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  Gods of Egypt Ancient Material
Year: 2016
Director: Alex Proyas
Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Rufus Sewell, Geoffrey Rush, Courtney Eaton, Bryan Brown, Emma Booth, Rachael Blake, Abby Lee, Robyn Nevin, Alexander England, Goran D. Kleut, Bruce Spence
Genre: Action, Fantasy, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: The Gods of Ancient Egypt shared the land with the mortals, though there was no doubt as to who was in charge as they ruled over them thanks to their superior powers and strength. But there had been peace and prosperity under the tutelage of Osiris (Bryan Brown) until he decided to pass his mantle on to his son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) at a vast ceremony where the population of the city are in attendance. One of the mortals there was Bek (Brenton Thwaites) who was accompanied by his beloved partner Zaya (Courtney Eaton); he was something of a rogue, but had his heart in the right place, which was why he was horrified along with everyone else when Set (Gerard Butler) crashed the party...

It's safe to say Gods of Egypt was one of the worst-reviewed films of its year, and that indignity was only compounded when director Alex Proyas loudly complained about its critical reception, as if it was only professional cultural analysts who were deeply unimpressed by it, when there was a large swathe of the moviegoing public who thought it was awful as well, and they were just as vocal online as the critics had been in print or on broadcast. Once again, the gulf between what the masses were supposed to be enjoying and what the commentators' consensus was telling us we should be enjoying was being widened in the popular view by would-be blockbusters which were believed to have been given a raw deal.

There was certainly an added glee to the reaction when Proyas threw his toys out of the pram that everyone, professional and amateur alike, could feel they were having an influence on what was served up as mass entertainment as often the sense that the consumer should have more of a say in their amusements was driving a lot of the reception to films (and other media) that had not even been completed yet, and that wish to mould them into the way you wanted to see them was proving addictive. Some got away with this by keeping the details of their productions as secret as possible (as far as they could in the internet age), but a lot of the time filmmakers may well have been wondering who was creating these things, themselves or some bloke with access to a blog and a message boards.

Gods of Egypt was a case in point thanks to a vocal contingent who disliked the casting, apparently believing the actors should all be black, no matter that there was a mixture of races in Ancient Egypt, this wasn't taking place in a recognisably accurate Ancient Egypt, and there were no such things as Ancient Egyptian Gods anyway so they could be cast any way they wanted. Basically it was trying to be a Clash of the Titans type of diversion, packed with effects and high adventure but pure escapism with that, so any connection to reality was, if anything, by the by. We were dealing in the realm of myth and legend, and that meant a fantasy land where Gerard Butler could turn into a robot jackal and the bloke off of Game of Thrones could be a metal flying bird, both of them shooting Star Wars-esque laser bolts.

As long as you bore than in mind, that it was essentially all made up escapism, you would find Gods of Egypt acceptable as a shiny bauble masquerading as a blockbuster (it wasn't, it disappointed at the box office when poor word of mouth scuppered it). You could giggle at everyone trying with various degrees of success to put on English accents (Butler aside, whose Set was plainly from Paisley), at Geoffrey Rush as Ra, the Sun God, who obviously didn't have the faintest idea what any of this was going to look like, and at the self-serious tone that lent itself to parody, and not intentionally either, but as it stood this was simply an overdesigned slab of fantastical cinema that had no great claim to majesty or ingenuity, and relied so much on the blue screen technology and its accompanying computer effects that it resembled a CGI Saturday morning cartoon for too much of the time. All that said, it was quite possible to sit down with it and have a sufficiently good time that you wondered what the fuss was all about; nothing great, by any means, and its plotting was one damn thing after another rather than involving, but it would pass the two hours adequately. Maybe you just felt sorry for it, but there was worse out there. Music by Marco Beltrami.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Alex Proyas  (1963 - )

Egyptian-born director who grew up in Australia and directed dozens of high-profile music videos and commercials during the 1980s. Proyas's feature debut was the low-budget Spirits of the Air, Gremlins of the Clouds, but it was 1994's The Crow that brought him mainstream success and introduced his dark, stylish take on sci-fi and fantasy. Dark City was a futuristic film noir, while the Asimov-inspired I, Robot was one of 2004's biggest hits and Knowing an effects-filled addition to the popular apocalypse cycle. Also directed the Australian rock comedy Garage Days and much-lambasted fantasy flop Gods of Egypt, which caused him to have a public meltdown.

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