Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Gods of Egypt

Year 9, Day 121 - 5/1/17 - Movie #2,616

BEFORE: I'm in Atlantic City today, we get these Groupon deals that require a stay from Sunday to Tuesday, which of course is off-peak, most people want to stay Friday to Sunday, so we get a cheaper hotel rate.  All that means is that I have to take Monday off, which is not the worst thing.  This is also the day that trial that picked me for jury duty was scheduled to start, so I'd much rather be playing slot machines and eating at buffets than serving on a jury, that's a no-brainer.  I'm doubly glad that I weaseled out of sitting on that trial, and that we didn't have to re-schedule our little mini-vacation.

It's still too chilly for the beach, but we did see one family out there trying.  The wind was blowing their towels around, there was sand flying everywhere all around them, but darn it, they probably drove 100 miles to get to the beach, and they were going to have their beach day.

Bruce Spence carries over from "Peter Pan", and though he's not Australian, he's really from New Zealned, Bryan Brown is back, and he IS from Australia.


THE PLOT: Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the god of darkness, who has usurped Egypt's throne, plunging the once peaceful empire into chaos and conflict.

AFTER: I may want to tread a little lightly tonight, because I know one of the screenwriters, who also wrote the screenplay for "Dracula Untold", which similarly took characters that were prominent in mythology or folklore, and revised or re-imagined them.  Here he's working through the Egyptian pantheon, but I'm afraid no matter how you slice it, this is six different kinds of ridiculous.

First off, you have to imagine that the Gods of Egypt were, in fact, real, at least at some point.  But of course we have no evidence of this, that they existed in any form besides stories, or heiroglyphic depictions.  Secondly that they made their presence known to Egyptian mortals, and not only walked among them (you can spot the gods because they're a few feet taller than the mortals) but also ruled over them.  Common sense would dictate that the Pharaohs claimed lineage from the gods, but you would expect that to be a bunch of hoeey, unprovable claims that conveniently granted them some kind of dominion or control over everyone else.

Along with this go a whole bunch of rules and regulations that re-define divinity - like the fact that gods can apparently die, or destroy each other, or be injured in ways that lessen their powers, like Horus gets both eyes stolen by Set.  What good is godhood if you can be hurt or killed?  And if one god can take away the eyes or chop off the arm of another, why can't that god regenerate his eyes or grow back his arm?  A god with limited powers isn't really a god, right?  It's more like a superhero.

Or in this case, a Transformer - because the coolest Egyptian gods seem to have the ability to transform into shiny metal birds or fighting tigers, like they're MegaZords or something. (Mega-Lords?)  OK, so the effects are really cool, and the battle scenes are, like epic.  Should I just regard this as a bunch of eye-candy or action-movie fluff or something?

The problem is, I can't do that.  Even if I follow equal-time rules, having watched a few films about the Judeo-Christian God, like "Exodus: Gods and Kings" and "Risen", and state that I'm merely doing a similar investigation into the Egyptian gods by watching this, it's all still bunk, right?  I mean, if you acknowledge that there ARE (or have been) many different religious belief systems on our planet over the centuries, they can't ALL be right, so therefore, logically, none of them are right.  Even though the believers of each faith will tell you that THEIR God (or Gods) is/are the ONLY Gods, I have to, by default, discount them all.

Clearly, someone saw that films like "Clash of the Titans" and "Hercules" were doing big box-office business, and figured they could get the same results by strip-mining the Egyptian god stories instead of the Greek ones.  But they kept in some very Greek mythological things, like minotaurs.  That's very telling - and so is the depiction of elaborate traps within the temples, which seems to be cribbed directly from either the "Lara Croft" or "Indiana Jones" series.

Furthermore, this film ups the ante by depicting the world the way that the Egyptians did - it's flat here, not round, and how does that do anybody in our modern culture any good?  Seriously, if you fall back on the tropes of Greek & Egyptian myths that depict Apollo or Ra dragging the sun across the sky each day via chariot - here we see that the "chariot" is a space-ship in Earth's orbit, and Ra literally drags the sun across the disc-world each day via a giant chain.  Then, when he gets to the edge of the world, his "chariot" goes under the flat disc, he battles the night-demon Apophis with his light-bolts, presumably forcing him around to the other side of the world (where it's now night, duh) and then dragging the sun across the far side of the world.

It's a simple enough solution that fits in with the Egyptian myths, but who does this really help?  Certainly not the kids who are going to go into school and say that the earth is shaped like a big flat cookie, they saw it in a movie.  We know now that the earth is round (OK, an oblate spheroid, whatevs) so this can only lead to more ignorance in the world.  Just because the Egyptian people were ignorant THEN about the way the world worked, it doesn't mean we have to keep their bad ideas alive.

Same goes for all this underworld/afterlife nonsense.  The Egyptians believed that in order to gain access to the afterlife, you had to bring a tribute of gold or jewels with you when you died, to pay for your passage.  (The Greeks had something similar, you had to be buried with some coins to pay Charon, the ferryman on the river Styx, or you'd sit on the banks of the river forever, unable to get to the Elysian Fields.)  So we see part of that "process" here, as a panel of universal judges takes the offerings from each departed soul and places them on a balance, and if the payment is greater than the sins the soul committed, they can pass through to the land beyond.  (Huh, it's funny how the passage of the soul to the good place looks an awful lot like the destruction of the soul if they don't have the proper tribute.  Is the suggestion here that the gods are full of crap, and nobody's really getting through, that it's all one big cosmic scam?)

Again, in our real world, there's just no good that can come from depicting the universe functioning in this way.  We've already got a few religions that say you can commit horrible acts of terrorism and murder in the name of their gods, and a few other religions that say you can sin as much as you want, as long as you repent and ask for forgiveness before you die.  Now along comes this film that says you can also potentially BUY your way into heaven?  Like, haven't we got enough corruption and theft and glorification of wealth in our world already?  Where's the movie that states that you'll only get into heaven if you do good deeds, and you do them sincerely and consistently for your whole life, and you do them because they're the right thing to do, and not just to get into heaven?  Better yet, where's the movie that suggests that maybe there is no heaven, so we've got to be excellent to each other while we're here, because this is all we get?

Also starring Brenton Thwaites (last seen in "Maleficent"), Courtney Eaton (last seen in "Mad Max: Fury Road"), Nikolai Coster-Waldau (last seen in "The Other Woman"), Gerard Butler (last seen in "London Has Fallen"), Bryan Brown (last seen in "Australia"), Geoffrey Rush (last heard in "Minions"), Elodie Yung (last seen in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"), Rufus Sewell (last seen in "The Holiday"), Rachael Blake (last seen in "Truth"), Chadwick Boseman (last seen in "Captain America: Civil War"), Emma Booth, Goran D. Kleut (last seen in "The Great Gatsby"), Alexander England, Abbey Lee (also last seen in "Mad Max: Fury Road"), Kenneth Ransom, Yaya Deng, Robyn Nevin (last seen in "The Matrix Revolutions").

RATING: 4 out of 10 floor plans on scrolls

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