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Nutshell: Can something be awful and amazing at the same time? Well, Gods of Egypt is certainly giving it its best shot. With crazy action scenes, a nutso plot, and CGI that feels like the SyFy channel and 1999’s The Mummy had a lovechild of doom, this film tries for Glorious Epic and comes off 50s Throwback. And I haven’t even started on my #GodsSoWhite rant yet. Bumping this up half a grade for its sheer balls, and for Geoffrey Rush’s weird fishtail braid. Grade: C-
Nope, that quote above isn’t from Winnie the Pooh. Well okay, it is. But it’s also here in Gods of Egypt. And not only is it spoken by one of the “Gods”, it’s probably what every member of the cast and crew thought to themselves once the reality of this movie really set in. But hey, everyone’s got a mortgage that needs to be paid, amirite?
Director Alex Proyas seems determined to complete the downward spiral he’s started after his work on 1994’s brilliant Brandon Lee superhero flick The Crow. I, Robot, the glorious Nick Cage magnum opus Knowing, and now this…movie. Gods of Egypt is like the world’s craziest D&D campaign run amok, where the DM has taken the rule book, the mythos for the world, and any semblance of coherence, and chucked ’em all out the window. But if you’re ready to settle in — after a few beers or better yet, several shots of the strongest liquor in your cabinet (something white, to set the mood) — I’ll dig a bit deeper so you know what you’ll be getting yourself into.
Gods of Egypt is about the god Osiris, (played by Australian actor Bryan Brown) who wants to retire from his kingly duties and pass them on to his son Horus (played by Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau)…but instead his brother Set (played by Scottish actor Gerard Butler) takes the throne by force. So it’s up to Horus — with a little help from human/Egyptian citizen/thief Bek (played by Austrailan actor Brenton Thwaites) to fix things. But Bek’s girlfriend Zaya (played by Australian actress Courtney Eaton) has died in an escape attempt, so Hathor (played by French/Cambodian actress Elodie Yung, the only POC in the main cast) — on the run from Set, and still pining for Horus — joins in the battle/search/epic quest because why not.
Oh, and great-grandfather god Ra (played by British actor Geoffrey Rush) is up in his space chariot
stolen from Jupiter Rising, fighting Apophis, a huge chaos sandworm/floating sarlacc. (Note: that’s one of the rare tidbits of actual Egyptian mythology in this flick.) Wonder if that worm is gonna touch down in Egypt before the two hours and seven minute sands of this movie’s time run out? Um, are you new?
I was really rooting for this movie. I hoped that once I sat down, the Curious Case Of The Caucasians In The Egyptian Pantheon would be solved for me, and I’d breathe a sigh of relief. But no sighs given. Well, none of relief, anyway. Don’t get me wrong; Egypt is bobast-tastic. The gold, the (CGI) grandeur, the pomp and pompous circumstance of it all; it’s a feast any MST3K fan would love to sink her teeth into. Because it makes no sense, and is two hours of characters running around, searching for things, and/or killing things. You could add the Pac-Man soundtrack to this film, and it’d probably make more sense. It shore is purty tho’. Shiny!
And about that casting. Whitey McWhiterson. Casting directors Nikki Barrett and John Papsidera should be ashamed of themselves. No wait — I see a black dude that has actual dialogue! Good on them. But just the one though. (That’s Chadwick Boseman, from 42, soon to be the lead in Marvel’s Black Panther. And his knowingly droll, deadpan performance as Thoth, the Egyptian god of knowledge, is the best part of this whole mess.)
Come for the gigantic fire-breathing cobras. Stay because you’re glued in your seat, flabbergasted by the fact that in 2016 there’s a new film that has an all-white cast surrounded by POC “slaves”. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Particularly in Hollywood, it seems.