‘Gods of Egypt’ Review
From contributing film critic Andrew Gaudion
Once upon a time, in an early noughties cinema not too long ago, Alex Proyas was thought of as a promising, perhaps even visionary director. The Crow (1994), Dark City (1998) and Garage Days (2002) are all uncompromising, moody and highly stylistic films. His first foray into blockbuster territory, 2004’s I, Robot, remains a fun Hollywood pic with a cerebral edge (despite varying greatly from the source material). Heck, if you look hard enough, you’ll even find avid supporters of his last film, 2009’s ridiculous Knowing. Why Proyas has been so quiet of late I do not know, but it would seem that he is about to disappear again, as Gods of Egypt has come to be something of a punchline this year. It’s not hard to see why.
In an Ancient Egypt where Gods live among Men, Horus, God of the Air (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), is set to become ruler of Egypt. That is, until his bitter uncle, the God of Darkness Set (Gerard Butler), crashes the party, killing Horus’ father and removing Horus’ eyes which grant him his powers. With the fate of the world in the balance, Horus teams up with young mortal thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) to regain his powers and bring down Set before it’s too late.
Gods of Egypt is one of many recent films to have come under fire for its predominantly white cast playing characters of different ethnic origins. Unlike Exodus (2014) and last year’s Pan, Proyas and studio Lionsgate did actually apologise for their decision, rather than dig a deeper hole for themselves (I’m looking at you Sir Ridley). The film, then, was somewhat doomed from the start, with the final product proving that the casting decisions were simply the more glaring cases of misjudgement within the film, and, ultimately, showing just how out of touch Proyas is with modern audiences.
It is hard grasp exactly what it is that Proyas is aiming for within his hodge-podge fantasy. It is far too flashy to be a throwback to Ray Harryhausen pictures, while its elements of Space-Opera would seem to suggest a Dune-esque aspiration in terms of handling mythology, but this itself is undermined by moments of clumsy camp. While it does have a certain cheese factor, it is a cheese that is more irritable than it is pleasurable.
The fact that it can’t even stick the landing of being in ‘so bad – it’s good’ territory demonstrates how much of a misfire this project is. It may have survived in an early-noughties cinema climate, when the sword-and-sandal epic was in a bit more favour. But now, no one is clamouring for this type of fantasy anymore, even less so with Gerard Butler as its star.
The biggest, most glaring flaw is that it is simply a terribly put-together film. Many, if not all, of the green-screen effects are painstakingly obvious, while the structure amounts to little more than a repetitive sequence of chases, collapsing ruins and clobbering CG Gods. Many of the performances are lost in a muddle of flat CG landscapes, with everyone seemingly looking embarrassed, clear in the knowledge that this is a film that none of them will be in a hurry to bring up in their next audition.
Gods of Egypt is not worth your time at the cinema, it may yet find life as a curious oddity, but one that should always carry a label stating ‘Do not endure whilst sober.’ There is something mad in this boiled over broth, but it is never given the chance to truly set free, bogged down by its un-imaginative plotting, CG vomit and uninspired performances. If Joel Schumacher had made this in the late 90’s, then we might have something to truly laugh about. As it stands, Gods of Egypt is destined to wander alone in the afterlife, left to ponder its wrongdoings upon this Earth(1 / 5)
(Photos copyright: Pyramania, Summit Entertainment, Mystery Clock Cinema, Thunder Road Pictures)