The Film (4/5)
“Pff, I can do that.” – What I imagine Alex Proyas would have said when he saw 300.
Spoiler Alert: He was right.
Just a quick rundown on the story: Osiris (Brown) and Set (Butler) rule over Ancient Egypt with the other gods – all of whom live among the mortals. Osiris runs the bright, lush, cushy part; Set the dark, barren desert. However, when Osiris decides to retire and relinquish his crown to his son Horus (Coster-Waldeau), Set stages a coup, kills Osiris, blinds Horus, forces the lesser gods into submission and the mortals into slavery. But one of those mortals – Bek (Thwaites) – doesn’t really give two damns about The Gods and is instead focused only on rescuing his fiancé (Eaton) from slavery. So he sets out to steal Horus’ eye back so the two can kill Set and set everything right again.
And that’s the basic set up. The formula isn’t anything revelatory; Horus has to embark on his Hero’s Journey, Bek has to learn to trust the Gods’ role in the world (and the Gods have to learn to accept Bek – and humanity as a whole - as more than just ‘mere mortals’), and from word one you know exactly where these characters are going to end up. But you know that old saying about destinations and journeys. And it’s a good journey!
Character/cast chemistry is high, everybody is having a blast, the script is solid (if a little shallow), the design and effects work is top-shelf stuff – there’s really not a single big complaint to be made. There are, however, a couple of little things that are at the very least worth mentioning. I do wish the women were given a little more to do than serve the men’s narrative (and in one case sacrifice herself just to help them), and it’s definitely a little side-eye worthy to see a whole bunch of white people running around Ancient Egypt. You could make the argument that it’s not quite as egregious as, say, Ridley Scott’s Exodus, by virtue of it not having any pretense of being rooted in history at all, but still, eh.
All of that said though, it’s still a super fun movie that does exactly what it sets out to do and does it really well.
Gorgeous; it’s 2.40:1 1080p with a DTS:X track as well as an optional 2.0 DTS Optimized for Late-Night Listening. It sounds glorious and it looks even better. I made the 300 comparison earlier, but that’s not entirely apt – while Snyder’s film had the look and feel of a soundstage brought to life in post-production (in other words very artificial), Proyas’ so-called ‘Planet Egypt’ feels real and whole and completely actualized. And for a film that covers a lot of ground (and space), it does an exceptional job of making sure every environment feels as natural as the one that came before. I don’t know if I’d give it the honor of calling it a Demo Disc, but if you did I don’t think anyone would argue with you. In fact, I’d be surprised if you didn’t start seeing this on display walls in big-box stores all over the place come release.
There are some deleted scene storyboards (though they’re more like pre-vis scenes), and one in particular was compelling enough in the pre-vis stage that I’m a little bummed it didn’t make the final cut.
Other than that there are a handful of featurettes that cover the various stages of production. They’re well-made and interesting and it’s obvious everyone is having a grand old time with everything, but it’s a little weird that they’re broken up into separate featurettes, when it’s obvious they were shot and produced as a single package. Sure it makes them easier to digest, so that’s not a complaint, but it’s a noticeable thing.
It’s a fun movie that anyone who likes fun movies will enjoy. There’s just enough on its mind that it doesn’t fall in the “shut your brain off” category, but its primary focus is – again – telling a fun story in a big, fun way. Is it something to *own*? That’s a little harder to say, but I would heartily recommend at the very least renting it and spending a Saturday afternoon with it.