Gods of Egypt (2016)

Released: February 26, 2016. Directed by: Alex Proyas. Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler. Runtime: 2hr 7 min.

Big-budget films as bland as Gods of Egypt should have no business over=passing a two-hour run time, but somehow, it feels the need to do so.

After the Egyptian God of air Horus (Nikolas Coster-Waldau of TV’s Game of Thrones fame) is about to be crowned the new king of Egypt, Gerard Butler’s Set, the god of Darkness, comes into play.

He breaks up the party in such a fashion that he kills his own brother Osiris (Bryan Brown) and then fights Horus, takes over the throne and removes his eyes – the source of his all-seeing power. Wicked.

Skip ahead to the slaves working for Set and him killing any God that does not bow to him, in an attempt to take over all colonies and reach ultimate power.

The film itself follows Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a mortal thief who steals one of Horus’ eyes back so that Horus can see and can take back the throne, and his free his wholly believing gal Zaya (Courtney Eaton) from slavery.

Bek and Horus, sporting an eye patch for the majority, venture through the landscape in an attempt to get the throne back. And Set wants to do whatever he can to stop him.

It’s a very traditional and a predictable storyline that’s not compelling. It’s quite boring, and the story is so tedious it becomes exhausting by the hour-mark. We basically know how it’s going to end and it’s not a thrilling ride to begin with.

The characters themselves are dull. There’s not enough depth for Bek to particularly root for him, and Thwaites just puts in a performance that never really goes anywhere in terms of emotion. Gerard Butler is unlikable here so that’s good for the character and he is convincing in that sense.

But he’s not great as a bad guy because he’s better as a bad-ass action hero; and just because he donned sandals and fought for Sparta in 300, doesn’t mean he should be cast in so many of these flicks.

He’s also a bit of a ridiculous caricature of an Egyptian ruler. He never really uses his army at least against Horus, and he flies around on huge beetles. It’s hard to take him seriously when he’s doing things like that.

Coster-Waldau doesn’t have enough presence to head the film well as a secondary hero. He really does need the presence since these Gods are supposed to be about nine feet tall and the camera angles and forced perspective sell the height, making humans look like Hobbits in this world.

Gods of Egypt

Gerard Butler as Set in Gods of Egypt. (Source)

They reach heights of about twelve feet when they turn into a “battle beast” form, so they feel like Power Rangers in that way, forming into something just to fight.

But Horus is basically a total jerk. When Bek brings him his eyes, he tries to kill him because he doesn’t want to bargain for his eyes. When he does get his eye, he starts to choke him. He comes off as unlikable and just ungrateful at times.

Courtney Eaton and Elodie Yung deliver okay performances in their respective roles, Yung as Hathor, the goddess of love.

Chadwick Boseman is okay as the god of wisdom Thoth. There are bizarrely multiple Thoth’s in a scene which gets a bit distracting. Also bizarre is how the film gives an R-rating a dodge because – even though a god tears out another’s eyes – it managed to show a lot of blood. But they made that work by having the gods spill golden blood, which is stupid in itself.

In terms of the films “whitewashing,” casting the majority of Egyptian characters as white people, the film should have learned from the criticisms Exodus: Gods and Kings faced. But Proyas didn’t learn a thing, and the joke’s on him because the film is going to have to make all of its money back in foreign markets.

The action set pieces are alright but hectic editing distracts, and there’s not imagination on display from director Alex Proyas. The dude is given a bad name for his shitty movies – but I liked I, Robot. But that one had an interesting tale to tell.

The visuals here are ugly, and something that belongs in a video game and not in  film with a huge budget. It’s filmed in a studio and the backgrounds rendered don’t have a lot detail and look even worse in 3-D. There’s a henchman of Set that looks like a mix between the villains from Predators and Jar Jar Binks. And their Anubis is downright hideously rendered.

