“Gods of Egypt”, screened in Egypt under the title “Kings of Egypt” because … you know, is an American-Australian movie, made at the cost of 140 Million Dollars, to tell a story based on the Pharaonic mythology of Osiris, Set and Horus. In this depiction, Osiris,the king of Egypt, is overthrown by his evil brother Set on the day of the coronation of his son Horus. Horus, having lost his eyes in the battle against Set, resorts to solitude only to be tracked down by Bek who seeks the help of the lawful monarch to resurrect his wife Zaya in return for helping him regaining his eyes and his throne.
“Gods of Egypt” held some potential. It belongs to the fantasies genre and it deals with the Egyptian side of ancient myths, rather than the abused Greek one. Being Egyptian myself, I can guarantee you that Pharaonic mythology is a great source of entertaining stories where symbolism plays the key role. It also enables for exciting adventures and I always imagined how a capable studio can bring of those stories to life. However, what we get here is far from entertainment and excitement.
What we get is an over the top adventure soaked in layers and layers of special effects all coloured in gold and fire. For a budget of 140 Million Dollars (Deadpool was only made for 58), it’s disappointing how the action sequences were clumsy and how the general feel of chroma manipulation is hard to ignore on every scene. Confined in its small shallow scope, the storyline is sort of confusing. I stepped in the movie theatre not expecting an advanced screenplay or an inspiring story. I just wanted to watch some nicely designed beasts, some exhilarating action and a few cool moments of comedy. I got none of that, and I lost track of the story at some point.
I don’t believe the movie required that many characters and that many conflicts. Again, I wasn’t expecting much. Only one quest by a broken protagonist, an unlikely partnership if you can’t help yourself, versus a worthy villain would’ve been sufficient.
I have studied the source myth at school, and I always felt that Set is a very interesting villain. He’s driven by his jealousy of his brother and he strives for power in a cruel deadly manner. In the opening chapters of the film, I only perceived him as a weary traveller who’s longing for a fluffy bed! I couldn’t see his ambitions because the movie never introduced his plans. Only after being so invested in the desperate, uninteresting, love story of Bek and Zaha, Set emerged with a very cool plan. One that could’ve worked as the main plotline, or even as an element of proactivity for a rather, poorly, reactive villain for the most part of the film.
As for Horus, I never felt that he really cared about that whole thing a single bit more than Nikolaj Coster-Waldau cared about the movie. Horus was lazy and cold even in being manipulative to achieve his goals. He decided on his plan only for the lack of a better way to spend his time, and when the movie forced him into the act of his own redemption, the act where he loses a lot before bouncing back to becoming a contender, he was ever colder.
The movie involves a rather interesting cast who probably made the easiest money of their career delivering poor performances, jogging a bit and then handing the action to their beast like figures where the CGI has to play most of the cards. I would understand why someone like Gerard Butler and Coster-Waldau would want to make a movie like this because .. well, what else are they going to work on?! I would also understand the temptation of making a big movie appearance, and a few bucks, in return for 1 or 2 days of filming, for someone like Geoffrey Rush. However, the reason why Chadwick Boseman would want to appear in a supporting role in such a movie is beyond me.
“Gods of Egypt” is directed by Alex Proyas who also directed “The Crow” in 1994 and “I, Robot” in 2004. His creative vision for the world where the film takes place imagines gods living among mortals, only distinguished by how large they are in size, the fact that they bleed gold, and that they can transform themselves into animal like monsters. The transformations were cool and that bleeding thing didn’t matter much, but the size differences were both unsuccessfully challenging and hilarious at the same time. Those are giant gods among much shorter people, and not in a Game of Thrones creepily colossal kind of way. It rather felt like a laptop screen extending half of its display to a mobile screen.
It appears to me that Mr. Proyas didn’t learn a single lesson from Ridley Scott’s “Exodus”. He still believed that ancient Egypt is best imagined through mansions surrounded by desert and he thought that a mixture of Danish, Australian and Scottish actors can pass for good Egyptians. He might’ve had an interesting vision for the afterlife in Egyptian mythology, one that is not fair, but interesting nonetheless. Yet it doesn’t account for much when you see the movie failing at everything, including the safe bet of comedy, where a number of ridiculously oversized gods needed to make fun of their own adventures.
I couldn’t have fun watching “Gods of Egypt”, it is a movie that my day would’ve done fine without. I never enjoyed the company of a screaming, out of his lungs, Mr. Gerard Butler yet I can honestly say that he was just as hard to tolerate as everybody else. The creative vision was poor, the action was confusing, and the characters were needlessly numerous. As far as I’m concerned, ancient Egyptian mythology remains an untapped cinematic ground where much better can be done.