Friday, March 31, 2017

'Gods of Egypt' (2016) - movie review

Gods of Egypt

Gods of Egypt is a 2016 English-language fantasy film directed by Alex Proyas and featuring ancient Egyptian deities. It stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, √Člodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush. The film portrays a mortal Egyptian hero who partners with the Egyptian god Horus to save the world from Set and rescue his love.

Filming took place in Australia under the American studio Summit Entertainment. While the film's production budget was $140 million, the parent company Lionsgate's financial exposure was less than $10 million due to tax incentives and pre-sales. The Australian government provided a tax credit for 46% of the film's budget. When Lionsgate began promoting the film in November 2015, it received backlash for its predominantly white cast playing Egyptian deities. In response, Lionsgate and director Proyas apologized for ethnically inaccurate casting.

This is a fantasy film based on Egyptian mythology, with a heavy emphasis on the ancient Egyptian creation myth. There were three planes of existence: the earthly plane, the plane of the "gods," and the afterlife plane. It wasn't like the Greeks gods of film, looking over the affairs of humans; as some of the "gods" (male and female) here lived and ruled among humans. They were taller with superhuman powers, could morph into their individual mythological "stereotype" so to speak (jackal, hawk, etc.), can live a thousand years, and could transcend both the earthly plane and the plane of the gods. They could, however, be killed. Being supermen and superwomen, there was a powerful intended sexual undercurrent despite the film being appropriate for the entire family.

The film begins with a moving overhead shot that looked almost like a modern city with pyramids, temples, and palm trees. It quickly introduces the two protagonists: the youthful god Horus whose father Osiris is the King of Egypt, and the boyish young adult Bek. The god Horus has a slight attitude in the apparent process of finding himself, while the commoner Bek is energetically bouncing off of walls. Horus' love interest is Hather, the goddess of love; while Bek's love interest is young Zaya. Without giving away too much, Osiris' evil brother Set, played by zealous actor Gerard Butler of '300' fame, conducts a coup and takes over the nation.

When Horus attempts to stop Set, Set removes his eyes. However, those "eyes"--looking like glowing blue diamonds, are really more like stealing his high-tech device... they can be "put back." Every god and goddess has one of two such super "devices" specialized more specifically for them as individuals. This movie mixed high technology with an almost futuristic appearance, with the backdrop of ancient Egyptian style (landscape, architecture, dress). Bek steals the eye device, and soon teams up with Horus, and that's basically the gist of the movie. It's very fast paced, with many different computer generated scenes that make this a difficult movie to review if one wanted to sift through every scene and character. It's basically Set vs. Horace. Since I didn't give away anything beyond the first ten of fifteen minutes, I don't think I spoiled anything.

There are many other characters, such as the chief god Ra, which is Horus' grandfather. Set had already killed Osiris. Thoth is prominently featured. This was very much a fantasy movie, not so much because it was "fantasy"... but lets just say that it's very fast paced with many moving parts. The two protagonists grow on you as the movie goes on, and by the end become sort've a mutual-admiration-society.

Two apparently fantasy monuments depicted in this film caught my neopagan eye. One was a very tall proportionately slender obelisk-like temple, maybe darker in color, with a base that curved out wider. I couldn't find an image of it, but it struck me as an impressive design. The other was a relatively small, open, circular, sun symbol monument.... shown up on the first image here. It was depicted on the top a mountain, with the sun's rays blasting upon it from an upward facing angle. That's struck me as impressive.

One touchy issue, which apparently this film was not able to avoid, was the "race and ancient Egypt" thing. Since so many sides want "their way," and because there were different racial/ethnic factions in ancient Egyptian history, this would be a whole posting that I don't want to do. Why was it just sort've okay for Thor's father to be Black in film? Anyway, there were different races shown in the movie, both as gods and humans. The two protagonists were played by men of European ancestry, and their romantic interests were played by mixed European/Asian women who looked like the exotic fantasy perception of "Cleopatra-types."

Gods of Egypt Official Trailer #1 (2016) - Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites Movie HD

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