There are also huge snakes that look awful. It’s just not a pretty film to look at – and if it has such a boring story, the visual effects need to redeem it. But they’re equally as bad – and I’m baffled as to where the $140 million dollar budget went.

Score: 3o/100

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White House Down (2013)

White House DownRelease Date: June 28, 2013. Director: Roland Emmerich. Stars: Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Runtime: 131 min.

Apparently infiltrating the White House is so easy, everyone’s doing it! (And they just finished re-building it, too!) All you have to do is rally up a bunch of people who are angry at the government, spend a day planning, synchronize your watches, and go to town. But be careful, there’s going to be a highly-decorated police officer of some kind standing in your way.

John Cale (Channing Tatum) is a Capitol police officer on tour of the White House with his daughter Emily (Joey King). He is also interviewing for a spot on the Secret Service, protecting President Sawyer (Jamie Foxx). On that very day, because the President issued an international Peace Treaty, a paramilitary group invades the White House; now John must save his daughter, the President, and the country.

Whether it be Channing Tatum vs. a 25-person paramilitary group or Gerard Butler vs. North Korea’s entire 300 person army, both action guys are forces to be reckoned with. “Olympus Has Fallen” had to face comparisons to “Die Hard” back in March, so compared to this, it is living on easy street. Now, this has to face comparisons to both “Die Hard” and “Olympus.” Will it stand strong through all of it? Probably not.

“White House Down” is the better movie in some ways – but “Olympus” has the benefit of being released first. The former is superior to the latter in the CGI-effects department, the higher-profile director, and the cast. Even against the likes of Gerard Butler, Morgan Freeman, Aaron Eckhart and Melissa Leo; once you have Tatum, Foxx and Maggie Gyllenhaal and then add the extra oomph of James Woods, Richard Jenkins and Jason Clarke; there’s no competition. But “Olympus” wins in many other aspects.

“Olympus” embraces its over-the-top brutality and the insane premise of a terrorist group taking down the most heavily protected house on Earth in a matter of minutes. That movie is a lot of fun. This is only mildly fun. It has fun with the premise, but its aspirations of becoming a great buddy action comedy feel forced. This feels too serious at times, which doesn’t work to the film’s benefit with so many frustrating “Okay, that’ll never happen!” moments. Granted, this premise will never happen – but if it does ever happen, we should all hope that the actual John McClane is taking a tour of the White House that day.

The antagonists’ motives are explained well for the most part. Cale’s motivations to stay at the White House to save his daughter are evident as well, even if those motivations are cookie-cutter. But that isn’t bad for this type of movie, because audiences are there for the action. There just isn’t enough of it.

The build-up takes too long, and this type of movie needs to have tension building that doesn’t take forever. There’s a lot of drama there, and we just want the action. And the bits of humour. Thankfully, there’s quite a lot of that, too. One of the members of the paramilitary group (the amusing hacker, Jimmi Simpson) has a lot of charisma, so he is the best antagonist in the movie – even better than the boss man (who I won’t reveal, even if (s)he’ll be blatantly obvious). There’s a prominent buddy comedy aspect, and even if the jokes aren’t so memorable, they provide big laughs at the time.

“White House Down” is familiar and forgettable, but it’s not a horrible way to pass 131 minutes. It just doesn’t bring enough to the table to be noteworthy. Since it’s so familiar, there are few surprises hiding away, and the antagonists are obvious from the get go. Apparently, if you’ve seen one Die Hard in the White House movie; you’ve seen them all.

Score: 58/100

Olympus Has Fallen (2013)

Olympus Has FallenRelease Date: March 22, 2013Director: Antoine FuquaStars: Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan FreemanRuntime: 120 min.

Die Hard is one of the very best action movies ever made. It’s well-made, has a very simplistic plot, and it’s one hell of a fun movie. It’s also an essential viewing for any guy. It has inspired many fun, action movies; most recently Olympus Has Fallen.

