Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chao... Read allMortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.
Oh, but it works because the film truly bonkers. Truly insane. Truly out of its mind.
Proyas, a gifted and visionary filmmaker, is renowned for having thought-provoking and striking imagery in all of his films, and this film is without exception. Where in any other film do you get to see goddesses horse-riding giant fire-breathing serpents? Or wagons carrying infinite amounts of gold dumping their load in a funnel-like tube ala dump trucks? Or for that matter, gods bleeding gold? Or Gerard butler riding gold- chromed giant beetles into battle? Or gods that have body parts that, when disfigured, instantly become detachable jewelry? Or...
Admittedlly the plot is indeed silly even by blockbuster Hollywood standards, however a lesser Proyas film is still more visually inventive than the usual Hollywood movie factory output, and that is always a plus. Whereas a film like "Pan" bludgeons us over the head with its disgusting cynicism and disrespect for the source material by portraying its titular hero as a clichéd messiah figure, Proyas directs with the exuberance of a kid in Disneyland - with Disneyland replaced with an Egyptian museum exhibit – eager at the chance to create his own action packed tale while still respecting the gods as, well, gods.
What is there to say about the plot, except that it has gods and it has Egypt? You get exactly what's on the tin. You get a chiseled hero in the form of Horus (Nikolaj Coaster-Waldau), his athletic and quippy comic sidekick (Brenton Thwaites) and beautiful love (Courtney Eaton), who set out to defeat Horus' evil uncle Set (Gerard Butler, simultaneously parodying his "300" persona while being supremely sinister).
The whole thing sounds very Greek. But rather than eschewing the silly tone and making it "Gladiator"-style dark and dreary ala the recent "Clash of the Titans" movies, Proyas and the actors let loose and have a ball with the material, never being too self aware while being silly enough to make for compelling viewing. Even rising star Chadwick Boseman (terrific in both "42" and "Get on Up"), as Thoth the god of knowledge, relishes in chewing the scenery with every moment, never afraid of being campy. Not bad.
Look, it's clear that the film is a B-grade Saturday night matinée film straight from the 1950s. Ever heard your grandparents told you about those? The ones where there's usually a double feature showcasing silly low budget sci-fi/horror/fantasy plots with handsome men and gorgeous gals, supremely cheesy one liners and having no purpose other than to put a goofy smile on your face from start to finish, almost guaranteeing a good time out? Well, this is one such movie, but with a blockbuster budget and the added pleasure of having Proyas wrapping the fun around with his wonderful thought-provoking visuals and production design, and going wild with this thing. Two set pieces involving a gigantic worm-like demon and the Egyptian afterlife are visual marvels, triumphs of set design and visual effects, evoking senses of awe and wonder like films from yesteryear and other gifted visionaries. For mainstream filmmakers, CGI is the cheat sheet. For Proyas, it's his toy box. This is eye candy on a spectacular scale, and audiences won't get short-changed.
Bear with me here, but if you were to replace the cast with genuine Egyptian actors, I think the film would be mired in even bigger controversies because it will definitely look more inaccurate and seemingly insulting than it supposedly already is. It's stupid, yes, but it's gloriously stupid and never succumbs to taking itself ever so seriously. Proyas sort of knew what he was doing here, and he didn't give a damn about what others thought. And that's the kind of filmmaker I admire the most.
- Feb 24, 2016