Here’s the review you’ve all be waiting for…
First things first. This isn’t the worst film ever made.
Brenton Thwaites (The Giver, Oculus) is Bek, a young thief who steals a dress for his girlfriend Zaya (Courtney Eaton, Cheedo The Fragile from Mad Max: Fury Road) to attend the coronation of a new King of Egypt. Osiris (Bryan Brown of those old Citroen adverts) is abdicating and has named his son as successor; Horus, played by Nikolas Coster-Waldau (probably best known for his small role in that Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels TV spin-off and a slightly larger role in something called Game Of Thrones)
The ceremony is gate-crashed by Set (Gerard Butler in full-on Gerard Butler mode) the uncle of Horus and brother of Osiris. He attacks and kills his brother, and demands the collected Gods bow to him, or they will be killed as well. Horus fights against his father’s killer, but is beaten down, and has his eyes plucked out. As Set is about to kill Horus, Hathor (Elodie Yung, who played Elektra in the most recent season of Daredevil) the Goddess of Love, begs for his life, and Horus is spared. Set then proclaims himself King Of Egypt, and that the people will have to earn their way into the afterlife through the riches they have earned.
A year later, Horus is in exile, and Set has enslaved the people, building statues and monuments. Bek is one of the slaves and Zaya is working for architect Urshu (Rufus Sewell). Zaya believes that Horus can help free Egypt, so she gives Bek the plans to Set’s vault, where he manages to steal back one of Horus’ eyes. Urshu finds out about Zaya’s betrayl however, and as Bek and her escape, she is killed by one of his arrows.
Bek goes to Horus and gives him back his eye, and he strikes a deal to save Zaya from the underworld in exchange for helping to steal back his other eye. The two then set off on a journey across a version of Egypt whilst being chased by various hunters sent by Set.
So, no more delays, what did I make of the film?
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay…
Actually, it needs more explanation. I saw the film four full days ago, and I’ve been wondering just why it is so bad ever since. That’s my excuse for posting this review late, and I’m sticking to it! There are plenty of issues in what I saw on screen, putting aside issues like the whitewashing accusations, which is an important debate that gives this film far more weight than it deserves.
Clash Of The Titans and Hercules are a couple of films from the last few years that have encountered many of the same obstacles as Gods Of Egypt. They were saved by either having some acting heavyweights (Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes) in the supporting cast, or a perfectly cast leading man (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson). Gods Of Egypt doesn’t manage to do either. Geoffrey Rush plays Ra, the Sun God, in the type of small role that the “with MAJOR STAR” credit was designed for. Strangely though, the end of the credits actually read “WITH Gerard Butler AND Geoffrey Rush”. That would suggest at one point Butler’s role was meant to be a lot smaller and expanded over time. Part of me thinks that the studio thought the story needed propping up, so Set’s story got bigger. In turn, his impact is lessened. Set in the background as a malicious ruler enslaving a nation and being the “Final Boss” to be killed at the end would have been much better. Only Rufus Sewell really manages to have any fun in Gods Of Egypt, a knowing performance in what should be a daft film.
There is also a problem with the very basis of the film. I was surprised at how little knowledge I actually had about Egyptian Gods, and very little information is given about them. My Greek mythology is a bit rusty, but I still knew who Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon are and what their “powers” are. Here, it all gets very, very confusing. Gods are introduced upon arriving at the coronation ceremony, but that is their only appearance until we are expected to care about them when Set is on his killing spree. Chadwick Boseman as Thoth is the God Of Wisdom, and gives one of the strangest performances, pitched just slightly short of Frankie Howerd in Up Pompeii. The aforementioned Geoffrey Rush as Ra is on a boat floating above the Earth (a flat Earth, mind you) and fighting off a space worm that tries to eat the world he created. Yeah.
Also, the Egyptian Gods are significantly taller than humans, and this leads to a lot of forced perspective that actually becomes irritating and distracting. There’s one scene between Gerard Butler and Rufus Sewell that feels like those Dennis Waterman sketches in Little Britain.
The other things that set the Gods apart from humans is that gold flows through their veins instead of blood (which allows the Gods to get beaten up and avoid showing actual blood) and the fact that they can transform into a Deity form. This could be the most ridiculous aspect. At one point it looks like we are going to have the Gods painted as flawed beings, as Horus seems like a feckless playboy in the first scene, and Set is vengeful and bitter, rather than simply evil. But when fighting they transform into an eagle man and a jackel (or something) and it moves from potentially interesting to silly.
There are plenty of problems with pacing of the script, as well its sometimes bizarre content. Horus and Bek mostly wander around from one set piece to the next. Zaya’s journey through the underworld is equally vague and uninteresting. Any chance of the film being daft, entertaining fun is squandered pretty early on as it takes itself far too seriously.
Recently in our Re-Views, we’ve started adding a “What Happened Next?” section, and this film is so bad it does make you wonder what will happen next with the people involved with the film. Gerard Butler clearly still has box office appeal (London Has Fallen made a tidy sum earlier this year). Brenton Thwaites has a role in the next Pirates Of The Caribbean, so he should be alright. Similarly, Alex Proyas made I, Robot – and with that on his CV he’ll be ok. The script writers however also wrote Dracula Untold and The Last Witch Hunter. Their next film is the Power Rangers reboot due out next year. On the basis of this, don’t hold you breath.
As a headliner though, it looks like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau might have a bit of work to do after Game Of Thrones finishes its run. I love the guy as Jaime Lannister, and the journey his character has gone on has gone from outright hatred to beloved avenging hero and just about everything in between. He is alright here, but the film needed a towering, heroic performance here, and he doesn’t give it. He’s not the main problem in the film, but I could see him needing to rebuild some cred. Most will probably get out of it unscathed though – and I think the business people at Lionsgate have pulled off a miracle and manage to reduce their losses and maybe saving a few careers in the process, even if the filmmakers don’t really deserve it
Like I said at the very beginning, Gods Of Egypt isn’t the worst film ever made. But it is really, really rubbish.
Gods Of Egypt is still in cinemas (you may have to search though).
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.
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