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Review: The Gods Must Be Silly in ‘Gods of Egypt’

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During a season of movies that are so painfully awful, Gods of Egypt comes as a refreshing movie…in that it was SO bad that it was good.

With its abundance of cheap computer graphics, silly dialogue and a notable cast, there’s a self-aware nature that make this farce deliciously goofy. It’s almost goofy enough to recommend, if only it weren’t so long and drawn out.

Gods of Egypt Cast

“Gods of Egypt” cast of all-stars.

Surprisingly, the plot sticks fairly close to the mythology of Egyptian gods. As the gods dwell among humans, there’s the drama of grand figures fighting for loyalty and power. King Osiris (Bryan Brown) hands down his throne to his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) which angers Set (Gerard Butler). Set kills Osiris, rips out Horus’ eyes and assumes the throne to build gargantuan monuments. Set’s new reign of slavery and tougher deals for the salvation leads to the plucky slave Bek (Brenton Thwaites) seeking out Horus’ eyes so that he can defeat Set. But with his wife doomed to the afterlife in his quest, Bek has more on his plate as he attempts to assert himself around gods that look down on him in more ways than one.

Gods of Egypt Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Danish actor Nikolaj Coster Waldau as hulking Egyptian Horus.

As you might expect from such a cast, the gods and many of the Egyptians appear as muscular white guys struggling to hold back their various European accents. There are certain parallels to the white-washing of Hollywood roles in 2014’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. But unlike Exodus, Gods of Egypt doesn’t seem to take its own sword-and-sandal vision seriously.

In addressing the racial issue of casting, director Alex Proyas said that it was a subject of issue, but not for a movie such as this. I sort of agree with him in that it doesn’t seem to be worth getting worked up over a movie where Coster-Waldau turns into a metallic bird and a hulking CGI sphinx utters, “Oh bother.”

There’s an admirable sense of epic filmmaking with B-movie sensibilities. For trying to remain close to the source material, the script is never shy to inject as much humor as it can into the dialogue. Set makes jokes about his monuments not being big enough, Horus marches around as a gentle giant of limited social skills with mortals and Bek keeps on cracking about how much it sucks to live with gods. I can almost sense the franchise-building tone that Lionsgate was shooting towards.

Gods of Egypt Nikolaj Coster-Waldau

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau becomes a not-so-graceful CGI bird.

The computer graphics are rather cheap considering the aim of Proyas’ grand vision. Cities are crowded with civilians, giant snakes slither across vast dunes and Ra has nightly cosmic battles. There are some decent effects with trick photography and digital effects to make the gods appear larger than mortals. It’s certainly a ridiculous sight in a few scenes, but rarely does it look like a cheap effect.

For a $140 million budget, there should at least be a handful of scenes that look at least a little impressive. The battles are not too shabby for all the visual flair shoved into the frame, but, wow, do they outstay their welcome with the abundance of CGI. By the time I reached the grand finale of magic and swords, I was already exhausted with its spectacle.

Through all its ridiculous writing and clumsy smatterings of CGI, Gods of Egypt is the type of bad movie that’s more entertaining than it should be. The tenacity and earnest of its filmmaking contains a certain charm you just don’t see too often in this day and age. If it only had a bit more creativity in its visuals and had trimmed some of the fat from its two-hour running time, this could possibly have been the next franchise for Lionsgate to bank on. In its current form, however, it’s one heck of a bad movie destined for a night of beers and laughing.

[author title=”About The Author” image=”http://popstermedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/mark_mcpherson-300×221-150×150.jpg”]Movie nut Mark McPherson has been all about movies since working at a video store in his youth. His talents range from video editing to animation to web development, but movies have always been his passion to write about.[/author]


Box Office

“Glass” Glows Amid Dim Weekend

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The weekend of the Super Bowl found the box office low about as expected with not a single film making over $10 million for the weekend. As such, there were very few surprises with which films ended up where. Just as with last week, Glass is at #1 for its third weekend, coming in with $9.5 million, shaping up to be another financially successful film from M. Night, though it’ll start dropping as we head into February. Just behind it is the dramedy The Upside, pulling up close with $8.8 million as it expanded into a few more theaters for the weekend.

The premiere for the weekend, Miss Bala, a cartel thriller, only debuted at #3 with a box office debut of $6.7 million. Not a very strong opening but it did manage to get just above the December box office hang-on superhero movies of Aquaman and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, still in the top 5. Green Book, coming up on awards season, soared higher in the box office upon expansion and The Kid Who Would Be King, unfortunately, won’t be seeing much of an audience going into February.

Debuting in a very limited engagement is Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old, a WWI documentary with restored footage. The film had originally opened the last week of December in a handful of theaters but thankfully expanded into more theaters where it was strong enough to make it to #10.

Glass ($9,535,000)
The Upside ($8,850,000)
Miss Bala ($6,700,000)
Aquaman ($4,785,000)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($4,410,000)
Green Book ($4,317,000)
The Kid Who Would Be King ($4,200,000)
A Dog’s Way Home ($3,510,000)
Escape Room ($2,900,000)
They Shall Not Grow Old ($2,405,000)

Next weekend is all about the LEGO. LEGO Movie 2, the animated sequel, will be hitting over 4,000 theaters. Also opening will be the thriller Cold Pursuit in 2,500 theaters, the killer-kid horror The Prodigy opening in 2,500 theaters, and the gender comedy What Men Want in 2,800 theaters.


