Hollywood is notorious for creating sequels and rebooting old franchises. Taking a risk on a new intellectual property can be the death knell of a movie studio. Only large studios can afford to even attempt such grand leaps in investment. So now we have something possibly NOT a rip off but a new intellectual property. It is good to take calculated risks in life. If you create something new, do it with passion and forethought.
Gods of Egypt by Lionsgate Entertainment hits theaters in less than ten days. Other than a few trailers no one has any idea what the movie is about. You can see for yourself action and handsome men and fair ladies abound in this tale.
So from this preview we know Gerard Butler plays Egyptian God Set who has taken over Egypt from Horus played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. The story is about the struggle for Egypt’s throne and these two play the main title characters. I really like this idea…
But only if they played Norse, Greek, Roman or even Celtic Gods in a different land. Yup this is bad casting. If you are telling a tale of Egypt you need to have Egyptians or someone who looks Egyptian play the main roles. Tons of talent exist out there who could carry this movie. I have to call this one like it is. This really makes me sad for the movie as I like both actors. Both excel in playing strong male leads.
For right now this has set my mind with preconceived notions. These thoughts consist of this whole universe is not believable. At all. The main goal of any movie is to get you to believe in the world it creates. By ignoring this main goal you you defeat the whole purpose of creating a movie. To take you somewhere magical, yet real enough that you believe, down inside of you that it is real. This main goal is also applied to fantasy and science fiction. You have to make a world believable. When you choose, CHOOSE to get an audience to BELIEVE in a world that exists NOW (you can look Egypt up on a map RIGHT NOW!), you take on a HUGE responsibility. This means you get the casting done right. You actually go to Egypt and view the land. You need to do your homework to make it right. This includes getting the casting right. Yes it was set long ago. But the people who populated the land still exists there.
I want to see this movie but this detail is a strike against it. Mainly for the fact neither one of the main leads is believable as a person of direct Egypt descent. Gods should represent the people they rule, an amalgam of different skin colors, mental states of minds and ideas.
Other leads in the movie include Elodie Yung playing Hathor a Goddess of Love. Yes this casting works. FYI she plays Elektra for Daredevil Season 2 on Netflix. But a stronger casting could be made.
Brenton Thewaites plays Bek, a thief of legend. Again this feels hard to swallow as a realistic character. Poor casting choice, not because of skin color, but the look and feel of a hardened thief. If you are a legendary thief, something needs to be in your face or demeanor noting this. A cocky swagger which shows.
This is not that face.
We will move on to another character, Thoth God of Wisdom played by Chadwick Boseman. I want to say this is a good choice, but sadly this does not work either. Why? Too young and well you want a god of wisdom and magic to be MUCH older. Right now I do not feel any of the casting works. It seemed like they approaches this project, not to whitewash it, but to seriously not care about the mythology or source material. If you wanted to dump on Egyptian Mythology in a big budget movie, this is one way to do that.
Geoffrey Rush plays Ra, a HUGE deity in Egyptian culture. THE sun god. Again, I love this actor, but do you want a pirate for a sun god? Seriously?
The main plot consists of Horus losing his eyes to Set and the throne of Egypt in a battle. Bek, thief of legend steals the eyes back and we all know what happens next. No, they do not set up a party barge on the Nile and dance all night long. (That would make a better ending by far.)
I want to see more original ideas come out of Hollywood. But this idea falls flat on its face in the preview alone. I cannot get past the casting and action packed nonsense to even care about the characters, story arc, or anything else really. The CGI looks cool but further counts against the suspended belief factor which barely exists in the first place. This movie’s preview turned me off. And that is sad, because I like most of the actors in it.
One of the producers and film director is none other than Alex Proyas, who worked on I Robot and The Crow. A director with these films under his belt should know better. This movie might sink his career down further than N. Night Shyamalan.
We do need original movies in Hollywood. Original good movies, not poorly cast ones filled with lots of stars but no heart.
Oh, Lionsgate responded to the whole casting decision last week on Forbes.
Alex Proyas: “The process of casting a movie has many complicated variables, but it is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse. I sincerely apologize to those who are offended by the decisions we made.”
Honestly I am not offended because you “whitewashed” the movie. It be because it is EGYPT and well you did not actually cast anyone who looks like they are from the region!
Elham Wagdi Egyptian Actress and Miss Egypt 2009
Exhibit B: Amr Waked an Egyptian Actor
Lionsgate: ”We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
James Gunn who directed Guardians of the Galaxy just commented on the success of Deadpool and it rings true. I feel this applies directly to this movie here.
“After every movie smashes records people here in Hollywood love to throw out the definitive reasons why the movie was a hit. I saw it happen with Guardians. It “wasn’t afraid to be fun” or it “was colorful and funny” etc etc etc. And next thing I know I hear of a hundred film projects being set up “like Guardians,” and I start seeing dozens of trailers exactly like the Guardians trailer with a big pop song and a bunch of quips. Ugh.
Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.
Deadpool wasn’t that. Deadpool was its own thing. THAT’S what people are reacting to. It’s original, it’s damn good, it was made with love by the filmmakers, and it wasn’t afraid to take risks.
For the theatrical experience to survive, spectacle films need to expand their definition of what they can be. They need to be unique and true voices of the filmmakers behind them. They can’t just be copying what came before them.
So, over the next few months, if you pay attention to the trades, you’ll see Hollywood misunderstanding the lesson they should be learning with Deadpool. They’ll be green lighting films “like Deadpool” – but, by that, they won’t mean “good and original” but “a raunchy superhero film” or “it breaks the fourth wall.” They’ll treat you like you’re stupid, which is the one thing Deadpool didn’t do.
But hopefully in the midst of all this there will be a studio or two that will take the right lesson from this – like Fox did with Guardians by green-lighting Deadpool – and say – “Boy, maybe we can give them something they don’t already have.”
Go see this movie on Feb 26th and let me know how it is. I personally will not step foot in the theater to support this movie. I know Lionsgate makes excellent films. But I highly doubt this film will be among those due to aforementioned reasons above.
Next time get some independent feedback when you launch a new intellectual property. Casting can make or break a movie. If you want to see casting done right, look at Star Wars The Force Awakens.