Weekend Forecast for February 26-28, 2016
By Reagen Sulewski
February 26, 2016
When is a blockbuster not a blockbuster? We're about to find out this weekend as a CGI tech demo masquerading as a spectacular superhero film tries harder to make a thing out of something that's not a thing than anything has ever tried before.
If we measured films by their Try Hard and ambition, Gods of Egypt would be well up there. Unfortunately for all involved, those two things don't make for a quality movie by themselves. Directed by Alex Proyas, his first movie in seven years, it's a green-screened dumpster fire of a movie that attempts to build a mythology out of ancient Egyptian gods, Clash of the Titans-style.
The problem comes, however, when the film tries to treat these characters as something we should already be familiar with and care about. It’s one thing to make some movie about Poseidon, Zeus, Hades and Hera, but it’s another to make one about Anat, Horus, Uthwin and Thoth (quick – which one of those is made up) and expect us to already have buy in. With its character posters (the most out of place since Armageddon made them so long ago and gave us a 40 foot tall visage of Steve Buscemi that I am still working on getting out of my nightmares), Gods of Egypt looks like nothing so much as an attempt to turn these historical gods into action figures and trading cards.
Now, it’s not like there’s anyone still out there still worshipping these notions to get upset about their portrayal, but it’s all vaguely unnerving in a “should we really be doing this” sense, especially when we have the very Danish Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and the very Scottish Gerard Butler (not even attempting to hide his accent) as two of the lead roles. Its tonal issue takes suspension of disbelief and takes it out back behind a dumpster and shoots it in the head. Of course, to be fair, even if they had gotten all Middle Eastern/African actors to portray the main roles, I wouldn’t be ready to call this a good idea based on what we’re being shown.
While some films have worn their artificiality well, embracing a sort of “CGI Our Town with battle scenes” aesthetic, like Sin City and 300, Gods of Egypt, seems to want us to believe in what they’re showing. Still, they're presenting it in a “this is all happening, guys” way despite being one of the first films that most obviously had no sets in ages, and with effects that seem to go out of their way not to impress. An extended “dive” through the an explosion in the trailers is so desperate to please that it becomes kind of sad, really.
With an insane $140 million budget, there’s precisely zero chance of this working out for Lionsgate, unless there is some sort of international fervor for ancient Egypt that I’m unaware of. Opening quite wide at over 3,000 venues, this should open to a dismal-for-its-budget $13 million.