“Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.”
If you like so-bad-that-it’s-good then this is for you.
Writing a review of this film seems semi-futile as Mark Kermode did such a a good job with his (click here for his vlog post) but I’m going to give it a go. Mainly because although I agreed fully with everything Mark says in his review we have one difference, I bloody loved how ridiculous and brainless the film is. It’s the level of awful bomb movie that you don’t see very often, that ends up being hilarious by by taking its failed spectacle far too seriously. I genuinely think this has the potential to be a cult classic – turned into drinking games and quote-alongs, so unbelievable and propestrous that it has to be seen.
In an alternate version of Ancient Egypt the world is flat and ruled by Gods who live amongst humans. They also happen to be twice the size physically of the mere mortals and bleed gold not blood. On the day of the coronation, with Osris (Bryan Brown) abdicating and giving the throne to his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Osris is killed by his jealous brother Set (Gerard Butler). Set then strips Horus of his eyes, which contain all of his power, but stops himself from killing Horus as his nephew’s lover Hathor (Elodie Yung) offers to be his slave if Horus is spared. Instead Horus is exiled and Set becomes a tyrannical leader of Egypt. Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is a mortal thief who has little belief or faith in the Gods but when his girlfriend is killed, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), Bek makes a deal with Horus. If Bek helps Horus regain his eyesight and therefore power Horus will help bring Zaya back from the dead.
I don’t know where to begin with this one. There are so many things wrong with this film that somehow end up being so right. Literally from the opening credits, the title page, I snort-laughed. Somehow director Alex Proyas has managed to make even the title page pretentious. It then continues from there. We have a voice-over narrator (an often ill-used device resulting in cheesey-ness) who happens to be an older Bek (again the element of foresight in narration ends up being rather cloying) who explains things in a way that somehow manages to be condescending AND stupid. The script as a whole is so stupid that I feel that to be accurate I must refer to it using quotation marks – the ‘script’ and ‘story’ is so kitsch and pantomimic, full of pointless non-sequiturs that either go nowhere. This is pure B-movie territory with a big blockbuster budget ($140 million budget in case you were wondering).
Where that money went? Well I’m not quite sure. It’s certainly not on the special effects which are dire. Truly and utterly awful. Every scene is a green screen disaster. The decision to make the gods twice the height and size of the humans may have seemed novel during pre-production but in execution ends up being awfully brilliant. My personal favourite (another snort-laugh was emitted at this point) had to be when Horus is in the bath and the human women are helping him. It’s hard to describe, or to truly reflect the brilliance of the moment, but everything about the scene is uncanny-ily dreadful.
It could have been the cast. We’ve got GOT Danish heartthrob Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerald Butler and even Geoffrey Rush – who must have been on set for about a day to film his scenes then scarper off. I feel like I should give Coster-Waldau some credit for his performance, for the most part he tries admirably to deliver the dire dialogue and when he doesn’t he still seems to embrace the dross. Managing to say such lines as ‘I can understand killing for a throne, but this is madness!’, ‘I’m sorry that the corpses of my parents have inconvinced you.’ and ‘It’s lettuce!’ with a straight face and a desperate will to make them effective makes for a truly hilarious experience. His buddy partnership with Thwaites as Bek is memorable only for Coster-Waldau as Bek both as a character and Thwaites portraying him is dreadful. Bek is a total Mary/Gary Sue , utterly perfect at everything he tries to do. Except for speaking dialogue, he’s pretty awful for that. In fact the only things I wrote down in regards to his performance after seeing the film is ‘eyebrows’. There’s some serious eyebrow going on here.
Gerald Butler plays Gerald Butler. His performance stands out like a sore thumb as whilst everyone else speaks with this strange hyper-English accent he speaks in his Gerald Butler roar. It seems a dark day to be saying this but he does manage to out-act everyone he is on screen with. My favourite performance however was Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, providing us with a character who personifies the strange campness of the entire film. However, as a consequence, I fear I will end up taking his portrayal as Blank Panther a lot less seriously. The moment that really summed up just how bad this film was going to be was the appearance of Rufus Sewell, a man who can actually act but has recently spent his career in this type of Hollywood underworld cinema. Considering he is the in the film and providing the kind performance full of knowingness and campery that we’ve come to expect from him, it’s truly amazing that the film’s director seemed surprised at the film’s reception (click here for more).
To conclude I will finish with my top five lines of the film as I genuinely feel the level of absurdity the script reaches may be beyond words. It’s a shiny big disaster with weird oddball moments and brilliantly bonkers.The acting is lacklustre, the story mediocre but the film is impossible to resist. If only it were half an hour shorter (it’s 127 minutes long) then this would be a perfect awful movie.
5) Set: Behold the fate of those who stand in my way. I will bring them reckoning!
4) Horus: I don’t need any more worshippers. Tributors that rot and stink. Get out! Unless you’ve got wine…
3) Ra: When you stray from your past, you grow weak.
2) Horus: The dead don’t speak to the living
1) Ra: Normally when a bird lands on my beat I kill it, before it can shit.
Film enjoyment levels: