It must be disheartening for a director when their movie comes off as unintentionally hilarious. Famous instances of this tragedy: Neil LaBute’s remake of the classic The Wicker Man and last year’s Jupiter Ascending had me rolling in the aisles with ridiculous dialogue and set pieces. Was there any intention to make these films so laughable? In the case of LaBute and the Wachowski Starship, I’m sure this campiness and cult film status (which is sure to come for Jupiter Ascending), wasn’t the full scope of how they wanted the film to be received. Heck, I think the Wachowskis wanted a trilogy, a totally baffling concept for those who have seen the movie. In the case of Alex Proyas’ new film Gods of Egypt, I think he only wanted it to be fun, not funny.
Proyas is a director that actually means a lot to me in my movie watching, being that his adaptation of The Crow was the first film that got me interested in the crafting of movies. Strange but true, Brandon Lee’s tragic final film was the catalyst for a lifelong obsession that would become my profession. So, that being said, I almost owe the Australian director for putting me on my current path. This isn’t to say I have enjoyed everything he has made nor am I a fanboy that hangs on his every movement in film. Since Dark City it has been quite the contrary and the trailer for Gods of Egypt left me feeling even more distant from the once visionary director.
The film follows Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a thief living in Ancient Egypt, doing what he can to provide for the love of his life Zaya (Courtney Eaton). Being mortals who live on the same plain of existence as the Gods, Bek and Zaya come from different belief systems. Zaya has an undying belief in them while Bek is more in the mindset of creating your own destiny. Everything is called into question on the day Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), son of Osiris, is to be crowned King of Egypt by his father (Bryan Brown).
During the ceremony, Horus’s uncle Set (Gerard Butler) returns from the desert, flouting his years-long banishment. There is a major reason Set has now returned and at such an opportune time: to destroy his brother and usurp the throne, plunging Egypt into a harsh rules where the remaining Gods are hunted down and made to comply with his rule or die and all the mortals are enslaved. Horus, the God of the sky, war, and hunting, is stripped of his sight and thrown into the tomb with his dead parents. Years later, it is up to Bek to steal back Horus’s eyes and join forces to destroy Set and the hold he has on Egypt.
For those who have seen the trailer and guffawed at how brutal the whole thing looks, as well as the glaring white washing that has already been called out, rest assured that the movie is just as terrible as you thought it would be. There’s no amount of Prometheus style cover up that could make a good trailer out of what the film contains. It is pure drivel to a horrible level and for many reasons that will constantly slap you in the face for an over two hour runtime that seems egregious.
The script in this movie is filled to the brim with horribly modern one liners, age old cliches and buddy action dialogue that will make you cringe so much that you might miss the majority of the movie. In turn, it makes everyone come off terribly, including the always fantastic Geoffrey Rush, who pays Ra, Horus’s grandfather. This great character actor is relegated to a single soundstage, as is most of this film, his area looking like an intergalactic pensioner’s retirement pad complete with an exercise bike looking contraption that looks like it powers the sun, or at least I think it does. This is unclear.
I also found myself completely baffled to how this film got by the director, producers and the studio with computer effects that looked as poorly as they did. It’s no secret that ninety five percent of this film was made on green screens and sound stages and there is no professional attempt to hide this. Even worse, in the bigger battle sequences between Coster-Waldau and Butler, the two Gods transform into their God-like forms, which are completely CG, and clash together like two badly formed and over glossy Transformers. It’s all so hilariously ridiculous.
It’s so unfortunate for such a promising and original director to make such a limp and listless fantasy action film that is sure to be lost in the whole controversy of putting a predominantly white cast in a film about ancient Egypt excluding the Blank Panther himself Chadwick Boseman, who is truly terrible in this, and Elodie Yung. Will we watch Gods of Egypt at the Rio Theatre in a cult sort of style in five to ten years? I highly doubt it as this film has absolutely zero staying power and may drift out of your ears like the computer generated sand this film throws in your face in 3D. I think Proyas needs an intervention as even Knowing was better than this pile of whatever it was. I give Gods of Egypt a one out of five.