Gods Of Egypt Review

I’ve been waiting for Gods Of Egypt for a good couple of months now. Released in America back at the second half of February, it was commercially panned by critics. The director started calling film critics “deranged idiots” and “utterly worthless”. So naturally I wanted to see it, despite having to wait three more months before it came out in the UK.

Gods Of Egypt stars Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler and Courtney Eaton and is directed by Alex Proyas. The films follows god Horus (Coster-Waldau), as he must team up with the mortal Bek (Thwaites) to defeat the evil god Set from destroying Egypt.

I won’t deny I had fun in Gods Of Egypt. For maybe around five minutes overall, a little bit here and there, I liked it. Everyone is playing it up to the nines; metal CGI god-bird things are flying around smashing into each other and generally the film is unabashedly campy. I mean, quality actors like Chadwick Boseman, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush are in this. They must know it’s a ridiculous film but they are having fun with it. Thanks to Christopher Nolan, every big spectacle smash-fest thinks it has to be smart and broody. For that, I almost want to be lenient on Gods Of Egypt, it’s glorious in all its inept idiocy that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself for brief moments.

But please understand, it’s not good.

For all the exquisite cast, it really is poor acting. Geoffrey Rush looks like he’s about to fall asleep when delivering his lines. Chadwick Boseman is mincing around the place like Raul Julia and leading man Brenton Thwaties has only two emotions, earnest and REALLY, REALLY earnest. There is no chemistry between Horus and his bride Hathor (played by Elodie Yung) and nothing that can really get me invested in these characters or their struggles. That might be down to the script (written by the director Proyas), which are mostly just reused lines from every other blockbuster-budget movie that has ever graced cinemas.

I quite enjoyed some of the action scenes. Sure, it’s just big CGI messes smashing together, like a five year-old playing with their toys, but some were entertaining. A battle between Horus and two of Set’s lieutenants (riding giant Cobras) was fun while it lasted and the opening of the film, where Horus and Set face off, morphing into their metallic forms was enjoyable. Another point, when Bek must raid Set’s treasure room, which is filled with traps, was entertaining enough, even if it was over quite quickly.

My main problem with the film though was the extraordinary run-time. The film is over two hours, which is not acceptable for a film like this. There are several scenes that I could cut, where nothing is being added to the narrative or characters.

Some people have been calling this the worst film of the year. I don’t object to people called it bad, but the outlandish villainization of this one film is ridiculous. Sure, the film is rather simple-minded, loud and whitewashed or Orientalized (go read Edward Said), the script is messy, the characters are either wooden or pantomime and it drags on for way longer than it need to. All fair points, but several films that have come out of Hollywood have a few of the same problems. The Star Wars prequels, Avengers 2/ Civil War, Batman Vs. Superman, Peter Jackson’s King Kong, Angry Birds Jurassic Park 2-4, they all have at least one or two of these problems. Even the original Clash Of The Titans/Jason And The Argonauts that Gods of Egypt is referencing have them. Yes, Ray Harryhausen is legend and his work shines above criticism, but the other parts of his films are really quite bad (trust me, I’ve seen them both in the past week).

In summary, Gods Of Egypt is dumb. It doesn’t get a recommendation from me, but it’s definitely not the worst film of the year. Maybe one for lovers of spectacle and campy cheese, but for everyone else, it’s a no-go.

Score: 4/10 A so-so big-budget adventure with many faults.

London Has Fallen Review

Finally, it’s March. We’re going to be having some great films this month, Hail Caesar!, Anomalisa and even though I’m not looking forward to it, many film-goers are eagerly anticipating Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. But, before we can enjoy those, I have to clean house one last time for London Has Fallen.

London Has Fallen stars Gerard Butler, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman and Alon Moni Aboutboul and is directed by Babak Najafi. The films follows secret service agent Mike Bannng (Butler) who must protect US President Benjamin Asher (Eckhart) after terrorists attack London.

