Gods of Egypt (2016)

02/27/2016  By  Martin R. Schneider     No comments

During the marketing for Gods of Egypt, both Lionsgate Entertainment and director Alex Proyas issued official apologies for their ridiculously whitewashed casting decisions. They probably should have just apologized for making the film entirely.

Utterly devoid of artistry and charm, Gods of Egypt plays out like someone scattered improvised dialogue through a random selection of bargain-basement video game cutscenes. It values flash over substance, but is also substantially lacking in flash. It is a bad, bad, movie. Not “fun-bad” or even “bafflingly bad” like Pan, it’s just a cheap, dull imitation of more successful and marketable films.

The plot, such as it is, follows Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a lovesick street rat and master thief living in a fantasy version of Ancient Egypt where the Gods dwell among the mortals, living as 15-foot tall gold-blooded superheroes. As Osiris, God of Act I Plot Setups (Bryan Brown), prepares to pass his throne along to Horus, God of Secondary Antagonists (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), he is murdered by his own brother Set, God of Fucking Scotland, Apparently (Gerard Butler). Blinded and banished, Horus promises to bring White Aladdin’s dead girlfriend back from the underworld in exchange for access to Set’s fortress, which said dead girlfriend happened to have the plans for, because she worked for the Royal Architect (Rufus “Always Kind of a Dick” Sewell). Along the way, they are joined by Horus’ ex Hathor (Elodie Young), Goddess of PG-13 Innuendo, and by Thoth, God of Tokenism (Chadwick Boseman).

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I’m sorry, I seem to have accidentally gotten my Zoolander 2 slides mixed in here. One minute.

Gods of Egypt feels like the sequel or tie-in film to a movie that doesn’t exist. New rules or plot elements are introduced arbitrarily, and the movie acts like you should already know them. Of course Horus can’t turn into a metal bird thing if he’s only got one eye, you know that! You also totally understand why Hathor gets sucked into the underworld if she takes her bracelet off! And yeah, you knew coming in that each God has, like, one bedazzled body part that Set can use to make super armor, you read the comic book, we all did! They’re the chaos emeralds of this universe!

But primary story structure isn’t the only bit of this film that’s bizarrely amateurish.

Even basic pacing and line delivery seems like too much of a challenge for this crew. Lines are dropped unnaturally and reactions are cut short, as though the film is robotically trying to determine “this is the charming line” or “this line shows the drama of the situation,” but is unable to communicate these ideas. Thwaites is particularly egregious, as the script frequently calls on him to talk to himself while performing thievery. Without another person in the room, he seems to forget what people sound like, just in general.

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tfw they say “Don’t Do Your Scottish Accent, Gerard!”

Of course, that might have to do with the fact that this film also fails at simple sound editing, an often-overlooked element of filmmaking which can be disastrous if done poorly. Example: The film stops whatever momentum it has to recruit Thoth into the party because he’s the only one smart enough to solve the riddle of the Sphinx. Thoth’s initial guess is wrong, and the sphinx attacks, because everything in this game works like a JRPG. Eventually, Thoth puzzles through it, and stops the onslaught by revealing the answer is…. something! I don’t know! It’s the climactic moment of the scene and you buried it under generic horns, grunts, and angry cat noises! Great priorities, guys!

I’ll give Gods of Egypt this: There are some neat design elements here, making this fantasy Egypt much more akin to Marvel’s Asgard, which is appropriate as this is basically a superhero film. In addition to the delightfully garish temples and black-desert underworld, there’s also a neat bit where Geoffrey Rush, God of Paycheck Acting, fights an intergalactic space whale demon. Unfortunately, nothing interesting is done with these painstakingly rendered settings. Instead, the film opens and closes on fights between CGI mecha animals, which isn’t nearly as interesting as that may sound.

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Even the guy on the right is like “Why are you watching this?”

In many ways, Gods of Egypt is the Bizarro-world Fury Road, partially because the films share over 200 of the same cast and crew.

Proving what a difference a competent script and director make, the films boast the same assistant director, effects supervisor, and stunt team, as well as a handful of actresses. Both films feature a band of rebels trekking through the Australian desert, and both come from directors who had all but retired from film directing beforehand. But mostly, while Fury Road restates the argument for blockbuster filmmaking as an art form, Gods of Egypt embodies everything that is bad about studio filmmaking. From the nonsensical plot to the constant confusion of snark with characterization, it’s like a film made by someone whose only exposure to other movies was through trailers for sequels. Most of all, while many have pointed out the practical reasons that it’s amazing Fury Road got made, Gods of Egypt is remarkable in that for its entire two-hour runtime, it never seems to have a reason to exist.

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Basic Elements of Moviemaking
Following Its Own Rules
CGI Design
Making The One Black Guy In The Movie Do A "Baby Got Back" Joke
Seriously, How Does Gerard Butler Keep Getting Work?

About Martin R. Schneider

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Martin Schneider has opinions about a lot of things, and sometimes he writes them down. But he tries not to be a douchebag about it, though.

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