Gods of Egypt

gods-of-egyptGods of Egypt is a train wreck of a movie. It’s one of those movies which is so bad it’s fun to watch, viewed in the right frame of mind.

Things are prosperous in ancient Egypt. When the god Osiris (played by Bryan Brown) abdicates his throne to give to his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) the evil god Set (Gerard Butler) kills Osiris and takes the throne for himself. Set blinds Horus by stealing his eyes which subsequently deprives him of his powers. Set casts him out to wallow in self-pity. Set begins his reign of terror by conquering all the areas surrounding Egypt.

In a parallel story line, a lowly mortal thief, Bek (Brenton Thwaites) loses his true love, Zaya (Courtney Eaton) after Set’s temple builder, Urshu (Rufus Sewell) kills her. The two story lines converge when Bek seeks out Horus with the hope that the god can bring Zaya back from the dead. In turn, Bek promises to help Horus by getting his eyes back so that he can regain his powers and ultimately defeat Set before the world is plunged into chaos.

One big problem with the movie is that most of the major roles are played by white actors of Northern European descent. Brenton Thwaites and Bryan Brown are Australian; Rufus Sewell is English; Gerard Butler is Scottish; and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is Danish. So right off the bat, there are lots of white guys playing characters from Northern Africa. Gerard Butler’s heavy Scottish accent is troublesome as well. It seems as though he’s from the Scottish section of Egypt.

The CGI is mostly good, but does look unfinished and hurried in some scenes. But to be fair, the backdrop of ancient Egypt is stunningly rendered in CGI; it’s apparent that a lot of the CGI budget was spent on this.

Despite its flaws, God’s of Egypt is an entertaining movie. The action sequences are well done and the CGI makes the Egyptian gods look larger than the mortals. The storyline is a creative re-imagining of the ancient Egyptian myths.

Gods of Egypt is best viewed for what it is: disposable entertainment in which you don’t have to think to hard. If you can just let the movie wash over you, it can be highly entertaining.

Worth a look if you can overlook some of the more glaring flaws and/or you like ancient Egyptian mythology.

Skip it if the at-times-cheesy CGI or white guys playing Northern Africans would annoy you.

Click on the following link to place a hold:

Gods of Egypt

-Steve

 

Under the Radar Movies: Dark City

MV5BMTg3MjI3NjYxM15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODIyMzA4MQ@@._V1_SY317_CR5,0,214,317_AL_This is one of my all-time favorite movies; it is a bleak, surrealistic exploration of the nature of reality. It didn’t do well at the box office, and has been mostly ignored since it’s release in 1998.

The film opens with John Murdoch (played by Rufus Sewel) waking up naked in a bathtub. He has lost most of his memories and even worse, he finds he is wanted for a string of brutal murders, which he may or may not have committed. While trying to unravel the mystery, he uncovers a sinister plot involving malevolent, infinitely powerful beings, The Stangers, using humanity  for their nefarious purposes. When Murdoch finally unravels the truth, it is much more horrific than he could have possibly imagined.

 Dark City uses many themes from Gnostic Christianity, which was a early, mystical branch, branded early on as heresy by the Orthodox Church and eventually persecuted out of existence. So complete was the extermination of Gnostic thought, that most of what we know came from the discovery of a hidden cache of their documents in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, Egypt. This was perhaps the greatest religious discovery of the 20th Century. Some themes from the writings of the Nag Hammadi library include: reality is an illusion; the material world is corrupt; an infinitely powerful but imperfect  being, (named the demiurge, after Plato) is actually the creator of the Earth; human beings, while being made of corrupt matter, contain a divine spark; the only path to salvation is through secret, arcane knowledge.

In the world of Dark City, reality is an illusion: the infinitely powerful and malevolent Strangers continually form and reform reality using the memories and dreams of the denizens who are unaware of what is truly happening and thereby are permanently trapped. John Murdoch is the Christ/Savior/Messiah figure who is able to transcend the illusion and ultimately offer salvation to those trapped within it. He does this by “tuning” which is the ability to step outside the illusion and see reality as it truly is.

If all this sounds sort of familiar, The Matrix also explored these themes, but was released the year after Dark City.

The supporting cast is very good: Jennifer Connelly and William Hurt turn in excellent performances. The only criticism is that Kiefer Sutherland’s character possesses an annoying stammer, which is distracting. But other than that, Sutherland is fine in his role.

The movie raises the question: is it better to know the truth, however horrible? Or is it better to be trapped in a safe, familiar, comfortable illusion permanently, never realizing that it is illusion? For some, illusion is preferable as the truth would drive them mad. But  on the other hand, there are those who must know the truth, no matter what the cost and no matter how unsettling.

Click on the following link to place this movie on hold:

Dark City

Worth a look if you like dark, introspective films dealing with the nature of truth and reality.

Skip it if your favorite director is Michael Bay.

-Steve
MDE’s Self Appointed Movie Critic