Press "Enter" to skip to content

Review: Gods of Egypt (2016)

Gods of Egypt (2016)

Directed by: Alex Proyas

Premise: Set in a fantastical version of ancient Egypt, the gods live among human beings as royalty. Set (Gerard Butler) violently overtakes the throne and it is up to Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and a mortal (Brenton Thwaits) to defeat him.
What Works: There’s a lot wrong with Gods of Egypt but that’s generally not the fault of the actors who do what they can with the material. Gods of Egypt is led by Brenton Thwaits as an Aladdin-like street urchin who lives in poverty with his girlfriend, played by Courtney Eaton. Thwaits is likable and brings some personality to a predictable story and he and Eaton are a watchable romantic couple. The villain of Gods of Egypt is played by Gerard Butler and he gives a full throated performance that creates some gravitas in what is often a silly movie.

What Doesn’t: Gods of Egypt is an example of how an interesting idea can be ruined by bad execution. Ancient Egyptian mythology has storylines and characters that could be made into a compelling movie. Unfortunately, just about every aspect of this film is terrible. As with most bad movies, its terribleness is rooted in the script. Fantasy stories require some internal logic that makes the world understandable. Gods of Egypt doesn’t have that. The metaphysics and the geographical layout of this story world are unclear as are the relationships between the many characters. Gods of Egypt centers upon a human who gets mixed up in the royal drama of the gods. He’s trying to save the woman he loves from damnation and he teams up with the deposed god Horus in order to do that. This is not such a bad premise but everything that happens between the setup and the climax is a series of disconnected events; the story never escalates and the characters are never developed. Action set pieces break out on the regular but it is all so boring. Horus, played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, is remarkably like Thor of Marvel’s Avengers movies and Gods of Egypt repeats a lot of the basic story mechanics of the first Thor film. But Horus is not interesting at all. Where Thor began as a petulant brat and gradually learned to be a hero, Horus has no character arc. Gods of Egypt also fails to do anything interesting with Thwaits’ character; the film attempts to make something of his disregard for the gods but because the gods are real people, not abstractions, his faith in them has no meaning. Aside from its many script problems, Gods of Egypt frequently looks terrible. The locations and many of the creatures of this movie are nearly all computer generated and Gods of Egypt has the plastic, video game aesthetic of fantasy movies like Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace and Prince of Persia. The style of God of Egypt is obnoxious and frequently absurd, never more so than in the scenes of violence. As is often the case in these digital battle fields, there’s no peril to any of the action and in an attempt to secure the PG-13 rating the filmmakers resort to ludicrous visuals; the gods bleed liquid gold and when a human being is struck in the heart with an arrow and the blade is wrenched out of her chest there isn’t even a single drop of blood. One of the frequent criticisms of Gods of Egypt, even before its release, was its almost entirely Caucasian cast. And that is true; nearly everyone in this movie is white. Racial underrepresentation is a widespread problem throughout Hollywood but it’s less egregious in Gods of Egypt at least in the casting of the god characters since they are supernatural beings. But the white washing in this movie extends to the supporting roles and even to the extras in the crowd scenes. For a movie that takes place in Egypt there is hardly anyone of African or Middle Eastern descent.

Bottom Line: Gods of Egypt is reminiscent of John Carter and the remake of Clash of the Titans. It is a bland piece of fantasy moviemaking that is alternately obnoxious and dull.

Episode: #585 (March 6, 2016)