Mike Banning is a disgraced former Presidential guard who finds himself trapped inside the White House in the wake of a terrorist attack. He must use his knowledge to work with national security and rescue the President from his kidnappers.

As far as action movies inspired by Die Hard, this is memorable. Though, I’m not sure how vibrantly it will stand out in any of these cast members’ filmographies (especially Freeman’s and Eckhart’s). This is a decent movie for Antoine Fuqua, because his style fits the movie very well. Rick Yune is forgettable as the terrorist mastermind behind it all, mostly because he sports a look of anger the whole time. He’s ruthless and he looks like the smartest guy in the room, but aren’t all terrorists? Personality would have helped the guy. When he takes off his glasses, you know shit’s about to hit the fan.

Aaron Eckhart makes a fine President. Gerard Butler rocks his role, but he ain’t Bruce Willis. At least he doesn’t crack-wise when he’s about to snap someone’s neck, or have a catch phrase, like “Boo-ya, b*tch!” It’s not like this mirrors Die Hard in every possible way. Butler uses a lot of guns, but he is also great with hand-to-hand combat and his knife. There are many kills where he stabs the guy in the brain or the bottom of the neck. It’s great to see Butler as a complete bad-ass again. It’s he against many North Koreans, about three hundred, I’d say. So practically the entire North Korean army. (To any readers from North Korea: Relax, don’t be offended. It’s a joke. Hardy-har-har.)

This is an entertaining movie, albeit brutal. The only truly boring part of the movie is the first fifteen minutes or so, but it heats up fairly quickly. Also, some might not find the entertainment in a helicopter’s machine gun shooting at civilians on the streets of Washington. I didn’t dig that part so much, but this is usually awesome and there’s lots and lots of blood. It feels long, but a movie like this cannot be rushed. The poor visuals make it look like a video game, because, really, it’s a movie that would make a very fun video game. This is Die Hard meets The Raid: Redemption.

It’s pretty awesome. If you want a movie with great characterization, plot development, a generally original plot, and memorable jokes, look elsewhere. If you seek a movie that has a simple and ridiculous (yet awesome) plot, brainless action, clever (but forgettable) one-liners, a lot of blood, an enormous body count, tons of bullets, and a lot of F-bombs and real bombs; then this shouldn’t disappoint.

Score70/100

Movie 43 (2013)

Movie 43Movie 43

Release Date: January 25, 2013

Directors: Elizabeth Banks, Steven Brill, Peter Farrelly (and 10 others)

Stars: Liev Schreiber, Emma, Stone, Richard Gere

Runtime: 94 min

I just watched a version online, and I believe it was the version released in the U.K.; it’s an alternate plot to the U.S. version that doesn’t have Dennis Quaid pitching crazy ideas to a studio. I was not going to spend money on this.

Movie 43 is a haphazardly edited sketch comedy that stars as many A-list actors (including Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Kate Bosworth, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Justin Long, Kristen Bell, and Elizabeth Banks, to name a few) as the filmmakers could convince that this movie would be lots of fun to make. Charles Wessler achieves his vision: A satire that brings up common issues in the most offensive of ways, and it is the most outrageous comedy ever made.

But it is also one awful movie. If only his passion project (an idea that he’s had for over a decade) wasn’t so silly. Saturday Night Live has okay sketches, good sketches and those rare great sketches. This, however, has awful sketches, bad sketches, and just tolerable, but kind-of funny sketches. Even if you do laugh at some points, it doesn’t stop this from being one bad, bad film. This is still sort-of imaginative and quite original, and unlike anything you’ve seen at the movie theatre before. It’s one of those times where too many cooks in the kitchen (13 directors, a huge cast, 30 writers) really spoils the broth. Apparently, it takes thirteen directors, 102 credited cast members and thirty writers to make a really bad film.

