Directed by Alex “Go Directly to Movie Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200” Proyas
Gods of Egypt is Clash of the Titans for ADD kids that spent the whole time in Mythology class playing Warcraft on their iPhones.
Somehow the once promising director of Dark City has made the ultimate Ray Harryhausen movie for the Minecraft generation: a soulless, nonsensical, $140 million mythological misadventure featuring the finest special effects from the year 1999. Much controversy has been made of Gods of Egypt‘s white-centric casting, but if you ask me, I’d say that’s the least of this ill-conceived on nearly every level film’s problems. The miscasting frequently made for the most entertaining moments.
I doubt I will see anything funnier than the moment Bryan Brown first appeared on the screen, looking like an aging surfer dude in King Friday’s wardrobe, even rocking a scraggly soul patch. This is the Egyptian god Osiris?
There was something almost as funny: Geoffrey Rush as the sun god Ra, looking like Obi-Wan Chemotherapy, floating around in space on an open barge, suddenly morphing into a 30-foot flaming Human Torch Pope so that he can fire-staff zap a giant black cloud worm with scolex teeth that keeps trying to eat our world.
For those who have been screaming for months about the film’s whitewashing, you’re going to love that scene at the end when an all-black crowd of peasants drop to their knees and cheer for their Caucasian god-king. It’s as if the filmmakers heard your complaints and decided to give you one final middle finger.
The actual gods of Egypt live amongst the mortals they rule, functioning as just that – living gods. All the god characters appear to be between 10-15 feet tall, meaning they are brought to life using reverse Hobbitization visual effects. This is actually one of the few intriguing ideas in the word salad script from the writers of Dracula Untold and The Last Witch Hunter (Oof!) as well as one of the only consistently convincing special effects in a movie that is almost nothing but iffy special effects.
Gerard Butler, with what in Dungeons & Dragons could only be described as a +6 spray-on tan, hams it up as the Egyptian god Set as if he were a WWEgypt wrestler opening this week’s edition of “Monday Night Ra” by waltzing out to the ring to proclaim himself the one true Mesopotamian champion and let it be known that the audience should bow down before him because his “fertile crescent” is much bigger than theirs.
Set’s motivations boil down to an acute case of “Loki Syndrome.” He also wants to be immortal. What’s that, you ask? Aren’t gods immortals? Not these gods. They can die, and their blood type is gold, or as it is more commonly referred to in the medical community, Trump Positive. The climax left me wondering how Set was going to gain what he wanted by doing what he did; not that it would have probably mattered anyway since the script completely contradicts itself by doing at least three different things we were told earlier would not be possible.
Evil Leonidas crashes a coronation with the help of Xerxes’ Immortals, their armor now refurbished with an Iron Man paint job. I think Set may have secretly raided the Marvel Universe at some point because there’s also a battle scene in which he wears a helmet that looks like the Green Goblin’s scalp from Raimi’s Spider-Man.
Watching Set murder his father and steal his King of the Ring crown doesn’t sit well with egotistical babyface deity Bret “The Hitman” Horus (Coster-Waldau, aka a Lannister who is going to owe a lot of debts after this debacle). Not even turning into a gold-plated version of Soaron from the old “Captain Powers and the Soldiers of the Future” series proves enough to defeat Set in his “Mecha-Goldar” mode, and thus Horus gets his eyes torn out the same way the wicked queen on “Once Upon a Time” rips out hearts.
Because none of the producers got the memo that the Prince of Persia movie was a colossal flop, they insisted that the film’s mortal hero be a British boy band version of said character. After Set enslaves Egypt, handsome young thief Bek (Thwaites) sets about to save his one true love and Horus Fan Club President-for-Life, Zaya (Eaton), from the clutches of a Set-friendly master builder portrayed by all-purpose movie villain and 2002 World Sneering Champion Rufus Sewell.
Doing so entails Bek stealing back one of Horus’ eyes from Set’s vault of Harry Potter meets Saw puzzle death traps, which he does rather easily. Alas, Zaya gets killed during the getaway, and now Gods of Egypt turns into a dreadfully mismatched buddy flick with plucky lovesick puppy Bek agreeing to help arrogant one-eyed god Horus free Egypt and the afterlife from Set’s tyrannical rule and death taxes in exchange for bringing dimwitted Zaya back from the land of the dead before she fails to pay the afterlife toll tax and gets turned into yet more pixels. Cue lots of snappy banter, often in the sense that it made me want to snap their necks for being so damn irritating.
Their clash of the Pharaohs will require the assistance of several other gods, including the previously mentioned Ra; Horus’ girlfriend and current Set concubine Hathor, the goddess of love; and the prissy god of wisdom, Thoth. Mostly they just engage in an endless stream of video game set pieces. So much leaping to and from varying dangers, tussling with digital bad guys, narrowly avoiding crumbling structures, getting chased by the giant serpents from Dragon Wars (more leaping), solving the riddle of the Sphinx (more crumbling), and did I mention all the leaping and crumbling?
On the positive side, Elodie Yung has some fun playing the bewitching Hathor. I rather wish the writers had left Horus to mope about blindly in his tomb while Hathor and Bek set out to save their loved ones since they actually played off one another quite well in the few scenes they shared.
I need to mention that Hathor must wear a magic bracelet at all times, or else hordes of demon hands from the netherworld will drag her through a portal and, I guess, finger her for all eternity. It doesn’t make much sense, but then it’s really an excuse to set up something for a sequel I think we can all pretty much agree is never going to happen.
Another positive is Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, though I’m not sure he would agree. Boseman gives the kind of performance you only get when an actor realizes he’s made a dreadful mistake and just says “screw it.” Total camp. Much needed camp, if you ask me.
For a movie that is almost non-stop action, Gods of Egypt offers little by way of actual thrills or adventure. Every scene feels as if it has been calibrated solely to lead to the next bit of computer-generated overkill. Even when they’re not setting up a CGI set piece, there’s obvious animation permeating every corner of the screen. The wrong movie was titled Pixels. I found myself merely staring at the screen, neither bored by nor engaged with much of anything I was seeing. When it was over, I felt next to nothing; and I suspect once I finish writing this review, I’ll never think about it ever again. Not good enough to excite nor enjoyably bad enough to achieve camp classic status, much like poor Zaya, Gods of Egypt is stuck somewhere between life and death with not enough to offer. Sorry, no immortality for you. Just movie oblivion.
One last thing. Based on the view from space it appears our world is indeed flat. Up yours, Neil deGrasse Tyson!