Gods of Egypt
2016, PG-13, 127 min. Directed by Alex Proyas. Starring Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Elodie Yung, Rufus Sewell, Chadwick Boseman, Courtney Eaton, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown, Rachael Blake.
REVIEWED By Steve Davis, Fri., March 4, 2016
Holy Isis and Osiris! Barely two months into the year and a strong contender for the worst film of 2016 has already appeared onscreen, resounding with the smack of a corpulent crocodile belly-flopping into the Nile. The ungodly Gods of Egypt dumbs down the mythology of the Land of the Pharaohs in new Hollywood style, demoting the sacred stories preserved centuries ago in funerary texts to mindless action-movie dynamics designed for attention spans taxed by anything with more than 140 characters. The film takes place in an ancient Egyptian parallel universe, an alternate world in which supreme beings and mere mortals coexist, differentiated by size in the manner of David and Goliath. (The startling contrast between miniaturized human beings and oversized gods is nothing less than creepy at first. It feels a little like a freak show.) The titans also bleed gold and transform into monstrous creatures at will, which makes for quite a shit show when the jealous Set (Butler) brazenly murders his father Osiris, the reigning deity in the pantheon, in full view of everyone, and then plucks the eyeballs from the skull of his more likable brother, Horus (Coster-Waldau). While the Cain-and-Abel relationship between the two siblings is true to Egyptian mythology, the shimmering gloss applied by seemingly demented director Alex Proyas (The Crow) and his production crew is anything but faithful to those traditions. The movie is a hallucination of shiny metallic surfaces, endlessly glinting like the sequins on a Bob Mackie gown in a Cher midseason variety special. It’s an expression of flashy showmanship aiming to bedazzle (or blind) you in the hope you’ll forgive the movie’s utter crappiness. Nice try, but a futile one. Convinced its gullible audience can’t resist its contemporary rendering (read: destruction) of these religious myths, Gods of Egypt is a campy movie without the camp.
The CGI fakery abounds: fake scorpions, fake pyramids, fake sandstorms, fake abs. (Despite the amount of female and male cleavage on display, all breasts appear to be real.) The cast of predominantly white and British actors isn’t exactly authentic either. To be fair, casting Caucasians as Egyptians is nothing new. The image of a snarling Edward G. Robinson in the cheesy biblical opus The Ten Commandments immediately comes to mind. (Then again, Hollywood cast Omar Sharif as the American gangster Nicky Arnstein in Funny Girl, so it works both ways on the rare occasion.) Regardless of the racial or cultural identity of the film’s players, however, Gods of Egypt would be an unmitigated disaster on any level. Avoid it like the plagues.