Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gods of Egypt

   It always strikes me funny that movies like this (i.e. big, historically inaccurate, blockbuster, action movies) get so much flak. People complained about Sam Worthington's haircut in the Clash of the Titans remake... of all things. In the midst of a movie that doesn't give one single crap about logic or the laws of physics, people decide to complain about a haircut. That's the nature of the complaints behind Gods of Egypt. This movie is one that you shouldn't engage on any logical level. It's like the cover of a heavy metal album, or a flashy video game cutscene. On those merits, Gods of Egypt is the best kind of over-the-top, big, dumb, fun.

   There are literally people who somehow thought that this movie was going to be or should have been logical and historically accurate. There was even a whitewashing argument, about how all the actors in the movie are white- when Egyptians were practically black in real life. Trust me, this is Egypt in name only. Sure, some more diversity would've been nice- but not for the sake of historical accuracy, but just for the sake of variety. This isn't even the planet Earth as we know it! It's literally flat in the movie! It's a giant disc, hovering in space. So please, complain more about historical accuracy. It just makes you look like a fool.

   I don't remember history involving shapeshifting gods, or assassins who ride giant fire breathing cobras across the desert. That's mythology. And, while this movie is also mythologically inaccurate, who cares? Modern mythology is essentially superheroes and comic books, and those are always reinventing, reinterpreting, and rebooting characters, storylines and entire universes. So, come on. Be fair. Lets engage Gods of Egypt on it's own terms. If you're going to compare it to anything, compare it to movies like The Sword and the Sorcerer. A movie that has a cult following revolving solely around a three-bladed sword in the movie, and it's host of cool special effects.

   Why should we judge Gods of Egypt any more harshly? It's like a Sinbad movie, or a Hercules movie. It's full of ridiculous setpieces and eye-numbing special effects. The root of the dislike for this movie is simply the vitriolic downside of rampant nostalgia and the campaign against CGI blockbusters. Gods of Egypt was never marketed as anything more than a visually stunning and mindless adventure flick. It's full of two dimensional characters, and three dimensional computer effects. And, you know what? That's perfect for a movie like this. Yes, there is room for a genre flick to break that mold and be intellectually engaging, genuinely emotional, and carry the heft of an Oscar worthy script...

   But not every movie has to. That's just a fact. It is possible, and even acceptable to allow yourself to be entertained by movies like this. The story is surprisingly coherent from scene to scene, and it doesn't outright insult the audience's intelligence, only their delicate and meticulously cultured taste- apparently. The movie never commits the cardinal sin of being boring. It's flashy and colorful, and full of big exciting action scenes. Sure, things have little to no weight, and the laws of physics are more like ignored guidelines, but again! THE WORLD IS FLAT IN THIS MOVIE. This is a fairytale on steroids. It's the fantasy section of deviantART exploded onto the silver screen. It's old school, swashbuckling adventure, with all the trappings of a modern action flick.

   This isn't a movie about character development, though several characters do have nice and tidy arcs to follow, it's about designs, and effects. Flashiness and shiny stuff. Lasers and suits of armor. It's not just style over substance, it's charisma over substance. Gerard Butler is essentially playing Evil-Leonidas, channelling every bit of his "This is Sparta!" gusto into several of his scenes. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones fame, is playing a more family friendly version of Jaime Lannister. Geoffrey Rush plays the sun god Ra! Come on people, this is genuinely fun. This isn't "so-bad-it's-good" this is just fun. I was never laughing at the movie, only along with it when necessary.

   There's a couple running jokes that are funny and witty, and I enjoyed them as I enjoyed all the flashy spectacle. I was a five year old kid again while watching this movie, and I think more people should tap into that childlike sense of acceptance and wide-eyed wonder whenever they're watching a movie that's so clearly trying to evoke that. There's no reason to be hard and critical. A huge factor in why movies like this get railed on is that people are under the impression that older special effects blockbusters used to be any better. The acting, the writing, the rampant disregard for "historical accuracy"- it's just like an old Sinbad movie. Is it really so bad that we don't use claymation anymore?

   Gods of Egypt is fun and carefree. A reckless and silly movie that looks like everyone in it was having a blast. Why shouldn't we be able to as well?

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