When it comes to some movies I’m at a loss as to why they do badly here in the States. I know one reason that the critics here roasted Gods Of Egypt was there were too many white people in it. Yeah, I can understand that. The movie is set in ancient Egypt and when I think of ancient Egypt the last thing I tend to think about are white people. In a perfect world that film should not have had one white actor in it, but sadly we don’t live in a perfect world, but was that enough for people to hate this movie outright? Maybe, yes, maybe, no. Personally, I saw that problem, but it didn’t deter me from loving the movie. And then there were the comments about how bad the CGI was. I know bad CGI when I see it, and I didn’t perceive any bad CGI in Gods Of Egypt. It looked on par with any other big budget action fantasy the major studios put out. Of course CGI has run rampant in movies, but that’s the way of things in 21st century movie making and that isn’t going to change any time soon. All you we can do as a movie watcher is limit your exposure or not watch at all. I’ll limit my exposure, since Hollywood does tend to crank out a CGI fest every once in a while I tend to enjoy and wouldn’t you know it Gods Of Egypt was one of them.
It reminded me of three movies, Immortals (2011), Jason And The Argonauts (1963) and Clash Of The Titans (1981). Notice how I said the 1981 version of Clash Of The Titans? Even though Clash was remade in 2010, director Alex Proyas’ flick does a much better job at making me reminisce about any of Ray Harryhausen’s Greek Myth movies than the actual remake of Clash ever did, and I can’t tell you exactly in what way. There was just that vibe. And every time I saw a monster or a monster character I said to myself if this was made back in Harryhausen’s era all that would be stop-motion animation. I consider Proyas’ Gods Of Egypt to be personally notable because of all the “sword & sorcery” flicks I have seen in the past years his was the only one that made me think of that late great stop-motion animator. The score, too, felt very much along those lines, which was a first. Scores in movies don’t generally make me reminisce. This one did.
In ancient Egypt the Gods live side-by-side with humans. They’re shape-shifters but for the most part look just like us except for their size, which is very notable when seen standing next to one of us. Egyptian Gods are a lot bigger. They also have gold for blood. And like us they can also be killed, but by other Gods mostly.
There are only three human characters, Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and his chick, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), and villainous master builder, Urshu (Rufus Sewell), the movie follows. Urshu’s part is small, Bek and Zaya are the two main human characters the movie revolves around.
And the Gods involved are Set: God Of The Desert (Gerard Butler), Horus: Lord Of The Air, (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Hathor: Goddess Of Love (Élodie Yung), Thoth: God Of Wisdom (Chadwick Boseman), Osiris (Bryan Brown), and Ra (Geoffrey Rush). Set, Horus and Hathor are the primary Gods the flick centers on.
Osiris is getting ready to make his son, Horus, a king, but things turn bad when Osiris’ brother, Set, shows up under the guise he’s perfectly all right with his nephew being crowned. He really isn’t. His army shows up, and he kills his brother. Horus tries to fight but fails and to add insult to injury Set plucks out both of his eyes. This was not a random act of eye violence, Set has a plan. He wants to rule not only the world but the Underworld and Horus’ eyes are part of that plan.
Cut to years later when the land is totally under Set’s rule. In this world you need to make a lot of gold to successfully pass through the Underworld when you die. Anubis is our “Egyptian Grim Reaper,” if you will, and is present to greet those that die and send them on their journey. Osiris ruled with an even hand and made sure everyone had their fair share of gold, but Set hordes all of it for himself and sets about conquering all the other Gods in the material realm. Horus has become a blind, reclusive God, holing up in his temple.
Humans Bek and Zaya are in love and Zaya is a slave to Urshu. Bek has an idea how to get Horus the crown he deserves. Steal his eyes back, which are deep underground in a temple that’s booby trapped. Bek has the map thanks to Zaya and proves he’s got the parkour moves to get the eyes. But there’s only one eye in this maze of death and that’ll have to do. Unfortunately tragedy strikes as he and Zaya race away in a chariot. Urshu kills her with an arrow. Staying on course, he finds Horus and wants to give back his eye, but for a price. Get Zaya out of the underworld. A King can do that, Horus tells him. A lie, but he needs this human to get his other eye back.
What I liked about this is that the God/human relationship reflects our real world upper class/lower class relationship. I didn’t think the movie would pull that in. My initial assumption was you’ve got good Gods versus bad Gods, which it is, but there’s that grey area of how the Gods really consider humans. Inferior. And Horus starts out looking like a decent God, but as we get to know him on his journey he’s kind of a dick, who treats Bek like the inferior being he believes he is. Not a total dick, that’s Set’s arena, but along the way Horus learns humans are just as equal to any God.