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“Glass” Holds Firm, “King” and “Serenity” Sink

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M. Night’s Glass already had a lot of hype for being the most anticipated movie of January and the popularity is proving it. Now in its second weekend, the thriller has made another $19 million and has shown itself to be a box office success even in the colder months of January where it’s not exactly pulling in the largest of box office numbers. Not exactly a twist from a director known for twists.

The premieres for the weekend didn’t fare well at all. The Kid Who Would Be King, Joe Cornish’s kid-oriented fantasy of modern knights and demons, debuted only at #4 with a weekend gross of $7.2 million, lagging not far behind Aquaman which made $7.3 million. It seems strange that family entertainment wouldn’t be a bigger hit in a month with little of that. But then again, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is still in theaters and still doing well at #5, proving to have the legs to stick around into February as it continues to win awards for being a groundbreaking animated film.

Also debuting lower is Serenity, a new drama by Steven Knight. This one doesn’t seem as surprising given both the lack of promotion for the picture and the abysmally negative critic reviews, declaring the film as an early front-runner for the worst of the year. The movie only came in at #8 for the weekend with a gross of $4.8 million.

Worth noting is that Dragon Ball Super: Broly is still hanging in the top 10, latching onto the #10 spot with a gross of $3.6 million. Though not the biggest box office compared to its competition, it’s a big success for FUNimation pushing anime into theaters given they’ve yet to have as big of a release as this one and for such a long time. Most anime they release in theaters are only present for a weekend if that and tend not to crack the top 10 as often. Dragon Ball Super has become the exception and may lead to more anime screenings to larger theater counts in the future.

See the full top 10 for the weekend below:
Glass ($19,049,000)
The Upside ($12,240,000)
Aquaman ($7,350,000)
The Kid Who Would Be King ($7,250,000)
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse ($6,150,000)
Green Book ($5,413,000)
A Dog’s Way Home ($5,225,000)
Serenity ($4,800,000)
Escape Room ($4,275,000)
Dragon Ball Super: Broly ($3,600,000)


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Review: “Alita: Battle Angel” Fights Faithful, Dark, Fun

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When it comes to films based on Japanese anime and manga, they have a record far more stumbling than that of video game movies. These types of movies have been plagued with everything from confused direction (Dragonball Evolution) to cheap translations (Fist of the North Star) to awkward whitewashing (Ghost in the Shell). But Alita: Battle Angel may just be the first film to break that mold, at least from a translation point.

One would hope that the screenplay writer James Cameron would put some dedication into this project he had been talking about making happen for nearly two decades. Surprisingly, he matches the source material well. The world is perfectly defined with a cyberpunk dystopia of the far future, the elites residing in a metropolis of the sky while the poor cyborgs struggle on the surface world of garbage. Also present is the grim atmosphere which I questioned if Cameron would delve into, given that the original story was a depressing one of pathos, amputation, decapitation, bifurcation, and the murdering of a dog.

Keean Johnson (left) and Rosa Salazar (center) in Twentieth Century Fox’s ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

The film has all of this in telling the story of Alita (Rosa Salazar), a mysterious teenage cyborg found with very little of her body in a heap of dumped robot parts. Determined to rebuild her and give her a new life as a teenage girl is Doctor Ido (Christoph Waltz), committed to being a charity of a cybernetics doctor when so few can afford so much in artificial limbs they need. Alita is a kind girl, made all the more sweet with those artificially giant eyes added digitally. While this may really give her the look of an uncanny valley creation in hopes of replicating that anime style, it works well in defining Alita as both an artificial being and fitting in with the odd nature of cyborg society.

There’s a progressive build of Alita discovering both the world around her and uncovering her cloudy past. She takes as much of an interest in the fast-paced violent sport of Motorball as she does the scrappy young Hugo (Keean Johnson), potential boyfriend material. But she’ll soon come to learn that not everybody is who they appear to be, as both Hugo and Ido have secrets they haven’t revealed as the web of corruption in the city runs deep. All of it relates back to the giant floating paradise in the clouds that everybody shoots for, including the smug gangster leader Vector (Mahershala Ali) who acts as a puppet for those above, sometimes literally. Everyone wants to make it to the top and they’re willing to break any rule to get there.

Rosa Salazar (Alita) and Keean Johnson (Hugo) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

Of course, it’s no shock that Alita is the girl to shake things up and fight the system. This is where director Robert Rodriguez takes the helm of this project and gives it his own flavor of slick and violent action. He really pushes that PG-13 rating to the limit of how much you can get away with in dicing up cyborgs, staging intimidating barroom brawls and vicious battles on a giant racetrack. Even for a director known for plenty of violence in his films, Rodriguez still manages to cram in a number of ouch-worthy moments where characters are sliced in half or have their faces chopped at an angle. Also present is Rodriguez’s trademark humor that manages to fit in snugly amid the more tragic parts of this cyberpunk tale.

Alita still has a few kinks in the armor with some clunky bits of dialogue and emotions that run a little flat here and there. But I must admit I was surprised with how well this film holds together for being so ambitious in pursuing such a story, sticking to its essentials while still giving off a vibe all its own. I recall far back as being a teenager when hearing about Cameron’s plan to adopt the original manga into a live-action movie and doubting it would ever see the light of day, especially with his crowded schedule and the lacking adaptations over the years. But, lo and behold, I’m astounded to not only see the movie made but that it’s also well-made and true to its roots. A solid picture for fans of the manga/anime and a pleasing cyberpunk tale for newcomers of a teenage cyborg kicking metallic butts.

Rosa Salazar stars as Alita in Twentieth Century Fox’s ALITA: BATTLE ANGEL. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.


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