Remember a few years ago when they remade ” Clash of the Titans” and tried to bring back the “swords and sandals” epic to the big screen? That film managed a sequel, but I somehow think “Gods of Egypt,” the Egyptian twist of the genre, is one film that deserves to be drowned in the Nile.
If one knows anything about Egyptian mythology it is this: Osiris is the brother of Set and the father of Horus. Set murders Osiris and challenges Horus to a battle to determine who will rule the living. That is generally the set up that occurs in the first twenty or so minutes of the film. Here Set(Gerard Butler) defeats Horus(Nikolaj Coster- Waldau) and removes his eyes, banishing him from the kingdom while Set institutes rule over the humans he deems inferior.
Caught up in this battle is Bek(Brenton Thwaites) and Zaya(Courtney Eaton), our soon to be star crossed lovers as they navigate in the post-Set world. Naya’s belief in the gods convinces her lover to retrieve Horus’ eyes from Set’s vault, but it is her death that sets Horus on his journey as part of a bargain to bring her back from the afterlife to Bek and defeat Set.
At this point, you’d think I’d have pretty well explained the plot to you. If only I were half way done. On top of Horus’ journey, we have 1)Set’s rather unexplained motivations for half of the stuff he does, 2)a bit about Ra(Geoffrey Rush) battling the god of Chaos and needing Set to take his place, and 3)a love triangle between Set, Horus and the goddess Hathor(Elodie Yung). Essentially, this movie is a hot mess of tangled plot threads that never seem to untangle enough to let the viewer watch without a massive headache.
On top of it, the score is reminiscent of a 90s movie, or more accurately, a 90 video game. I say video game because the effects of the movie are bright and cheesy, the shots are close-ups or zoomed out to see the fast actions; plus, there are some really random slow-motion, freeze frame, 360 rotation views of just one of the many fight scenes in the film, of the kind you’d see in a game when you’d landed a hit and it gave you this style of a replay.
I won’t even talk about the effects surrounding Ra and the cheesy flames they put on him when he summons his power against Chaos and Set on his space-boat. Or about what I thought was Geoffrey Rush making ship puns for grins until I realized he was on a space-boat. Considering the dearth of script in evidence here, I wouldn’t have blamed him for playing a bit and poking a bit of fun at the role, but the dialogue was just that bad.
All of the actors phoned in their performances save for Elodie Yung as Hathor and Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, but in a movie where even an ounce of trying looks to be overacting in comparison, its a wasted effort. Boseman tries out some odd accent as the sassy god of wisdom, and Yung looks to be both sympathetic to the mortals plight and irritated with Set and Horus equally due to their arrogant demeanor. Gerard Butler looked to be recycling a bit of Leonidas in his portrayal of Set with all the bellowing he did.
If the actors had gone for flamboyant performances, rather than serious or absent, it might have made this movie bearable. A wink to the audience and a pit of a pun goes a long way to salvaging a crap movie, but Lionsgate didn’t even try here. They ran up a massive bill, and are releasing the movie in the February graveyard for a reason. And dead this movie should stay, even with the sequel set-up that seems gratuitous to all so-called epics of today.
I can’t say enough about how bad this film actually was. It wasn’t even bad enough to be good. And the timing of this failure couldn’t be worse in regards to the #OscarSoWhite controversy. With what looks to be a dismal box office return for the $140 million dollar production, directors should no longer have the excuse of needing a name to sell a movie when fighting against the whitewashing of Hollywood films.