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Gods of Egypt: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Gods of Egypt (2016) movie poster Gods of Egypt

Theatrical Release: February 26, 2016 / Running Time: 127 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Alex Proyas / Writers: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless

Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Horus), Brenton Thwaites (Bek), Chadwick Boseman (Thoth), Elodie Yung (Hathor), Courtney Eaton (Zaya), Gerard Butler (Set), Geoffrey Rush (Ra), Bryan Brown (Osiris), Rufus Sewell (Urshu)

Buy Gods of Egypt: Blu-ray 3D Combo Steelbook only at Best Buy
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Some bombs take Hollywood by surprise. They fall short of the critical marks and box office numbers of their most obvious references for comparison, be it past work of the creators or like-minded efforts in the genre.
Other bombs you can see coming miles away. Gods of Egypt certainly belongs to the latter class. This Summit Entertainment sword and sandal epic cost a staggering $140 million to produce and grossed just $31 million in North America, where it was released in late February. Foreign markets were more receptive, contributing $111 M to the bottom line. But you don't need creative accounting to indicate that this movie is far from generating profit.

How could anyone expect otherwise? Here was a tale of ancient Egyptian deities starring Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, actors no one is paying to see on the big screen with any regularity and certainly not in 2016. Director Alex Proyas was coming off two hits in Will Smith's I, Robot (2004) and Nicolas Cage's Knowing (2009), but those were far from recent and their success despite mixed reviews would not be easily attributed to Proyas' unrecognizable direction.

The film is set in an ancient Egypt where gods and men live together. The gods are kind of like superheroes or Transformers. They're much taller and stronger than mortals. They also have the ability to transform into metallic animal form. Egypt is divided under the rule of two divine brothers, the sons of the almighty Ra (Geoffrey Rush). Osiris (Bryan Brown) is the beloved king. His brother Set (Butler) has been hardened by the desert where he rules. All of Egypt gathers for the film's opening coronation, in which Osiris is to pass his crown to his son Horus (Coster-Waldau).

No stranger to visual effects-laden sword and sandal epics, Gerard Butler plays Set, whose violent actions at Horus' coronation drive the plot of "Gods of Egypt."

Arriving at the scene with fanfare is Set, his presence not entirely expected. He challenges Osiris to a fight, then kills him, rips the perfect eyes of Horus out of their sockets, and usurps the throne.

Our point of entry is the young mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites), who is in love with Zaya (Courtney Eaton) and does romantic things like steal dresses for her. Bek makes a daring attempt to retrieve one of Horus' stolen eyes. When Set's Master Builder (Rufus Sewell), who has been building an impossibly tall monument for the new king, hits Zaya with a fatal arrow, her bereft lover begs Horus to bring her back from death. Reluctantly, Horus agrees to do what he can, claiming there is some time before Zaya is forever resigned to the afterlife without her man.

That sets up an episodic heroes' journey for Horus and Bek, as they face obstacles to obtaining their respective goals of reclaiming the throne and resurrecting their love.

For most of the film, would-be king Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has one eye and a mortal sidekick (Brenton Thwaites).

I couldn't find a single redeeming value to Gods of Egypt. The project seems doomed from square one and never comes close to escaping that feeling. You can lament the casting, as some did, of European actors to play Egyptian gods.
At the same time, there hasn't been a world-renowned Egyptian movie star since Omar Sharif and although he was alive during production, he was about twice as old as the lead actors cast. Ridley Scott heard the same complaints on his 2014 Moses movie Exodus: Gods and Kings. I can't imagine this Gods would have been any better or less of a bomb with a more ethnically authentic cast.

The film strikes me as such an obvious misuse of funds. You'd think if you're spending $140 million on a movie before marketing, you'd at least want to make a good movie that people will see. That's the way to recoup that money as an investment. But Gods is devoid of appeal and full of bad ideas. There's so much wrong here you almost don't even feel a need to identify and dissect it. I will say that at times the visual effects are lacking, despite it being clear that a lot was spent on them (VFX make up the vast majority of every frame). While I would never recommend a movie on the bases of good action and effects alone, it seems like the audience being courted here might but is not given reason to. No one can recommend the film on the bases of story, characters, or acting.

No one in the principal cast makes a convincing argument for getting better work. The only one whose career seems unharmed by this is Chadwick Boseman, who plays a multitude of wisdom god Thoths, recruited to solve a sphinx's riddle. This might have been the kind of job he might have had to settle for following his breakout biopics if he hadn't landed the role of Black Panther and hitched a ride on the Marvel money train. Australia's Thwaites looks and acts enough like a young Orlando Bloom to justify his casting as Will Turner's son in the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean sequel no one seems to want. Denmark's Coster-Waldau, who has been flirting with recognizability for a while and takes top billing here, does not seem poised for more than the small screen stardom that "Game of Thrones" presently gives him. Butler, meanwhile, appears to still be looking for another 300-type hit. His filmography may have doubled since that 2007 Zack Snyder blockbuster but his career does not seem to have evolved at all.

The best frame of reference for judging Gods of Egypt's box office performance may be 2010's Clash of the Titans and its 2012 sequel Wrath of the Titans. Those films wielded comparable budgets, international casts, effects and PG-13 action. Critics hated them almost as much as they hated Gods. But at least the Titans movies sold some tickets stateside while doing the bulk of their business overseas. Opening in a distant second place behind third-week Deadpool, Gods was dead on arrival and barely doubled its opening weekend gross, indicating toxic word of mouth and general disinterest. The film gets another shot to attract viewers in this week's Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, 4K Ultra HD, and DVD releases from Lionsgate. This review covers Best Buy's exclusive Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Steelbook combo pack.

