Gods of Egypt – With expectations so low, how could it fail?
Gods of Egypt was released last year in the States, and I’m not sure when the last time critics and movie-goers alike both teamed up to pan a film so mercilessly. With its recent release here in the UK my wife and I decided to go take a look, and figured we’d give it every possible chance to impress us. With this in mind we made a point of catching an IMAX 3D showing.
The start of the movie was just awful. I didn’t know what to expect, but what I didn’t expect was to be watching something akin to a children’s Disney film. The opening shows the Gods as being much larger than the humans with which they live, with gold running through their veins instead of blood. Unfortunately the ‘much larger’ aspect of the Gods appearance renders the human cast as virtual Hobbits (I was actually thinking more like the Leprechauns of Darby O’Gill and the Little People) and as an audience we are instantly taken away from any relationship we might have had with the various characters in the movie.
From this extremely awkward start, Gods of Egypt then begins to mount a brave but drunken fightback. Slowly engaging its audience with some likeable characters – Brenton Thwaites as the rougue-ish thief Bek and his one true love, Zaya (Courtney Eaton). With these two the film has a genuine romantic angle, and drives the movie forward under the steam of Bek’s desire to save his love from eternal damnation.
The true hero of the film, Horus (played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), takes a little longer for the audience to embrace. Now I get that that’s the way it’s supposed to be. The story arc is all about his growing maturity and respect for his human companions, but even from a story-telling standpoint the character lacks consistency and his motivations are often unclear (or a complete nonsense). His scenes with his own love interest Hathor (Elodie Yung) are as awkward as the opening ‘Darby O’Gill’ scenes and during these moments you wonder how this movie is going to maintain any momentum at all. Thankfully their on-screen time together is short and the movie is able to shift itself out of second gear and get moving again.
Gerard Butler’s character Set spends the films running time railing against anyone and everything, and by the end doesn’t really seem to care how things pan out, so long as Horus doesn’t get to be king (I can never understand why bad guys want to destroy the world – I mean, they’re IN the world, right?). Geoffrey Rush as the Sun-God Ra is just embarrassing and maybe we should just forget that didn’t happen.
A lot of criticisms, but in fairness it isn’t the worst film released this year (take a bow Kevin Bacon and The Darkness). It’s a good story poorly told, a mix of likeable, unlikeable, and ‘meh’ characters. Poor use of CGI, but CGI is better than stop-motion, right? It drags bit, has some cheesy moments, and never really thrills, but still holds your attention long enough to get you to the finish line. Gods of Egypt, in movie terms, is pretty much a draw. And that’s a shame, because it could have, no, SHOULD have been, so much more.