Directed by Alex “Go Directly to Movie Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200” Proyas
Gods of Egypt is Clash of the Titans for ADD kids that spent the whole time in Mythology class playing Warcraft on their iPhones.
Somehow the once promising director of Dark City has made the ultimate Ray Harryhausen movie for the Minecraft generation: a soulless, nonsensical, $140 million mythological misadventure featuring the finest special effects from the year 1999. Much controversy has been made of Gods of Egypt‘s white-centric casting, but if you ask me, I’d say that’s the least of this ill-conceived on nearly every level film’s problems. The miscasting frequently made for the most entertaining moments.
I doubt I will see anything funnier than the moment Bryan Brown first appeared on the screen, looking like an aging surfer dude in King Friday’s wardrobe, even rocking a scraggly soul patch. This is the Egyptian god Osiris?
There was something almost as funny: Geoffrey Rush as the sun god Ra, looking like Obi-Wan Chemotherapy, floating around in space on an open barge, suddenly morphing into a 30-foot flaming Human Torch Pope so that he can fire-staff zap a giant black cloud worm with scolex teeth that keeps trying to eat our world.
For those who have been screaming for months about the film’s whitewashing, you’re going to love that scene at the end when an all-black crowd of peasants drop to their knees and cheer for their Caucasian god-king. It’s as if the filmmakers heard your complaints and decided to give you one final middle finger.
The actual gods of Egypt live amongst the mortals they rule, functioning as just that – living gods. All the god characters appear to be between 10-15 feet tall, meaning they are brought to life using reverse Hobbitization visual effects. This is actually one of the few intriguing ideas in the word salad script from the writers of Dracula Untold and The Last Witch Hunter (Oof!) as well as one of the only consistently convincing special effects in a movie that is almost nothing but iffy special effects.
Gerard Butler, with what in Dungeons & Dragons could only be described as a +6 spray-on tan, hams it up as the Egyptian god Set as if he were a WWEgypt wrestler opening this week’s edition of “Monday Night Ra” by waltzing out to the ring to proclaim himself the one true Mesopotamian champion and let it be known that the audience should bow down before him because his “fertile crescent” is much bigger than theirs.
Set’s motivations boil down to an acute case of “Loki Syndrome.” He also wants to be immortal. What’s that, you ask? Aren’t gods immortals? Not these gods. They can die, and their blood type is gold, or as it is more commonly referred to in the medical community, Trump Positive. The climax left me wondering how Set was going to gain what he wanted by doing what he did; not that it would have probably mattered anyway since the script completely contradicts itself by doing at least three different things we were told earlier would not be possible.
Evil Leonidas crashes a coronation with the help of Xerxes’ Immortals, their armor now refurbished with an Iron Man paint job. I think Set may have secretly raided the Marvel Universe at some point because there’s also a battle scene in which he wears a helmet that looks like the Green Goblin’s scalp from Raimi’s Spider-Man.
Watching Set murder his father and steal his King of the Ring crown doesn’t sit well with egotistical babyface deity Bret “The Hitman” Horus (Coster-Waldau, aka a Lannister who is going to owe a lot of debts after this debacle). Not even turning into a gold-plated version of Soaron from the old “Captain Powers and the Soldiers of the Future” series proves enough to defeat Set in his “Mecha-Goldar” mode, and thus Horus gets his eyes torn out the same way the wicked queen on “Once Upon a Time” rips out hearts.
Because none of the producers got the memo that the Prince of Persia movie was a colossal flop, they insisted that the film’s mortal hero be a British boy band version of said character. After Set enslaves Egypt, handsome young thief Bek (Thwaites) sets about to save his one true love and Horus Fan Club President-for-Life, Zaya (Eaton), from the clutches of a Set-friendly master builder portrayed by all-purpose movie villain and 2002 World Sneering Champion Rufus Sewell.
