You have to believe there are plenty of ingredients within Egyptian mythology to inspire a fun, sprawling fantasy feature. The gods, the symbols, and the lore seem ready-made for the big budget, eye-popping blockbuster treatment. You would think that, right? Enter “Gods of Egypt”, a mess of a movie that will instantly have you doubting that belief.
This was one of those instances where I couldn’t help but think “It can’t be that bad.” The trailers looked ridiculous and critics ripped this thing to shreds. But I grew up loving the silly, cheesy but self-aware science-fiction and fantasy movies of the 1980s. When it comes to those films I have a lot of tolerance and forgiveness. But “Gods of Egypt” is indeed bad, woefully bad.
Where to start? I don’t know, how about with the story. Writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless already have a sketchy track record having penned the glaringly underwhelming “Dracula Untold” and “The Last Witch Hunter” (and working on the Power Rangers reboot for next year). “Gods of Egypt” easily fits within that catalog although its problems are significantly broader.
The story basically crosses the paths of a young mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) desperate to save his true love from the underworld and Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Egyptian God of the air whose eyes were gouged out and his throne stolen by the jealous Set (Gerard Butler), the god of the desert. Bek sees Horus as his only chance to save his fiancé. Horus agrees to help under the condition that Bek gets him into Set’s stronghold.
So there is a decent framework for a story…kinda. Unfortunately it hardly works on any level. Sazama and Sharpless gives us one uninteresting, paper-thin character after another and their stories are as bland as the characters themselves. It meanders through waves of lame character interactions, mind-numbing fight sequences, uninspired creatures, and boring plot contrivances.
And the performances don’t help. They range from passable (Coster-Waldau), to bad (Thwaites), to laughable (Butler), to downright weird (Geoffrey Rush in a role so absurd you have to see it to believe it). And it isn’t as if the dialogue helps them. Some of the lines these actors are asked to utter are mind-boggling.And then there are the special effects. At times it seems the script was written in service of the effects and not vice-versa. Director Alex Proyas is constantly trying to find ways for his CGI spectacle to take center stage. The visuals are all over the place. In terms of quality the effects are wildly inconsistent and sometimes shockingly gaudy for a film with a $140 million budget. That’s bad, especially since it is utterly dependent on it’s CGI-heavy presentation.
More could be said but frankly what’s the point? It’s such a poorly written mess. The direction lets the film down in scene after scene. Gerard Butler’s Nic Cage-like career decline continues. And Egyptian mythology was never so boring. I suppose you could have a “It’s so bad it’s good” type of experience, but to do so would requires a lot of face palms, head scratching, eye-rolling, and time checking. If you’re up to trying it by all means give it a shot. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.
VERDICT – 1.5 STARS