough to lift it from its lifeless grave.
‘Dark City’ is great science fiction. I’m an ardent defender of ‘Knowing,’ but Alex Proyas’ latest is a CGI wasteland of spent tropes and uninteresting themes. His take on treating the Egyptian myths as if they were reality is a curious one, however it fails to realize its potential. Perhaps that’s because the movie is far too interested in its own visuals to care what’s beneath the surface.
Here we have the story of how Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is forced from being the next in line to rule Egypt by his jealous uncle Set (Gerard Butler). Butler seems tailor-made for these kind of roles. Throw some generic armor on him, give him a sword, and watch him scowl. Just as Horus is about to be crowned king of the gods, Set shows up and spoils the party. That’s not before we’re inundated with superfluous exposition about the gods, how they’re taller than normal people, how their blood is actually molten gold, and how all this we’re looking at came into being. The prologue seems to go on forever. Mercifully, it ends right around the point Bulter shows up and starts yelling at everyone.
There’s part of me that wants to embrace this malformed spectacle as something that most people just didn’t get. Unfortunately, I’m positive the unanimously under-enthused reactions are simply spot on.
Proyas tries dressing up this ho-hum big-budget blockbuster with special effects that appear instantly dated. It’s strange that a movie with the most attention applied to special effects can appear the phoniest. Less is more, right?
I wanted desperately to like scenes where female warriors ride around on giant fire-breathing cobras and when it happened I could barely muster a smile. Because beneath all that CG is a soulless movie that has no narrative direction whatsoever. Sure, Horus is trying to regain his throne with the help of a mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites). That could be an interesting dynamic, but it’s simply an odd coupling thrown together, because odd couples make the best road trip duos.
Then there are these times where the gods transform into large metallic creatures resembling the animal-headed Egyptian gods. They fight exactly like you’d expect large computer-generated creatures to fight – awkwardly. Each time it happens it feels the same as the last time it happened. Even now I’m trying to remember one memorable action scenes and I keep on thinking about the fire-breathing snakes and that’s it.
The movie’s not a total loss though. As I mentioned earlier Geoffrey Rush is cruising the skies fighting a demon and chewing up the scenery of outer space. He sports his I’m-cashing-a-paycheck grin and throws all he has into this silly movie. His performance is a bright spot amid the doldrums of Butler scowls and Coster-Waldau smirks. At least Rush is trying to do something with his character. I found myself wishing that the ‘Gods of Egypt’ could’ve been called the ‘God of Egypt’ and simply been the story about how Geoffrey Rush’s Ra created everything. Perhaps then it would’ve been an interesting way to waste a couple hours. As of right now, it’s just a waste.
Like many recently filmed large-scale VFX-driven movies, ‘Gods of Egypt’ boasts a strong 1080p presentation. So, while the movie’s overuse of digital wizardry might translate as soulless, at least it looks technically proficient when projected on the screen. At least there’s that.
Clarity of actors is crystalline. Most of the movie is created within a computer. Backdrops have a slight hazy look to them giving them some faux realism. It is easy, however, to tell what is created by a computer and what is an actual real-life set. Even so, for the most part the special effects on display here aren’t terrible looking by any means. They may not add much of anything to the storytelling, but they’ll fill up your screen with bright colors, defined lines, and deep shadows.
Speaking of shadows, black areas are sufficiently dark. I didn’t notice any banding, crushing, or abnormal graying when the black should be absolute. Aliasing also wasn’t present as far as I saw. Everything is give a yellowish filter to make it appear desert-like, while the underworld is provided a blueish tinge to make it appear dead. If you’re looking for an empty movie with good-looking, but equally empty special effects then you’ve come to the right place. At least it will look good on your setup.
I’m still awaiting the Marantz DTS:X update for my specific receiver so I listened to this with its core DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix. It’s a bombastic, at times, overbearing audio mix that will simply beat you into submission. If you like loud, unrelenting sound mixes then this one is for you. Like the VFX, the audio effects just never know when to give up. At times it’s immersive; other times it’s just frustrating.
Oh man the bass here is off the charts. There’s more than enough LFE to go around. Fight scene after fight scene is packed with rolling, punching low-end sonics. Surround channels are full of sound. Not just ambient noise, but all manner of sound that creates a full soundstage. When gods talk their voices naturally echo. This is a silly, but satisfying sound effect.
Dialogue is clear up front. Panning effects are seamless. As the true forms of Horus and Set tumble through the sky ripping each other to shreds, the clanking of celestial metal flies from one channel to the next depending on where they are on screen. At times I felt like the sound mix was trying too hard to be a big blockbuster mix, but it’s hard to fault it for trying too hard. For those who love loud movies that never know when to be quiet, this is your movie.
Deleted Storyboards (HD, 6 min.) – Two animatics are provided for a couple deleted storyboards.
A Divine Vision: Creating a Cinematic Action Fantasy (HD, 12 mn.) – Promotional fluff containing cursory information about the movie and its visuals.
Of Gods and Mortals: The Cast (HD, 11 min.) – More promo material, but this time talking about the recognizable faces that pepper the cast.
Transformation: Costume, Make-Up and Hair (HD, 11 min.) – A short featurette about the movie’s costumes and make-up.
On Location: Shooting in Australia (HD, 13 min.) – Strange that a film that appears to be created from the bowels of a computer was actually “shot on location,” but here you go. Visit some of the locations of the film in Australia.
A Battle for Eternity: Stunts (HD, 12 min.) – Some storyboards for action scenes, and a look at some behind the scenes footage for a few of the movie’s stunts.
A Window into Another World: Visual Effects (HD, 11 min.) – Finally, the requisite look at the movie’s VFX, how much it adores its VFX, and how much its filmmakers adore its VFX.
Sadly, ‘Gods of Egypt’ isn’t even so bad it’s good. It’s just bad. It’s one of those bad movies where you can’t help but wonder when it’s going to end because you’re dying to do something else. Anything else. Perhaps the good looking and good soundong disc might be enough to keep you entertained. That’s just swell. As for the movie, well, that’s a completely different story. Let’s chalk this one up to it being a bad movie, good disc.