Gods of Egypt: Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Steelbook cover art - click to buy exclusively at Best Buy Blu-ray 3D, Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Blu-rays: 7.1 DTS-HD MA/DTS X (English), 5.1 DTS (Spanish), 2.0 DTS (Descriptive Video Service, Late Night Viewing Mix)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: May 31, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Single-sided, dual-layered disc (BD-50)
Steelbook Exclusively at Best Buy
Also available as standard packaged Blu-ray 3D Combo ($39.99 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($42.99 SRP), Blu-ray + Digital HD ($35.99 SRP), DVD + Digital ($29.95 SRP), and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Gods of Egypt is far from the most aesthetically pleasing film, but that is no fault of the Blu-rays. Both the 3D and 2D discs present the 2.40:1 film sharply with vivid colors and nary a technical imperfection. Suitably, the default 7.1 DTS-X soundtrack (DTS-HD MA for non-compatible systems) is robust and full of life. If you can get past the mindlessness of it all, you may find your senses adequately engaged here.

Gerard Butler and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau practice their fight in stunts featurette "The Battle for Eternity." Kenneth Ransom played the part of the Sphinx with help from motion capture sensors.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The all-HD Blu-ray extras begin with deleted storyboards, which in reality are two deleted scenes presented in crude animatics (5:45), one of which somehow has dialogue and both of which are fully scored.

The first involves Horus' coronation, while the second pits Bek against a Phoenix. Presumably the whole movie was previsualized this way, which has the effect of a low-budget animated version of the film, not unlike a sophisticated for the '90s CD-ROM or something you'd find on a Christian TV station channel-surfing on a Saturday morning.

"A Divine Vision: Creating a Cinematic Action Fantasy" (11:48) offers a brisk and general overview of the film's creation. It touches on the animal form design, the previsualization process, and so on.

"Of Gods and Mortals: The Cast" (10:52) discusses and celebrates the international talent assembled in front of the camera, who in turn get to speak about the roles they fill.

"Transformation: Costume, Make-Up & Hair" (11:10) addresses these specialized technical facets, with crew members sharing some of the thought that went into aspects you will give no thought while actors share their points of view on the topic.

"On Location: Shooting in Australia" (12:44) speaks highly of the nation and its local crew that housed production. It's just too bad that any natural beauty is negated by blue screen, limited sets, and soundstages. As such, the discussion soon shifts from location to effects. We do learn why they picked bluescreen rather than green screen.

"The Battle for Eternity: Stunts" (11:38) provides looks at the fight training and rehearsals. Yawn.

Finally, "A Window Into Another World: Visual Effects" (10:58) looks at the worlds created to replace the blue screen on which the film was largely shot, with looks at specific illusions.

An Egyptian god in metallic animal form appears on the Gods of Egypt DVD main menu.

The DVD only gets the stunts and visual effects featurettes in the way of extras.

The discs open with trailers for Now You See Me 2, The Last Witch Hunter (which hails from the same gifted writers as the feature presentation), The Divergent Series: Allegiant, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2, and, in a blast from the past, The Crow, which was Proyas' second feature as director. The same items repeat from the menus' "Also from Lionsgate" listings.

The menu runs clips in frames. The Blu-ray does not support bookmarks, but does resume playback.

Only at Best Buy, this Blu-ray 3D combo pack is packaged in an artsy Steelbook that features the gods in their animal forms and relegates the film's title (and the film/disc details) to a cardboard wraparound. The three uniquely labelled, full-color discs claim both sides of the Steelbook, whose inside features further artwork. A lone single-sided insert supplies directions and a code for the Digital HD which is both UltraViolet and iTunes-compatible.

Oh my! He's on fire! Geoffrey Rush plays Ra.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

There is lots of time still, but it's going to take something spectacularly bad to dethrone Gods of Egypt from the Worst Movie of 2016 slot it currently has locked down for me. This inane and uninvolving sword and sandal epic lacks a brain, a heart, and even the passable action and visuals it demands. It's tough to imagine anyone taking a strong liking to this movie, especially someone who actually values movies as a medium for storytelling.

Lionsgate's Blu-ray 3D combo has picture and sound beyond reproach and substantial extras, but none of that makes the movie worthy of your time.

Buy Gods of Egypt: Blu-ray 3D Combo Steelbook exclusively at Best Buy
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Related Reviews:
Gerard Butler: Olympus Has Fallen The Bounty Hunter Coriolanus How to Train Your Dragon
Brenton Thwaites: The Giver Maleficent | Nikolaj Coster-Waldau: Mama Oblivion 1,000 Times Good Night
Chadwick Boseman: 42 Draft Day Captain America: Civil War | Elodie Yung: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Geoffrey Rush: The King's Speech Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Pompeii 300: Rise of an Empire Spartacus: Blood and Sand Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time
Directed by Alex Proyas: Knowing | New to Disc: The Finest Hours The Witch Zoolander 2

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Reviewed June 4, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Summit Entertainment, Thunder Road Pictures, Mystery Clock Cinema, and Lionsgate.
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