The plot follows three adolescent boys who are searching the depths of the internet for Movie 43, the world’s most banned feature. The two older teens who tell a younger brother, the incredibly irritating Baxter who looks like he’s really ten years old, about Movie 43 are really just making it up because they want some April Fool’s revenge. Little do they know is that the video could very well end the world, somehow.

That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, nor is it explained. It’s completely random and idiotic. This backstory manages to be worse than some of the comedy sketches, to a point where you might actually want to see another bad sketch. This is because the actors in the background story have little to no charisma, and they’re increasingly annoying and bland.

While the idea of sketch comedies in movies is fairly new, this is still trash. The plot is almost as disorganized as every spoof movie out there. If this is compared to Scary Movie 5, this might as well be an Oscar contender. This is definitely not for the easily offended. The humour is thoroughly crude, offensive, absurd, violent, vulgar, inane, insane, sophomoric and rarely funny; but it’s ironic that I’ve seen a lot more nudity in less offensive films. So… Humour that will offend almost the entire world is okay, but extreme nudity is off the table? Hmm.

Out of the movie’s thirteen comedy sketches, there are thirteen stupid and fairly offensive ones. The one with Terrence Howard is hardly funny at all. The sketch showing that people get much too angry with machines and it upsets the kids inside the machines is incredibly stupid, but it’s creative. There are arguably five tolerable ones, but there are none that provide consistent laughs. The ‘Super Hero Dating’ segment with Jason Sudeikis and Justin Long has a few solid jokes, and it’s an imaginative look into the culture of super hero impersonators. It’s the movie’s strongest segment (even if it’s hardly great). The ‘Happy Birthday’ segment with Seann William Scott and Johnny Knoxville also has some good laughs (albeit forgettable), but it is one of the movie’s more violent and vulgar segments. The ‘Truth or Dare’ segment starring Stephen Merchant and Halle Berry is funny in the beginning, but it progressively gets worse until it falls on its face. Suffice to say, the ‘Happy Birthday’ and ‘Super Hero Dating’ sketches are my favourite, and they are somewhat entertaining.

SPOILERS FOLLOW IN THIS FUNNY PARAGRAPH, I briefly describe the film’s worst three sketches. It seems as if the movie is designed to have the worst three sketches at the beginning of the film. The first sketch has Hugh Jackman sporting a pair of testicles under his chin and it is unfunny and unwatchable. It’s a one-joke sketch where it seems as if Kate Winslet’s character is the only one to notice the prominent nuts. Though, it does show that society cannot help but judge someone for the way they look. The second sketch features Liev Schreiber and Naomi Watts homeschooling their child and mercilessly bullying him to a point where he will definitely need to be institutionalized. The third sketch features Anna Farris requesting Chris Pratt to poop on her (you read that right) because it’s apparently a big step in a relationship. Apparently, it’s okay to poop on women, but it’s frowned upon to sh*t on them. Because if you shit on a gal, it’s deemed very offensive. (Read the next part very sarcastically.) Wow. This is the world of my dreams. I’ve always wanted to live in a world where the norm is to poop on women and have a pair of testicles dangling under my chin. Oh, someone, take me there! I can’t take this society where women bitch about me even farting in their general direction! END OF SPOILERS.

Alas, this movie is awful. (But, I am able to use the word ‘alas’ in one of my reviews.) I’ve seen much worse, but it’s really, really, really, stupid. The laughs are forgettable; but it’s the disturbing sketches that are unforgettable. Much to my dismay, this stuff kind-of just sticks with you… Forever.

30/100

Chasing Mavericks (2012)

Chasing Mavericks 

Release Date: October 26, 2012

Directors: Michael Apted, Curtis Hanson

Stars: Jonny Weston, Gerard Butler, Elisabeth Shue

Runtime: 120 min

Tagline: Legends Start Somewhere

Chasing Mavericks brings the audience knowledge of the life story of Jay Moriarity. The year is 1994, and the location is Santa Cruz, California. 15-year old Jay Moriarity has always loved surfing, and has idolized local legend Frosty Hesson since childhood. When Jay hitches a ride on the roof of Frosty’s van, he finds out that the myth of the Mavericks surf break, one of the biggest waves on Earth, is very real. He gets it in his aspiring stubborn head that he must ride this wave, and Frosty offers to teach him to survive it.