Doing so entails Bek stealing back one of Horus’ eyes from Set’s vault of Harry Potter meets Saw puzzle death traps, which he does rather easily. Alas, Zaya gets killed during the getaway, and now Gods of Egypt turns into a dreadfully mismatched buddy flick with plucky lovesick puppy Bek agreeing to help arrogant one-eyed god Horus free Egypt and the afterlife from Set’s tyrannical rule and death taxes in exchange for bringing dimwitted Zaya back from the land of the dead before she fails to pay the afterlife toll tax and gets turned into yet more pixels. Cue lots of snappy banter, often in the sense that it made me want to snap their necks for being so damn irritating.
Their clash of the Pharaohs will require the assistance of several other gods, including the previously mentioned Ra; Horus’ girlfriend and current Set concubine Hathor, the goddess of love; and the prissy god of wisdom, Thoth. Mostly they just engage in an endless stream of video game set pieces. So much leaping to and from varying dangers, tussling with digital bad guys, narrowly avoiding crumbling structures, getting chased by the giant serpents from Dragon Wars (more leaping), solving the riddle of the Sphinx (more crumbling), and did I mention all the leaping and crumbling?
On the positive side, Elodie Yung has some fun playing the bewitching Hathor. I rather wish the writers had left Horus to mope about blindly in his tomb while Hathor and Bek set out to save their loved ones since they actually played off one another quite well in the few scenes they shared.
I need to mention that Hathor must wear a magic bracelet at all times, or else hordes of demon hands from the netherworld will drag her through a portal and, I guess, finger her for all eternity. It doesn’t make much sense, but then it’s really an excuse to set up something for a sequel I think we can all pretty much agree is never going to happen.
Another positive is Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, though I’m not sure he would agree. Boseman gives the kind of performance you only get when an actor realizes he’s made a dreadful mistake and just says “screw it.” Total camp. Much needed camp, if you ask me.
For a movie that is almost non-stop action, Gods of Egypt offers little by way of actual thrills or adventure. Every scene feels as if it has been calibrated solely to lead to the next bit of computer-generated overkill. Even when they’re not setting up a CGI set piece, there’s obvious animation permeating every corner of the screen. The wrong movie was titled Pixels. I found myself merely staring at the screen, neither bored by nor engaged with much of anything I was seeing. When it was over, I felt next to nothing; and I suspect once I finish writing this review, I’ll never think about it ever again. Not good enough to excite nor enjoyably bad enough to achieve camp classic status, much like poor Zaya, Gods of Egypt is stuck somewhere between life and death with not enough to offer. Sorry, no immortality for you. Just movie oblivion.
One last thing. Based on the view from space it appears our world is indeed flat. Up yours, Neil deGrasse Tyson!
Victor Crowley Blu-ray Review – Killer Special Features Make This a Must-Own
Directed by Adam Green
Distributed by Dark Sky Films
Like many of you horror fans out there, I was surprised as hell when Adam Green announced that there was not only going to be the fourth entry in his famed Hatchet series but that the movie had already been filmed and was going to be screening across the country.
Of course, I wanted to get to one of those screenings as soon as possible, but unfortunately, there were no events in my neck of the woods here in Gainesville, Fl., and so I had to bide my time and await the Blu-ray.
Then a few days ago, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley landed on my doorstep and I jumped right into watching the film. Short story, I loved it. But we’ll get into all of that more in-depth below. For now, let’s do a quick rundown on the film for those two or three horror fans out there who aren’t familiar with the film and its premise.
Victor Crowley is the fourth entry in the Hatchet series, a franchise that follows the tale of a deformed man that accidentally met the wrong end of his father’s hatchet long ago and now roams the Louisiana swamp each night as a “Repeater”, aka a ghost that doesn’t know it is dead and thus cannot be killed. Ever. Well, maybe not ever. After all, Victor was supposedly killed at the end of Hatchet III by a combination of Danielle Harris, his father’s ashes, and a grenade launcher. Dead to rights, right? Not so much.
In this fourth entry/reboot, a group of indie horror filmmakers, lead by the adorable Katie Booth, accidentally resurrect Crowley just as the original trilogy’s lone survivor (Parry Shen) is visiting the swamp one final time in the name of cold hard cash. Long story short, Shen’s plane crashes with his agent (Felissa Rose), his ex-wife (Krystal Joy Brown), and her film crew in tow. Some survive the initial crash, some don’t. As you can imagine, the lucky ones died first.
