Film Review “Gods of Egypt”

Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites and Chadwick Boseman
Directed By: Alex Proyas
Rated: PG-13
Running Time: 127 minutes
Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars

The short voice over and quick crash course lesson in Gods, mortals, and other random nonsense populating “Gods of Egypt” in the first five minutes were definite signs for concerns. My worries about choosing the wrong movie to screen for the week began to come to fruition as I furrowed my brow at Set (Gerard Butler) spouting outrage over soap opera drama at Osiris (Bryan Brown) and being denied his inherent birthright by Ra (Geoffrey Rush) while Osiris’ son, Horus (Coster-Waldau) watches in shocking horror. Despite the visual theatrics, I immediately thought, “What the hell is happening?”

“Gods of Egypt” takes a while to settle into its own mythos, which is rubbish. There is a cause for concern about CGI heavy films in an ancient setting ever since the 2010 remake of “Clash of the Titans”. While “Clash of the Titans” used computer animation as a crutch for a lack of plot and acting, “Gods of Egypt” manages to blend the sword-and-sandal concept with child-like wonder through the CGI. It also helps that it never takes itself too seriously, allowing for small moments of seriousness to squeeze into the visual thrills and action set pieces.

I don’t mean to leave you hanging on what the hell this movie is about, because I assure you that it does pick-up after its bumbling beginning. Horus has his powers, which are his eyes, removed by his uncle, Set. Egypt goes from a civilization of peace to one dominated by war and slavery. The human, Bek (Thwaites), through the persuasion of his love in life, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), manages to steal one of Horus’ eyeballs and return it to the drunk and exiled God.

From that point on, Bek and Horus team up to get vengeance and restore some level of sanity (which seems like a useless word in a movie like this) to Egypt. There are more characters that show up and join Bek and Horus, but their introductions seem more natural because we’re not being bombarded with dozens of other characters all at once. Once “Gods of Egypt” has established the rules of its world, we’re able to follow along, relax, and enjoy the movie for what it is, dumb, shameful fun.

I feel a little guilty for liking this movie. Maybe that’s because it feels like such contemptible cash-in on the part of Lionsgate, even though they’re more than likely burning their earnings from “The Hunger Games” franchise on this one. Part of me doesn’t feel guilty though. The movies in the past that are very much like this, “Prince of Persia” and “Clash of the Titans” were actually attempting to cash-in on a different platform’s success or degrading it’s source material. “Gods of Egypt” is an original work and such ambition, even when it’s not necessarily very good, should be viewed in a different light as opposed to audacious remakes and reboots.

There is some Hollywood whitewashing and it does come at an inappropriate time, with the Oscars happening in the same weekend. Although, having Gerard Butler with a tan play an Egyptian God doesn’t feel as visually gross as Joel Edgerton plays Ramses II. That doesn’t excuse “Gods of Egypt” from lack of ethics, but like I said earlier, it’s shameful fun. The highest praise I can give “Gods of Egypt” is that it’s a decent waste of two hours, but I wouldn’t recommend you drop a single buck on this one.

DVD Review “The Ancient Egypt Anthology”

Channel: The History Channel
Number of discs: 6
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: A&E Entertainment
DVD Release Date: October 9, 2012
Run Time: 540 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

When it comes to learning about our past, I immediately think about The History Channel.  They always deliver impressive programming and nice DVD releases.  Though this release is not that impressive. Basically out of the 6 discs included, there are only two discs of new programs.  “Planet Egypt” was produced in 2012 and contains four 45 minutes episodes.  This four-part miniseries explores Egypt’s technology, culture, religion, wars and peace over 3,000 years. This is the star of the release and puts the others to shame.  Luckily this release is very cheap running for under $17 dollars on Amazon and it is worth it just for these two discs.  The rest of the extras are still informative and I will hold them as a bonus feature.

Next up on disc 3 and 4 is dated back from 2001, “Egypt: Beyond the Pyramids”.  This four-part series takes the viewers inside Egypt for (then) first-ever-filmed look into sites such as Tomb of Ramses II, the Abydos Boat Graves, and the skeletons at Mendes. Overall this series is decent but feels aged.  Disc 5 includes “Egypt: Engineering an Empire” from 2006, which runs 90 minute. Decent and includes some good information. The sixth disc is basically the dumping ground from the rest of the old specials. “Ancient Egypt: Modern Medicine” is the worst quality of the three but has this certain vintage charm.  “Egypt’s Great Queen” delivers some interesting information about Hatshepsut. “The Great Pyramids of Giza and Other Pyramids” is the oldest dating back to 1997. Lastly, we have the aging special “Ramses’ Egyptian Empire”.

Official Premise: From its unification in approximately 3100 B.C. to its conquest by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., ancient Egypt was the preeminent civilization in the Mediterranean world. This special 6-disc collectible set headlined by HISTORY’s best-selling programs; including the acclaimed Egypt-focused episode of the Emmy®-winning series ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE, and the highly-rated mini-series PLANET EGYPT, THE ANCIENT EGYPT ANTHOLOGY pays homage to this rich and complex culture and explores it from its very beginnings as a land of disparate peoples, through its dynastic zenith and to its ultimate decline.