GODS OF EGYPT (USA/12A/127mins)
Directed by Alex Proyas. Starring Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Geoffrey Rush, Elodie Yung, Gerard Butler.
THE PLOT: In a fantasy version of ancient Egypt, where the world is flat, gods walk among men and almost everyone is white, the god Set (Gerard Butler) turns on the other side of his family, murdering his brother Osiris (Bryan Brown) and blinding his nephew Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), in order to take control of Egypt and enslave humanity. With the help of the tenacious mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites), Horus regains one of his eyes and sets out to not only regain his full vision, but unseat his evil uncle from the throne of Egypt.
THE VERDICT: ‘Gods of Egypt’ is released in Irish cinemas this week, and has already been the cause of two bouts of controversy; the ‘white washing’ of the cast as highlighted by Daily Life and The Washington Post, and director Alex Proyas’ rant on Facebook calling critics “diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass”. Not a good start.
The cast of the film, which includes Nikolaj-Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Gerard Butler, Rufus Sewell, Elodie Yung and Rachael Blake, do not do particularly well in their roles but they find a middle ground for their characters to exist in, which is neither particularly good or terribly bad. The exceptions to this are Geoffrey Rush who has a whale of a time playing a camped up version of the sun god Ra – but is sadly only on screen for mere minutes – and Chadwick Boseman, whose performance as Thoth, god of wisdom, is so utterly one note and bland that he stands out for all the wrong reasons.
Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless took their inspiration from the Egyptian myth ‘The Contendings of Horus and Set’, then set this in a world where gods and men walked the earth together. There is merit to the story in its basic form, but in trying to make ‘Gods of Egyp’t an action film, all strength of this mythical tale are lost. Add to this some ill-advised attempts at humour, dreadful dialogue and too much reliance on action, and Gods of Egypt quickly falls flat.
As director, Alex Proyas seems to have set out to make ‘Transformers’ in ancient Egypt. Gods regularly suit up in animal shaped armour and take each other on in CGI fuelled battles that the audience struggles to engage with. Sound familiar? The performances in the film seem to be wilfully mediocre, with Proyas seemingly taking no interest in the characters and relying on action. As well as this, the film is poorly paced, badly edited and is so filled with CGI that it becomes a shiny assault on the senses.
In all, ‘Gods of Egypt’ is an ill-advised attempt to tell an ancient tale in a glittering CGI-filled movie. This is not an attempt to “peck to the rhythm of the consensus” as Alex Proyas so charmingly put it; ‘Gods of Egypt’ is entirely misguided. The characters are thin and underdeveloped – with the exception of Geoffrey Rush, who saves the movie from being utterly unwatchable – the screenplay is filled with bad dialogue and misguided attempts at humour, and the entire thing is tied in a dark, undistinguishable CGI bow.
Review by Brogen Hayes

Gods of Egypt
Review by Brogen Hayes
1.0CGI chaos!
  • filmbuff2011

    Gods Of Egypt arrives on these shores with its reputation preceding it. Having bombed spectacularly in the US back in February, it quickly disappeared off the Irish release schedule. There was talk that it would go direct-to-DVD here instead. But lo and behind… here it is on our cinema screens, placed more suitably in a summer slot. Can it really be that bad?

    In ancient Egypt, the gods walk among mere mortals. Much taller than mortals, they command respect. Osiris (Bryan Brown – where’s he been recently?) rules in peace and crowns his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) king. However, Osiris’ evil brother Set (Gerard Butler) has other ideas. Viewing peace as a wimpy thing for fools, he dispatches his father and then tries to seize power by killing Horus. He fails, but Horus is exiled and watches as Set takes control of Egypt and rules with absolute power. A chance encounter with thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) gives Horus the chance to confront Set and end his evil reign once and for all. Setting out with fellow God and Set’s mistress Hathor (Elodie Yung), Horus and Bek go on a wild adventure through otherworldly dimensions…

    First off, Gods Of Egypt is undeniably a bad film. The story, by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless, is a confused mess with much of it incomprehensible. It’s far too ambitious for its own good and the bigger they are, the harder they fall. This film falls on its face and eats dirt pretty quickly. And that’s all in the first few minutes. The remaining two hours are overblown to the point of exhaustion. Egyptian-born but Australian-raised director Alex Proyas (The Crow, Knowing) really just doesn’t know when to stop. Overcooked direction from Proyas ensures that it becomes a CGI-laden sensory overload, even in 2D. One almost wants to pause the film, reach into it and tell Proyas to lay off on the frantic music video-editing and blaring, overbearing Marco Beltrami score. Shot entirely in Australia, the film has a very artificial look about it. This is a fantasy Egypt bearing no resemblance to the real place. The budget is certainly there onscreen, all $140m of it. It varies from looking lavish and spectacular to looking cheap, with the CGI creatures being the worst (though the giant fire-breathing cobras are kinda cool).

    Featuring not one Egyptian actor, the accusations of whitewashing are well founded. But we’re used to that in these types of fantasy / swords-and-sandals epics (e.g. Charlton Heston as a Spaniard). It was presumably a commercial decision, but it hasn’t helped the film’s reputations. Most of the actors look lost amid the CGI excess, with Butler reducing to bellowing threats most of the time and Coster-Waldau playing a thin variation on Jaime Lannister (and looking like he’d rather be back on the Game Of Thrones set too). The one saving grace is a bizarre appearance from Geoffrey Rush as sun God Ra. Proyas must be a fan of Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, as his film also features an outer-space battle where humans can breathe and there’s wind… Yes, wind in space. D’oh!

    For all its obvious faults, there’s something undeniably fun about Gods Of Egypt. Its over-the-top campiness and unintentional humour becomes a badge of (dis)honour for it, so one could see it becoming a midnight movie favourite. It’s so bad that it’s actually good, unlike the truly appalling Mother’s Day last week. It’s hard not to be swept along by it and just enjoy for what it is, while laughing at this great cinematic folly. How it ever got released or even made in the first place is a mystery, but it’s frequently hilarious. That’s not a recommendation by any means, but fans of bad cinema like this reviewer might get a kick out of it. **