The European Gods of Egypt (Gods of Egypt, 2016)

gods_of_egypt_poster.jpgOkay, the title there is a little unfair. The cast is not all white or European.  You have Chadwick Boseman and Elodie Yung for example.  But still, our core heroes and central gods are pretty white.  So, the title stays.

Set in a world where the gods are real and rule Egypt directly while walking among the people, Gods of Egypt is focused on young Bek and his beloved Zaya.  While Zaya favors the gods and sees them as good, Bek is more skeptical.

On the day Osiris passes his crown to son Horus as the new king, Set betrays Osiris and kills him, stealing Horus’ eyes and casting him out of the temple.  When Zaya is killed, Bek steals one of Horus’ eyes and seeks out Horus.  He gives Horus the one eye and makes a deal to help Horus get revenge on Set in return for bringing Zaya back from the dead.

There is a race of time, as Zaya will soon have to pay tribute to enter the afterlife, and she has nothing to give.  They enlist help from Hathor (goddess of love) and Thoth (god of wisdom).  At a pivotal moment, it is revealed that it is not possible for Horus to uphold his end of the deal.  From there on out, it becomes a struggle to defeat Set and his master plan.

Visionary director Alex Proyas returns after “Seven Years in Exile” for his Nick Cage vehicle Knowing. I confess to having a limited knowledge of Egyptian mythology, so casting aside, this all may be terribly accurate…but I am guessing that it is not the case.  Nothing in the film feels terribly authentic (for example, the golden armor or the cosmic machines) and while the general design sense is kind of cool looking, there are things that just are awkward. The gods are slightly larger than the humans, and it just looks weird. The film tries to be more dramatic than it manages, and it’s big moments tend to fall flat.

Gods of Egypt simply never gels, and honestly, the visual highlights simply cannot save it.

Yo Ho Ho! Let’s Try This Again (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, 2017)

Pirates_of_Caribbean_Dead_Men_PosterDead Men Tell No Tales comes six years on the heels of On Stranger Tides, and returns to the territory of the first three films.  We meet a young boy named Henry.  He takes a boat out to sea, ties a rock to his ankle and leaps into the sea.  He is saved by the flying Dutchman.  This is Henry, the son of Will and Elizabeth Turner. He tells his father he thinks he knows a way to undo the curse his father is under.  However, Will sends Henry back.  Several years later, Henry is on the hunt for Jack Sparrow to help him find the Trident of Poseidon.

In his travels, he meets the Ghost Captain Salazar who wants him to give Jack Sparrow a message for him.  Salazar was cursed while trying to kill Sparrow and is now trapped as a ghost.

Henry does find Sparrow, and an accused witch who is also seeking the Trident.  She is not a witch, but rather a very scientifically inclined young woman named Carina.  It becomes a race against time as they search for the Trident, pursued by Salazar and the British.

As previously noted this film came out six years after On Stranger Tides and this film completely ignores the events of that fourth film.  This is not to say they did not happen, but rather they bear no impact and feature none of the characters specific to that film.  And they return things to the Turner family.

It feels like they anticipated this being a final film as it brings everything to a feeling of finality (in spite of a post credit scene that makes little sense in regards to the way the film ends).  The film is packed with numerous action and escape sequences.  There is a thrilling sequence involving ghost sharks.  And the introduction of Jack Sparrow in this film is memorable and entertaining.

It takes awhile to get going, though the film is thankfully only about two hours, making it a lot more fun and less bloated than some of the previous installments.  As always, the visuals are top notch.  Salazar and his crew are crack and missing limbs and parts of their heads.  There is a neat look where Salazar’s hair flows like he is underwater.

And the cast is quite good.  The returning cast each get moments to shine and Javier Bardem appears to have had a lot of fun in his role as the angry and determined Salazar.

While not quite at the heights of the original film, this is still a fairly fun outing.

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