ABOUT THE WRITER: As a writer and journalist, Alex Dunn loves learning and writing about the world around him.
Gods of Egypt was never foreseen to break any new grounds, which is why people could be forgiven for thinking it was just there to make money, instead of educating audiences on any part of Egyptian mythology that can’t be found in video games.
Based (loosely) on Egyptian mythology, the gods are nine-foot benevolent rulers, with Osiris as the king of the fertile part of Egypt. His son, Horus (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is next in line, but Set (played by Gerard Butler) usurps the throne and steals Horus’s eyes during the coronation. In the mortal forum, Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is a common thief, who escapes from enslavement (a bit too easily), and helps Horus to defeat Set, and restore order to Egypt.
The movie plods along at a pursuable pace, enough to keep anyone’s eyes fed. There are times when the film gets visually exciting, but sadly there is not enough exposition or even drama to compensate for a somewhat forgettable storyline. The characters become semi-developed with interesting stories, but the reactions are weak given the character’s history.
Gerard Butler dominates the screen as militant King Set, akin to his performance as King Leonidas, however, the poorly detailed war sequences and overuse of CGI, give the audiences either a beautiful static shot of Egypt or a debatable fly-over of oil-painted tropics. Many of the close-up action sequences are similar to 300 and are at times a nauseating mix of flailing cinematography and shonky animation. This is most noticeable when Horus fights some bull-people (Minotaur’s are Greek).
While Bek is portrayed as the weakest of the main characters, he seems to be one of the only characters worth caring about in the film. Not because he was always in legitimate danger, but because his intentions actually belong more in a myth instead of a daytime soap opera. Another strong character is Hathor (Elodie Yung), who Horus saved from eternal service in the underworld.
The film does hit its own high note with visual grandeur and is fairly interesting during the plot points. For the most part, it plays out like a genuine surreal myth, but the chariot runs amok when Ra (Geoffrey Rush) is introduced on a literal spaceship and fighting a worm. Surreal indeed. The charm of this film is the ‘Think and You’ll Miss it’ effect, no artsy intellectual padding or boring morals, just rampant ludicrous fun. If only it dropped the serious vibe, it could be a cult classic.
To address the elephant in the room, Egypt appears to lack something quite distinct, Egyptian people. The film opens its hand to a few lesser known stars, but couldn’t they be replaced with actors who actually are of Egyptian descent? Or at least, look Egyptian? It looks like the exclusively Caucasian section of the Beautiful People’s Association did a performance based on Egyptian mythology. By the end of the film, accents are dropped and everyone speaks either in a British or Scottish accent. Come on Hollywood! You had the same issue with an Egypt-based film two years ago!
Gods of Egypt provides an insight into how little people know (or care) about Egyptian mythology. It’s a bit campy, but the entertainment lies in the unhinged escapism. Watch it on Netflix, and possibly make a little ‘The Room-style’ interactive audience game from it.