A lot of the content in C.M., is material that you’ve probably seen about ten times before, and the story feels simply between average and a bit above average. It’s just that unfortunately average true underdog story, who just wants to beat the odds and come out a winner, with just a little determination and heart. Despite its average story , it still does offer an enjoyable experience and a story that someone could easily like a lot, or even love.

The true story is pretty nice, and it’s all about following one’s dreams and just aspire to become something, or some such bogus bullsh*t. If you do know Jay’s story and everything before you see it, it isn’t necesssary to check this one out. Unless you’re really curious, but if you know beforehand, it may not be as enjoyable. It also might be a rewarding experience for you if you went in knowing as little about his story as possible, and go in without many expectations at all. It’s just some really nice scenery and a fairly average tale.

Jay knows what it is like to be independent, as he has grown up (for the most part) without his father, and his mother works a lot. He finds a fatherly figure within Frosty, and it really is nice to watch their relationship grow over the course of the feature. Jay also learns great lessons of how to observe, and lessons of fear from Frosty. The chemistry created between the two is great. Also, the chemistry created between Jay and Kim is too, great. At times, the relationship between Jay and his best friend Blond, feels, oddly enough, awkward.

The beginning with Jay younger and Kim younger and Frosty younger, almost makes it feel like a whole different plot. That goes on for about fifteen minutes, but then it jumps ahead seven years to 1994, where the majority of the film is set. I didn’t like how that was done.

The acting is good, and the main performers bring good chops to the table. I haven’t seen a lot of Jonny Weston or Leven Rambin. Well, I’ve seen Rambin in her small role in The Hunger Games, but that’s about it. There is also some incredible scenery and fine cinematography offered.

As far as surfing films go, this one was great. I’ve never been a huge fan of surfing, but I did enjoy this more than Soul Surfer. In that one, they really just chewed (really feasted) the scenery. Speaking of S.S., the success of that probably inspired Fox to make a surfing flick, for young Moriarity, for the 2012 Fall season.

The great thing about Jay and Frosty’s relationship is that it doesn’t feel like a teacher-student relationship, but a true friendship.
The climactic surf sequence is fairly quickly paced, but others just drag on; and at times the relationships that build on the land are greater than those draining surf sequences.

SMALL SPOILER ALERT.

This isn’t a large spoiler because it doesn’t spoil a key element of the film, so read with much risk.

Somehow, the fact that the Mavericks is real is leaked, and citizens around the area come, right during the final surf sequence when Jay wants to ride the huge wave that’s coming. Some watch, and some amateur surfers want to try out the waves. Even some boats go out. For me, I hate how the filmmakers execute this. It really takes a number on my attention, because Jay is supposed to be the focal point, but at times I’m really distracted by all those boats in the water. It’s mostly bothersome to me because the filmmakers really don’t have to follow the story to the letter. They should have just left out the boats, then I’d be content.

END OF SMALL SPOILER ALERT.

This is the real Jay Moriarity.

There isn’t a lot of humour offered, but the few jokes are pretty funny. There’s some poignancy here and there, but most of it can be pretty inspiring.

Gerard Butler (he also is Executive Producer), Jonny Weston, Elisabeth Shue, Abigail Spencer, Leven Rambin, Devin Crittenden and Taylor Handley star.

Sometimes, Chasing Mavericks feels just a bit too average. There’s some nice humour, cinematography, and great scenery. Sometimes some scenes drag on, but the better scenes certainly outweigh those poor ones. It’s worth checking out if you want to check out a nice inspirational story, but that’s about the only big thing that makes C.M. stand out so vibrantly.

70/100