Victor Crowley is a true return to form for Adam Green, who sat out of the director’s chair on the third film. As always, Green doesn’t shy away from the over-the-top comedy and gore the franchise is well known for. The blood rages and the sight-gags hit fast and unexpectedly. And, speaking of the sight-gags, there’s evidently a shot in this Blu-ray version of the film that was cut from the “Unrated” version released on VOD. The shot is one I won’t spoil here, but for the sake of viewing Green’s initial vision alone, the Blu-ray for Victor Crowley is really the only way to own this film. Don’t get me wrong, there are (many) more reasons to shell out the cash for this Blu-ray, but I’ll get into those soon.
Back to the film itself, what makes this fourth entry in the series one of the very best Hatchet films (if not THE best) is Adam Green’s honesty. Not only does he conquer a few demons with the ex-wife subplot, but he gives us a truly tragic moment via Tiffany Shepis’ character that had me in stunned silence. Her death is not an easy kill to pull off in a notoriously over-the-top slasher series, but it earned mucho respect from this guy.
Basically, if you loved the original trilogy, you will love this one as well. If you mildly enjoyed the other films, this one will surely make you a fan. Slow clap, Adam Green.
Let it be known that I’m a massive fan of fly-on-the-wall filmmaking documentaries. Like many of you out there, I find film production to be utterly fascinating and thus have grown a little tired of the typical making-of featurettes we get on Blu-rays. You know the ones. The director talks about his vision for the film, the cast say how much fun they had on-set with the other actors and crew, and we get cutaways to people dancing and trying to kiss the behind-the-scenes camera – all usually set to upbeat music.
While I’ll take what I can get, these kinds of behind-the-scenes features have grown to be little more than tiresome and superficial. But no worries here my friends as Adam Green has pulled out all the BS and given us a full-length, 90-minute behind-the-scenes feature called “Fly on the Wall” that shows it how it really is on the set.
Highlights include new Hatchet D.P. Jan-Michael Losada, who took over for Will Barratt this time around, who is little less than a f*cking hilarious rockstar, a front row seat to the making of Felissa Rose’s death scene, a creepy-cool train ghost story prank by Green, a clever impromptu song via Krystal Joy Brown (Sabrina), and a fun bit towards the end where Green and the SFX crew create the “gore inserts” in (basically) the backyard after filming. Good times all around.
The documentary then ends with the Facebook Live video of Adam Green announcing Victor Crowley‘s surprise premiere at that Hatchet 10th Anniversary screening. A great way to end a killer making-of documentary making his disc a must-own for this special feature alone.
But wait, it gets better. On top of the film itself and the above-mentioned “Fly on the Wall” documentary, the disc features an extensive interview with Adam Green called “Raising the Dead… Again.” This interview is basically Green going over the same speech he gave to the crowd at the surprise unveiling shown at the end of the “Fly on the Wall” doc, but that said, it’s great to hear Green tells his inspiring story to us directly.
So while this feature treads water all of us have been through below (especially fans of Green’s podcast The Movie Crypt), Green is always so charming and brutally honest that we never get tired of him telling us the truth about the ins-and-outs of crafting horror films in this day and age. Again, good stuff.
Additionally, the disc also boasts two audio commentaries, one with Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan, and another “technical” commentary with Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft.
Add in the film’s teaser and trailer, and Victor Crowley is a must-own on Blu-ray.
- Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green and actors Parry Shen, Laura Ortiz, and Dave Sheridan
- Audio commentary with writer/director Adam Green, cinematographer Jan-Michael Losada, editor Matt Latham, and make-up effects artist Robert Pendergraft
- Raising the Dead… Again – Extensive interview with writer/director Adam Green
- Behind the Scenes – Hour-long making-of featurette
One of the best, if not THE best, entries in the Hatchet series, with special features that are in-depth and a blast (and considering all other versions of the film have been castrated for content), this Blu-ray is really the only way to own Adam Green’s Victor Crowley.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 152 – Cloverfield Paradox & The Ritual
Last week Netflix shocked the world by not only releasing a new trailer for Cloverfield Paradox during the Superbowl, but announcing the film would be available to stream right after the game. In a move no one saw coming, Netflix shook the film industry to it’s very core. A few days later, Netflix quietly released horror festival darling: The Ritual.
