Alex Casey is a staff writer for New Zealand pop culture-obsessed website The Spinoff and columnist for the NZ Herald.

Alex Casey: Gods of Egypt

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Gerard Butler portraying Set in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".
Gerard Butler portraying Set in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".

In the stark, filmic landscape that lies beyond the Oscars, there is nothing but badly CGI-ed tumbleweed and B-list actors plastered all over cardboard cut-outs making fart jokes. It's a special time and I like to reward myself for making it through awards season by enjoying a touch of cinematic junk. It's as if I've managed to eat enough green vegetables every day for a week and can now smash through a Hunger Buster from McDonald's.

I tell myself that doing this balances the film palate, giving one a brief taste of highly-processed sugary snacks and maybe even inducing a touch of nausea to keep you humble. This is why I went to see Gerard Butler don another leathery skirt and strut around in the preposterously epic Gods of Egypt.

You may think you haven't seen Butler for a while, and there's a good explanation for that. He has been trapped in ancient times, forever morphing from a man-shaped God to a dog-shaped metal thing to some kind of magnificent golden bird. Gods of Egypt follows the destruction that follows when Set, the god of disorder (Butler), returns to the kingdom of Egypt and starts throwing his weight around.

If I wanted to explain much more about the plot, it would take up the entire newspaper. Basically, Set's brother Horus relinquishes control of the kingdom after having his magical eyes plucked out by his brother.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau portraying Horus in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau portraying Horus in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".

Elsewhere with the mortals, a young rogue named Bek gets fed up with living under the tyranny of Set and tries to restore order by returning Horus' powerful eyes to their powerful sockets.

If you think that sounds absurd, you should wait for the part where everyone inexplicably bleeds gold paint from their wounds and Geoffrey Rush floats in the air like a ghost whil being 100 per cent on fire.

I sat there, mouth agape, as beetles the size of elephants pulled chariots. This version of ancient Egypt looked far more interesting than anything I ever saw in my history class.

Perhaps the most incredible directorial decision was to make the God characters still look like humans - but to stretch them out ever so slightly larger than the average size.

The result looked like something out of Peter Jackson's early Hobbit sketchbook, basically the same effect as a few basketball players scattered among school children.

It was jarring, distracting and hilarious to watch, almost like being in a very sandy
fun house.

Chadwick Boseman in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".
Chadwick Boseman in a scene from "Gods of Egypt.".

With the Gods appearing to only have a few centimetres height to their advantage over mortals, the film-makers looked to dramatic special effects to make their presence known.

For Butler, this meant whenever he smashed anything it exploded into a million little digital pixels, eerily like the pixels in Pixels. Perhaps they got a job lot on bad special effects and needed to pass it on to another flop? Who's to say?

Another glaring problem with Gods of Egypt, aside from all the golden blood and futuristic pixel-shattering, is the distinct lack of brown faces in any of the lead roles.

This is Egypt, for crying out loud, you can't just throw in Rufus Sewell - Kate Winslet's ex-boyfriend from The Holiday - and act like everything is fine.

They even tried to rub a bit of dirt on Butler's face, but that carry-on won't cut it any more. I have also never heard an Egyptian speaking with such a thick Scottish accent, but what do I know?

After that junk food binge, I think I'll stick to vegetables for a while.

- Spy.co.nz

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Alex Casey is a staff writer for New Zealand pop culture-obsessed website The Spinoff and columnist for the NZ Herald.

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