I’ll start by saying that I haven’t seen Olympus Has Fallen. I’m much more of a White House Down kind of guy, but due to the former being a box office success and the latter flopping, we get an unnecessary sequel. But anyway, how does London Has Fallen stand as a film?

The answer is poorly. Very poorly.

The action scenes are passable. Most are just confusing jump-cut affairs, apart from one pretty good long take of a firefight in the London streets. Several explosions open the terrorist attack and it seems every single object in London has been doused in petrol and is a hair away from catching fire. Everything that can explode does explode, it starts to become almost comical. Director Babak Najafi seems to be giving Michael Bay a run for his money in the unnecessary explosions department, as we have around seven explosions delivered in a montage.

As the set-up for the film is the state funeral for the British Prime Minister, several heads of state are present in the film. Just in case we get confused between them, each one has a lapel pin of the flag of their nation attached to them, it’s like the film is holding your hand in case you get confused. The leaders on screen are thinly disguised versions of each the real life version, with Merkel, Berlusconi and Holland in all but name on screen. But as nearly all of them get wiped out in the opening ten minutes it falls to Gerard Butler as the world’s most Scottish American to save the day. He makes the British police and army look like bumbling fools, but that might be because Banning himself seems to be like a video game character in comparison, with the unlimited ammo and auto-aim cheats turned on.

The London displayed in the film was designed by someone who used tourist books as their research. The capital of England (not the capital of Britain, something the movie keeps getting wrong) is just made up of famous landmarks and tube stations. I guess this is to cater to the American audience, who only recognise London from Buckingham Palace and Big Ben.

While the first film had rogue elements of North Korea attacking the United States, for the sequel the bad guys are rogue elements of Pakistan. The films tries to put some motive into why the bad guys are staging a terrorist attack but it never really comes together. It tries to make the audience see their side of the conflict, with drone strikes killing their families, but then the film just turns around and becomes pro-US again, instead of staying with what could have been a good theme of the context of war. What we get is another modern action film that ends up painting all people from the Middle East as terrorists. For the finale it goes overboard, with Gerard Butler torturing the second-in-command bad guy while explaining why America is the best country in the world. I was half expecting to see an eagle fly overhead with the US flag in its talons and it screeching “‘MURICA!” for the end credits.

In conclusion, London Has Fallen is just a mindless action film with not much to recommend. If you want something as dumb as this to work, get Roland Emmerich to direct it. At least he knows how to make this stuff entertaining.

Score: 3/10 I can’t remember a single scene composition from the film…and I watched it yesterday. That should tell you all you need to know.

Tomb Raider Double Film Review


I love Tomb Raider and it’s heroine Lara Croft. Being the exact same age as myself, Tomb Raider was and has been a staple of childhood; I’m a fan of the games to my core. And while my enthusiasm may have waned with the last few instalments, my love for the character hasn’t. Lara Croft, like Ellen Ripley and Clarice Starling before her has become a poster-girl for empowered females in the media. And with rumblings of a new film coming along featuring current Lara voice actress Camilla Luddington as our dear Lara, I thought it would be fitting for a film review. So, without further ado, lets look at Lady Croft’s two forays into the film world, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and it’s sequel The Cradle Of Life.


Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is directed by Simon West stars Angelina Jolie in the title role, with Iain Glen as bad guy Manfred Powell, Daniel Craig as fellow tomb raider Alex West and Jon Voight as Lara’s father Lord Richard Croft. The story follows Lara’s journey to retrieve the powerful Triangle of Light before a sinister organisation.

Despite having a budget higher than the first The Lord Of The Rings film (another film that came out in the same year), the acting is all over the shop. Angelina Jolie does an almost caricatured plummy British accent to rival that of recent release A Royal Night Out, while Iain Glen is almost like a Bond villain, being ridiculously evil. Daniel Craig fares a bit better as a Nathan Drake-lite even if his American accent does fluctuate a few times in the film. This, along with Layer Cake, could have been his audition piece for the role of James Bond; it shows that he can do action with small inflections of humour throughout. But really, this is a video game film, so story is never one of its strong points; we’re here for the action, which is pretty incredible.