Hold on to your Higgs Boson, because this week we’ve got a double header for ya, and we’re not talking about that “world’s largest gummy worm” in your mom’s nightstand. Why was one film marketed during the biggest sporting event of the year, and why was one quietly snuck in like a pinky in your pooper? Tune in a find out!
Meet me at the waterfront after the social for the Who Goes There Podcast episode 152!
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The Who Goes There Podcast is available to subscribe to on iTunes right here. Not an iTunes user? You can listen on our Dread Central page. Can’t get enough? We also do that social media shit. You’ll find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube.
The Housemaid Review – Love Makes the Ghost Grow Stronger
Written and directed by Derek Nguyen
Vietnamese horror films are something of a rarity due largely to pressure from the country’s law enforcement agencies that have warned filmmakers to steer clear of the genre in recent years. The country’s exposure to the industry is limited, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a handful of filmmakers out there that are passionate and determined to get their art out into the world. IFC Midnight has stepped up to the plate to shepherd writer/director Derek Nguyen’s period ghost thriller The Housemaid in hopes of getting it in front of American horror fans.
Aside from a few moments that delve into soap opera territory, Nguyen’s film is full of well-crafted scares and some surprisingly memorable scenes that sneak up at just the right times. For history buffs there’s also a lot of material to sink your teeth into dealing with French Colonial rule and mistreatment of the Vietnamese during the 1950’s. Abuse that, if you’re not careful, could lead to a vengeful spirit seeking atonement.
Desperate and exhausted after walking for miles, an orphaned woman named Linh (Kate) seeks refuge and employment as a housemaid at a large rubber plantation in 1953 French Indochina. Once hired, she learns of the dark history surrounding the property and how her mere presence has awakened an accursed spirit that wanders the surrounding woods and dark corners of the estate. Injured in battle, French officer Sebastien Laurent (Richaud) returns to preside over the manor and, unexpectedly, begins a dangerous love affair with Linh that stirs up an even darker evil.
Told in flashbacks, the abuse of workers reveals a long history of mistreatment that enshrouds the surrounding land in darkness and despair, providing ripe ground for a sinister spirit that continues to grow stronger. Once it’s revealed that the ghost has a long history with Laurent before her death, the reasons she begins to kill become more and more obvious as the death toll piles up. Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle among Laurent, Linh, and the specter of Laurent’s dead wife.
Powered by desire to avenge tortured workers of the past and the anger fueled by seeing her husband in the embrace of a peasant girl, the apparition is frightening and eerily beautiful as she stalks her victims. One scene in particular showing her wielding an axe is the most indelible image to take away from the film, and other moments like it are what make The Housemaid a standout. The twisted sense of romance found in a suffering spirit scorned in death is the heart of the story even if the romance between the two living lovers winds up having more screen time.
The melodrama and underwhelming love scenes between Linh and Laurent are the least effective part of The Housemaid, revealing some of Nguyen’s limitations in providing dialogue and character moments that make us connect with these two characters as much as we do when the ghost is lurking around the frame. What does help to save the story is a well kept secret revealing a connection with the housemaid and the apparition.
Honestly, if this was an American genre film, the limitations seen in The Housemaid might cause more criticism, but seeing an emerging artist and his team out of Vietnam turn out a solid product like this leads me to highlight the good and champion the effort in hopes of encouraging more filmmakers to carry the flag. Ironically, the film is set for a U.S. remake in the near future.
The Housemaid hits select theaters, VOD, and digital platforms TODAY, February 16th.
Using the real life history of indentured servants during Colonial rule, The Housemaid becomes more than just a self-contained ghost story, adding a good deal of depth to a story that could have just centered around a love triangle.
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