Exhaustingly Silly and Serious: Our Review of ‘Gods of Egypt’

Posted in Movies, Theatrical by - February 26, 2016
Exhaustingly Silly and Serious: Our Review of ‘Gods of Egypt’

Eventually, after quite the slog, Gods of Egypt becomes tolerably self aware, recognizing the myriad absurdities that abound in this mythological lark. From a piece of boring pretension slowly morphs into something less boring, occasionally fun even, and indeed laughably silly.

Early complaints about white-washing aren’t really the issue – it exists yes, but in the film’s defense, they sought to make the Gods of ancient Egypt comically multicultural. There is after all a Dane, a Scot, a Brit, a few Aussies, a Parisian, and an African American, all competing with or against one another to reign supreme over the ancient world.

Unfortunately the film by Alex Proyas is a little too self-serious in its opening, as the ruling God steps down after a lengthy run of peace, handing the crown over to his more socialist son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), and not the seemingly outcast militant Set (Gerard Butler), Horus’ uncle, who never got his shot. The latter interrupts the party, dispatches his father and exiles his brother, enslaving the Egyptians and adding another accent to a film that has plenty.

Meanwhile, a thieving young man vows to make a better life for his beloved, and of course the only way to do that is to restore Horus to power. A buddy film mixes with a love story and revenge flick, with inconsistent special effects featuring giant cobras, a sphinx, winged heroes, a massive black hole monster, and a slew of other beasts.

Women serve to motivate and sass our heroes, as both Horus and the can-do Bek (Brendon Thwaites) are spurred by love, all the while making their journey across sand and swamp towards Set, who has set out to steal power from his fellow Gods.

It’s nowhere near as fantastical and creative as it might have you believe. While Gods of Egypt presents the divine as twice as tall as the mortals, and features them transforming into more powerful warriors, it stays imaginatively constrained.  Looking entirely like a film shot on a green screen with excess CGI, we’ve familiar portrays of the mythic, from creatures to sprawling vistas and massive battles.

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At least it becomes some fun, though indeed exhausting at over two hours of cheekiness and destruction. Bek and Horus have perfected the just-getting-out-of-the-way move, be it eking by with a jump or a dive past crumbling buildings, snapping jaws, felled axes, or rolling fire.

It seems Gods didn’t look ahead far enough when it began so seriously – it does have a bald Geoffrey Rush clad in white, wielding a massive scepter and residing on a ship in the middle of space regularly fighting a galactic beast. Makes sense, right?  Exposition and explanation litter the beginning, attempting to create some simplistic rules for the world but they get ignored later for the sake of convenience and drama – eyes and crowns and spears and bracelets and tokens can only sustain meaning for so long.

Not that it’s worth a lick of thought. Our leading men enjoying posturing, armored or shirtless, and Boseman in particular is enjoyable as an idiosyncratic god of Wisdom. Mindless, though hardly careless, Gods of Egypt  was better when it was Clash of the Titans, but they mythical, rugged adventures can’t all be so pleasurable.

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Anthony is a lover of a good story in any form, on any subject. Tirelessly navigating filmdom, he is equal parts an unbridled idealist and stubborn curmudgeon, trying to strike a balance between head and heart when it comes to pop culture. He pens stories about television, music, the environment, lifestyles, and all things noteworthy and peculiar.