Part of Horus’ and Bek’s journey involves visiting Horus’ grandfather, Ra, who lives in this boat above the Earth’s atmosphere, towing the Sun and in charge of turning day into night and vice versa, but his real duty is keeping Chaos from attacking the earthly plane. Chaos is this immense worm-like demon whose body is composed of roiling shades and shadows and smoke. An impressive CGI effect. And Ra does battle with Chaos every goddamn night. Ra is also aware of everything that goes on in the Earthly realm and doesn’t think Horus’ rule would be much better than Set’s.
Hathor is Horus’ love interest, but became Set’s reluctantly until she learns of Horus’ journey and sets off to help him. You’ve got two sets of lovers in this movie and you just know one of them is not going to have a happy ending. Already Zaya is dead, but the movie cuts to her every so often on her underworld journey and she has no gold to offer the Gods to make them successfully pass her over.
Thoth comes into the picture because Horus thinks beating Set means he has to kill the desert and how do you kill a desert? You make it grow, and that’s why he takes magical water from around Ra’s boat and intends to pour it into the earth at Set’s pyramid. And another thing I loved about this movie are some of the monsters that are encountered. The best are two, giant fire breathing cobras these two female Gods ride like steeds. The other cool monster is the Sphinx that guards Set’s pyramid and since Thoth is the God Of Wisdom, they recruit him so he can solve the riddle of the Sphinx.
As I said most of these Gods can shape-shift and Horus’ other form is a flying, silver-plated humanoid. Set’s monstrous form does not have wings, but he’s taken wings from another God, eventually takes Thoth’s brain, and with Horus’ other eye, his new form is a supposed to be the ultimate shape for conquering and ruling these worlds.
The final act is pretty much like the final acts of the Clash Of The Titans remake and it’s sequel Wrath Of The Titans (2012), where there’s this insane apocalyptic event about to take place the hero(s) need to stop. That’s not to say that’s bad, it’s just the template for these movies. The world, the universe, all reality must be put in ultimate jeopardy. I generally get sick of that, but when it’s done well its fun to watch. I thought Gods Of Egypt did it well. Here it involves Set’s new monstrous form, the demon Apophis (Chaos) that’s now eating up the world because Set tried to kill Ra, and because of that even the Underworld is falling apart.
Believe it or not there’s kind of a happy ending . . . for Bek and Zaya. Ra, in gratitude, brings Zaya back from the dead. Hathor on the end had a “bad ending.” Horus’ rule ends up being much better. Now to get into the underworld all you need to do is be a more compassionate to your fellow human being. Fuck the gold!
I read this was, or is, supposed to be the beginning of a new franchise, but who knows now seeing how badly it did in the U.S. I hear though overseas audiences loved it, and the movie does have an definite ending. Actually it would be refreshing to see just this movie since Hollywood doesn’t seem to make stand alone movies anymore. Don’t get me wrong, since I loved this flick, I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing a follow-up, but, if there isn’t, that would be okay too. Gods Of Egypt has got a full rounded beginning, middle and end that left me satisfied . . . not mention exhausted, but in a good way.
Back on May 31st Summit Entertainment (A division of Lionsgate) released Gods Of Egypt in five separate versions: a 4K UHD/BD/Digital HD edition, a 3D BD/BD/DVD/Digital HD edition, a solo Blu-ray/Digital HD edition, a solo DVD/Digital HD edition and a limited edition steelbook.
Extras included . . .
- Deleted Storyboards (5:45)
- A Divine Vision: Creating a Cinematic Action Fantasy (11:48)
- Of Gods and Mortals: The Cast (10:52)
- Transformation: Costume, Make-Up and Hair (11:10)
- On Location: Shooting in Australia (12:44)
- The Battle For Eternity: Stunts (11:38)
- A Window Into Another World: Visual Effects (10:58)
(Note: If you buy the solo DVD the only features you’ll get is The Battle For Eternity and A Window Into Another World. The rest are blu-ray exclusives)
At one point I was going to compliment the sets, but with a movie like this coming to fruition in the 21st century there are no real sets. As all the extras can attest this movie’s landscapes and “sets” were all created in the computer. There were portions of certain sets made only. At any rate as I’ve mentioned I loved all the CGI and that included the environment. Gerard Butler looks like he has a fun time with these fantasy movies as you’ll see in his interviews and on the set footage. Gods Of Egypt will be my first Gerard Butler film that I’ll own.