Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites and Chadwick Boseman
Directed By: Alex Proyas
Running Time: 127 minutes
Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 Stars
The short voice over and quick crash course lesson in Gods, mortals, and other random nonsense populating “Gods of Egypt” in the first five minutes were definite signs for concerns. My worries about choosing the wrong movie to screen for the week began to come to fruition as I furrowed my brow at Set (Gerard Butler) spouting outrage over soap opera drama at Osiris (Bryan Brown) and being denied his inherent birthright by Ra (Geoffrey Rush) while Osiris’ son, Horus (Coster-Waldau) watches in shocking horror. Despite the visual theatrics, I immediately thought, “What the hell is happening?”
“Gods of Egypt” takes a while to settle into its own mythos, which is rubbish. There is a cause for concern about CGI heavy films in an ancient setting ever since the 2010 remake of “Clash of the Titans”. While “Clash of the Titans” used computer animation as a crutch for a lack of plot and acting, “Gods of Egypt” manages to blend the sword-and-sandal concept with child-like wonder through the CGI. It also helps that it never takes itself too seriously, allowing for small moments of seriousness to squeeze into the visual thrills and action set pieces.
I don’t mean to leave you hanging on what the hell this movie is about, because I assure you that it does pick-up after its bumbling beginning. Horus has his powers, which are his eyes, removed by his uncle, Set. Egypt goes from a civilization of peace to one dominated by war and slavery. The human, Bek (Thwaites), through the persuasion of his love in life, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), manages to steal one of Horus’ eyeballs and return it to the drunk and exiled God.
From that point on, Bek and Horus team up to get vengeance and restore some level of sanity (which seems like a useless word in a movie like this) to Egypt. There are more characters that show up and join Bek and Horus, but their introductions seem more natural because we’re not being bombarded with dozens of other characters all at once. Once “Gods of Egypt” has established the rules of its world, we’re able to follow along, relax, and enjoy the movie for what it is, dumb, shameful fun.
I feel a little guilty for liking this movie. Maybe that’s because it feels like such contemptible cash-in on the part of Lionsgate, even though they’re more than likely burning their earnings from “The Hunger Games” franchise on this one. Part of me doesn’t feel guilty though. The movies in the past that are very much like this, “Prince of Persia” and “Clash of the Titans” were actually attempting to cash-in on a different platform’s success or degrading it’s source material. “Gods of Egypt” is an original work and such ambition, even when it’s not necessarily very good, should be viewed in a different light as opposed to audacious remakes and reboots.
There is some Hollywood whitewashing and it does come at an inappropriate time, with the Oscars happening in the same weekend. Although, having Gerard Butler with a tan play an Egyptian God doesn’t feel as visually gross as Joel Edgerton plays Ramses II. That doesn’t excuse “Gods of Egypt” from lack of ethics, but like I said earlier, it’s shameful fun. The highest praise I can give “Gods of Egypt” is that it’s a decent waste of two hours, but I wouldn’t recommend you drop a single buck on this one.