Fans of Tomb Raider will get a kick out of some of the locations of the action scenes, with certain locations being ripped from the games with very little changes. Cambodian temples, Siberian landscapes and ancient astronomy sets are a feast for the eyes, but the stunt work is what is to be admired here. Massive jumps, cartwheel backflips and some impressive bungee wirework make several of the fight scenes, even the one at the very beginning of the film fun to view, kudos to the stunt team for crafting several well executed stunts one after another.

As the film is fourteen years old, the CGI is pretty poor. It’s mainly confined to the middle of the film where stone statues in the aforementioned Cambodian temple come to life. The effects are pretty terrible; it’s so easy to see that the enemies have been put in post-production, even if the cast do a good job of fighting against thin air, hoping that some convincing enemies will be put in facing them.

In summary, not a great film, with only a few scenes, along with little nods to satisfy some diehard fans.

Score: 4/10 A pretty poor video game film, even if it is faithful to the source material.

Lara Croft: The Cradle Of Life

Angelina Jolie reprises her role as Lara Croft and is joined by Gerard Butler as former love interest Terry Sheridan, Ciaran Hinds as bad guy Jonathon Reiss, Djimon Honusou as friend/guide Kosa and Til Schweiger as Reiss’ sidekick, Sean. The directing chair this time has been moved over to Jan de Bont of SpeedEquilibrium and Die Hard fame. The Cradle of Life follows Lara once again trying to find a mythical artifact, this time Pandora’s Box, before Jonathan Reiss, a mad scientist/weapons manufacturer gets his hands on the evil that lays within the box.

The acting in the sequel is marginally better than the first. Jolie has dropped her plummy accent and it somehow makes her interpretation of the iconic character much better than in the first film. Everyone else seems to be doing rather good portrayals of their characters, with only Ciaran Hinds being over the top. But even when he is chewing the scenery, Jonathan Reiss is still believable character. Being a madcap scientist, it feels almost true to a character so mad that he would act like in the way he does.

Just like the first film, The Cradle of Life borrows a lot from its source material, and again, just like it’s predecessor, it copies certain chunks verbatim from console to screen. But as well as giving us some more stellar action sequences, the film also has a pretty good story, not just small talking sections between set pieces.

As Lara and Terry are former lovers, we get several scenes of them mentioning their past relationship, which serves to humanise our heroine instead of just painting her as an all-purpose badass who can take on anything, something which the first film seemed to revel in. No, in The Cradle of Life, Lara is bruised, beaten, falling back in love with a man she can’t trust and all the while, trying to stop a crazed man from ending the world. This conflict of emotions and feelings brings out the essence of what Lara Croft was designed as by her creator Toby Gard, the idea of “how far someone will go for their obsession,” and stepping over certain moral lines. What it gives us is someone heart-wrenching scenes where Lara is given two choices, and it’s very hard for her to choose the right one.

The stunts and action set pieces are some of the best put to film, and I don’t say that lightly. Gunfights that happen while sliding down ropes, motorbikes chases, as well as a spectacular wingsuit flight over Hong Kong are really fun to watch, and even better when you realise that shoddy CGI hasn’t been used for the bigger stunts.

That’s not to say CGI hasn’t been used. And its usage is pretty poor. The problem is the contrast. Either the background looks too washed out or the actor/actress does, making it abundantly clear when CGI has been used. It’s almost laughable that anyone approved such bad CGI as the shark that is used at the beginning of the film (that shark has become a meme of sorts in the Tomb Raider community) as well as Lara riding a motorbike along the Great Wall of China. The CGI is lessened the further the film goes on, with more reliance on practical stunt work, and the CGI even starts to get good at the end, with creepy shadow monsters looking halfway decent.

In summary, The Cradle Of Life is a film that builds on what worked in the first film, but has neglected to take out the things that didn’t work.

Score: 7/10 A very competent action film that still manages to deliver some humanity