Review: Gods of Egypt

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Egyptian mythology does not deserve this kind of treatment.

In a time when mortals lived alongside the ancient Egyptian gods, the god of Air and Wind, Horus, is pitted against his uncle Set after the murder of Osiris, the god king of Egypt. But when Horus is blinded after Set takes his eyes, he must rely on a mortal man to overthrow the tyrant who wants immortality and total control of the world.

While reading that synopsis, one might believe this sounds awesome! Gods fighting gods, murder, family betrayal, mutilation, myths! But… Gods of Egypt comes to the United Kingdom with a reputation…

Putting aside the rampant backlash this film has had due to “white-washing” its cast for a moment, this film is a critical disaster. Released in America back in February, I honestly thought we weren’t going to get a cinema release! One assumes they thought they’d left it long enough that the hatred had boiled down by now…

Much like the Greek and Roman mythologies, Egypt has frankly some of the most creative and visually stunning myths conceived in history. Their gods are characters, and represent multi-faceted aspects of life and reality, even death is as much a cornerstone of their society as life, a respected and honored tradition. Hollywood’s apparent total inability to master the myths of Egypt is worse than their attempts at Greek mythology. Immortals and Jason and the Argonauts are good movies!

But wow. Wow. I knew already Gods of Egypt was bad, but wow!
This is a bad movie. Laughably bad!
Somewhere in-between Battlefield Earth and Clash of the Titans, with the writing of the prequel trilogy.
The editing is terrible, the rampant CGI goes between giant snakes straight out of b-movie Dragon Wars (a superior film!) to a sword battle between Horus and… Ram… men… straight out of a video game from 2002. Complete with slow-mo, motion blur, full CG backgrounds, 360 degree camera spin and weird freeze-frame motion tween. I’ve not seen such a terrible use of CGI since Ultraviolet. Actually, it isn’t just that fight scene, that happens with every fight scene!
The characters are downright awkward and impossible to find compelling. We have poor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus (probably the best thing in the movie, even though that’s because he is Jamie Lannister in a weird golden Iron Man suit) surrounded by a mortal man who quips constantly, Osiris portrayed with the most unconvincing performance I have ever seen from Bryan Brown, and we have Geoffrey Rush as Ra…..

That’s your cue to spit out whatever you are currently drinking in disbelief.

Ra… Geoffrey Rush? The most powerful god ever, is basically bald Captain Barbossa, floating around in space, setting himself on fire? And then there’s… Gerald Butler. Ohhhh boy. This is… this is a man who is not trying. This is just Gerald Butler. A Scottish Egyptian for some reason! I don’t normally mind racial cast changes provided the actor fits the role in some way. This alone is a massive hemorrhage that the film cannot heal!

It is a complex and compelling mythology that really deserves a lot of love and sincerity, not this quipping, witty dialogue that fails miserably and utterly silly action sequences. There’s no humanity, even when chaos is literally invoked on the Earth there is no stakes or meaning to it, just noise. Even the soundtrack is awful; it doesn’t shut up! I don’t think there was one moment longer than ten seconds where there wasn’t music of some sort. The film really goes all out with impossible, misguided conviction!

Now credit where credit is due, they do some ambitious things with representing such supernatural ideas. There are the odd moments of clarity which are somewhat interesting… Our thief mortal hero meeting Horus in a tomb was probably the only interesting and precise bit of filming in the production. Ra’s crazy abstract boat dragging the sun around a flat world by a massive chain, that was awesome. The underworld and Anubis, great!

But my god there’s a lot of nonsense and gibberish going on, and I really need to stress the editing was terrible! Characters feel like they teleport across rooms with edits as fast as those! No, these aren’t magical characters either!

Something so epic and intense as Egyptian myth should not be boiled down to witty banter, silly action and senseless posturing. We should embrace these old stories with respect, not drag them through the trash like bootleg comic book stories.

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