Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Gerard Butler Double: Gods of Egypt

This past weekend we took in a screening of 2016's first big budget bomb, Gods of Egypt. The film already had bad buzz going in as a mainly white cast was displayed in the trailer of a story set in a country that links Africa to the Middle East. Front and center you had Australian, Danish and Scottish faces along with a very divisive preview showcasing outlandish special f/x and computer generated action. You had separate apologies from the studio and director before the film even opened. The reported $140 million would be franchise starting flick opened with a not great $14 million and has generated just $72 million worldwide in two weeks. But I'm a sucker for fantasy set action films, especially of the sand, sandal and sword variety. Clash and Wrath of the Titans were fun adventure tales while 300 was more workout inspiring than solid film and Immortals being straight difficult to watch. Was Gods of Egypt as bad as the hype? Would it unfairly be classified as unwatchable as Legend of Hercules or Conan the Barbarian reboot? It's a strange film but has some very interesting things going on. Director Alex Proyas has shown talent behind the camera with The Crow, Dark City, I, Robot and Knowing but GoE is hamstrung by it's ambition and lack of resources to execute.

Written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, Egypt starts by explaining to the audience how the Gods lived on Earth because they had great powers and liked being worshiped. They're also taller than mortals which set off an alarm immediately. Then we meet young thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) trying to make a better life for his love Zaya (Mad Max: Fury Road's Courtney Eaton) on their way to a ceremony for Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) who's about to become king. But big bad uncle Set (Gerard Butler) shows up, kills the king, puts a whupping on Horus and assumes the throne. From there it's a journey of sacrifice and redemption as Bek enlists the sulking Horus on a mission to get them both back something they've lost. The ambition and scope of the film is immense but not quite carried out to a T, you have some really bad CGI going on, from animated creatures fighting to horrendous green screen walking. The taller gods to humans ratio is also strange to watch. But there's plenty of fighting and the design is quite impressive. From the armor to kingdoms to humanoid animal troops and mythical creatures to a floating barge up in space, Gods of Egypt contains moments of excellence along with a sense of humor, lots of muscular bodies and plenty of cleavage. Below the main white faces you do get a solid supporting cast of non-WASP looking faces like Eaton, Elodie Yung, Rufus Sewell and Chadwick Boseman. Although the lady and I laughed that everyone more or less sounded English but Gerard Butler kept his thick Scottish brogue.

I'm not sure if the film would have done that much better without the white washing controversy as the trailers seemed to put many casual viewers off with it's over the top shine and video game like quality. It goes on a bit too long at over 2 hours but you definitely get your money's worth of visuals and action on the big screen. Game of Thrones' Coster-Waldau is the latest star of the hit show to not crossover to film, following Jason Mamoa's unsuccessful turn as Conan, Kit Harrington lead flop Pompeii, Emilia Clarke as a lackluster Sarah Conner in the under performing Terminator: Genisys, Gwendoline Christie not doing much in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, on and on. 3 episode guest star Ed Skrein did take over from Jason Statham for The Transporter reboot and is currently the villain in high grossing hit Deadpool so you never know who's going to go where from TV. Star Butler did little promotion for the film, electing to focus on starring/producing effort London Has Fallen which opened just one week later.

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