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Gods of Egypt' a disaster of mythic proportions

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Action film marred by bad story and even worse special effects

The first two months of the year tend to offer pretty slim pickings in terms of quality films. The simple truth is that January and February serve largely as dumping grounds for films that, for whatever reason, simply didn't live up to studio expectations.

Yes, there's the occasional outlier 'Deadpool' is Exhibit A from 2016 but for the most part, this is where films are simply abandoned so that they might hopefully just go away. And usually, that's just what happens.

However, sometimes, we're blessed with a different kind of outlier one from the other direction. This is when we get a movie so intrinsically, bafflingly bad that we can't help but regard it with a certain degree of morbid fascination. It's when we get a movie so actively unpleasant on all levels that one wonders how it possibly could have gotten made in the first place.

It's when we get 'Gods of Egypt.'

Imagine if you will an ancient Egypt where the gods were not simply invisible presences, but actual beings that walked among humanity and served as mankind's rulers. A roguish young thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites, 'Ruben Guthrie') and his young bride Zaya (Courtney Eaton, 'Mad Max: Fury Road') are preparing to attend the coronation of Egypt's new king.

Said new king is the brash Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, TV's 'Game of Thrones'), God of the Air, who is set to receive the crown from his father. But when Horus's uncle, the sinister Set (Gerard Butler, 'Olympus Has Fallen') seizes power, Horus is left blind and defeated. He crawls off to a temple in the desert, leaving Egypt and his beloved Hathor (Elodie Yung, 'Narcopolis') under Set's control.

Set basically enslaves everyone; Bek has somehow eluded capture, but Zaya has been placed under the control of architect Urshu (Rufus Sewell, TV's 'The Man in the High Castle'). She insists that only Horus can help them, so they put together an elaborate plan to steal back Horus's eyes (yes, really) so that he might save them.

And so it comes to pass that Horus and Bek team up to find a way to defeat Set and restore order to the kingdom or whatever. Along the way, they encounter such mythological luminaries as Thoth (Chadwick Boseman, 'Get On Up') and Ra (Geoffrey Rush, 'Holding the Man') the latter of whom spends every moment on the giant space boat that tows the sun across the sky, guarding it against the evil space worm Apophis, which wants to, I don't know, eat it or something.

It all comes down to whether Horus can summon up the strength to defeat Set so that he might set things right for humanity and that he might do right by his new friend Bek.

Well it's something like that, anyway. To be perfectly honest, the plot doesn't necessarily always make sense. It seems like some pretty significant steps are skipped along the way, while the stakes of the situation are almost never matched tonally by the script. A script, by the way, that refused to settle on what kind of story it even wanted to be. I'll put it this way a movie about the rampaging gods of Egypt probably isn't conducive to attempts at clever one-liners, and while there were plenty of one-liners, there wasn't a whole lot in the way of clever.

(We'll go ahead and mention here the ridiculous whitewashing of the cast. Thwaites looks like the kid from 'The Blue Lagoon' and Gerard Butler is basically mayonnaise with abs. I mean, Geoffrey Rush? It's like they're actively trying to be jerks.)

Oh, and that cast? Terrible. It was as if every single principal player was only there because he or she had lost some kind of ruinous bet. Thwaites seemingly never once makes the right choice as an actor. As for Coster-Waldau, it might be time to consider the possibility that his 'GoT' work is the outlier, because his movie work is consistently awful. Butler glowers and growls and trots out his usual tough guy tricks; he's basically a giant evil magic version of the '300' guy. The rest of the cast is mostly forgettable actually high praise for a pile like this although Rush offers the occasional glimpse of awareness regarding just how terrible this movie is.

Even that stuff could have been somewhat forgiven if the film had been some sort of feast for the eyes, an action extravaganza with high-end effects and a cool visual aesthetic. Alas, no. Instead, the film somehow manages to look 20 years old and not in the good way. The liberal and obvious reliance on green screens borders on the painful to look at, while some of the action sequences would look more at home in a video game cut scene from 1998 than in a major theatrical release in 2016.

It's an utter failure from director Alex Proyas. There's no story. There's no ensemble chemistry. There's no production value. Heck, there's no value of any kind. 'Gods of Egypt' is an absurd fever dream of a film, a wrong-headed mistake that will almost certainly fail to make back its $140 million budget.

Ladies and gentlemen I give you your current leader for Worst Film of 2016.

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Last modified on Wednesday, 02 March 2016 07:56


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