Gods of Egypt literally bored me to tears. It’s the kind of misguided, incomprehensible, eye-gorging, overblown, meandering, tone-deaf, utterly nauseating blockbuster that sucks all the life and energy out of any room it’s unfortunately inside. It’s a looney nightmare of poor marketing decisions, wholly unconvincing CG special effects and across-the-board poor acting. It’s a bewildering crash course in excessive blandness. It’s an incessant rollercoaster of headache-inducing pain. You want it to end as soon as it starts. But much to everyone’s disgruntlement, it goes on an infuriatingly dull 127 minutes instead. The mildest joy it brings is letting us baffle at how something so horrendously unappealing could steal over $140 million from Summit’s hands. This is one for the gods to decide.
The latest from director Alex Proyas, the talented visionary genre director behind the likes of Dark City, The Crow, I, Robot and also Knowing, raises a lot of questions. Chiefly, how the hell was this directed by Alex Proyas, the man who directed Dark City, The Crow and I, Robot? I don’t think he lost a bet or anything; the man doesn’t make a movie every other year, you know. He probably spent years, maybe even decades, dreaming about this project and conceiving its conception. He gave years of his life that could have been used making a genuinely thrilling, massively creative sci-fi film, or simply another captivating adaptation of sorts, determining how to make something this repugnantly indigestible come alive in theaters across the world this weekend. Proyas had to figure out how to make a movie so insistently bizarre as Gods of Egypt appeal to audiences everywhere, and jumpstart a franchise that’s almost certainly dead on arrival before a single box office receipt comes into Lionsgate’s offices. He failed completely. What a waste. What a travesty. What a shame.
A movie this bonkers should not be this boring, but it is. It’s really, really, really boring —and I struggled mightily to stay wake through it. I guess I should get into the plot now, right? Oh boy, where the hell do I even start with this one? Okay, so, uh, we transported to ancient Egyptian, in a fantastical time where the pyramids don’t exist and the gods live among mortals. Among such Gods are Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), an immortal gifted with the best eyes in the land, and one poised to take over the Egyptian empire after his father. But his brother and fellow god Set (Gerard Butler) is not having any of that. He kills their dad, steals Horus’ eyes and takes over the position of power while our eye-less, 12-foot deity runs away into exile. That’s perhaps the simplest explanation I can give for all this so far, because this is without getting into all the animal transformations, gold blood and scene-chewing that takes places as this all goes down.
Anyway, it’s a dour time for these Egyptians, as Set pushes everyone to their breaking point to have his grand visions of destiny come alive. He makes them build a humongous landmark in his honor, and seeks out a dangerous plan to become the most powerful being in history through taking the powers of other fellow walking-talking godheads for his own bidding. When the gods are powerless, though, it takes a mortal to step up to the plate, and that’s where our loyal-hearted Bek (Brenton Thwaites) sneaks his ways into the proceedings. Able to take back one of Horus’ stolen peepers, he runs away from Set’s henchmen alongside the love-of-his-life, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), to return the all-seeing eye back to its rightful owner. But in the process, tragedy strikes: in the form of an arrow, through Zaya’s loving heart.
She’s practically dead before Bek can make it to Horus’ location, and in bringing back the god’s rightful possession, he hopes the ever-living individual can keep her alive beyond the Underworld. And he might be able to do that, so long as the two of them can set out to save the world-as-they-know-it from Set’s destructive path as they get Horus’ other eye back inside his skull. From there, it’s your average god-and-man road trip buddy flick —accompanied by stale set pieces, flat special effects and a borage of well-acclaimed supporting actors doing whatever they can to scrape their dignity through this schlock.
I’m not quite sure what went wrong here, particularly because I’m not sure if Gods of Egypt could have ever ended up right. I cannot stress this enough: this movie should not be as boring as it is. It’s simply baffling how something this freely, willingly insane can be so transcended in its insane dullness. It’s a visually unappealing video game of a feature film, with never one special effect looking believable and not one actor looking comfortable with themselves, their costumes or their part.
Well, all save for Butler, who looks like he’s actually having some fun in a role that harkens back to his sandals-and-armor days on the set of 300, if just a wee little bit. It’s likely his experience with Zach Synder’s feature made him comfortable around the excessive green-screens and straight-faced goofiness on display or added in post. He doesn’t just chew the nonexistence scenery; he gnaws at it like Leonardo DiCaprio devouring raw bison liver. You’d think his efforts would make Gods of Egypt even a little more fun. And they do, almost. But sadly he’s often thrown to the sidelines — trying to make up for lost time when he gets a moment, but never having enough time on-screen to really make it count.
In his absence, a bewildered Geoffrey Rush and an adamant Chadwick Boseman do their part as fellow higher-powered individuals Ra and Thoth, respectively. But they, too, often get thrown to the bench to welcome instead the utter blandness of Thwaites and Coster-Waldau. The former is a hollow shell of a performance devoid of personality and charm, while the latter has a couple little mild moments but never shines particularly bright. Their whiteness in this Egyptian tale is more than just distracting when they’re together on-screen, and even though Elodie Yung, as the sexy goddess Hathor, and the aforementioned Boseman often do their part, the whitewashing on display here never goes unnoticed.
But then again, that’s just one problem among the many, many, many, many problems Gods of Egypt has. And it’s tiring to even think about any of them, let alone all of them. Because honestly, even writing this review is sucking the soul out from under me. I don’t even know how I mustered up the energy to drive home yesterday after seeing this drivel. Because Proyas’ latest is Hollywood at its most tediously wearisome and phony. It plays like a collection bucket of poor decision-making and poor intentions. It’s a steam-rolled collision in awful money-wasting, a grand waste of everyone’s time and talents on all ends.
It’s possible this is simply a well-to-do movie that can’t meet up to the lofty ambitions of its filmmakers. It’s obvious they wanted to make something along the lines of a new-age Clash of the Titans or Jason and the Argonauts, and there’s no doubt this piss-poor blockbuster will age just as poorly, if not more so, than either of those in time. There are also shades of Conan the Barbarian in here too, as well as newer flops like The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies, Jupiter Ascending, Seventh Son, Immortals, Pompeii and even a little Percy Jackson as well. How a movie with this much absurdity could feel so familiar at the same time continues to raise too many questions on Gods of Egypt‘s behalf.
But there’s no real reason to continue getting worked up over this, honestly. It’ll come and it’ll go. Only Lionsgate/Summit will moan about its lost. But this dullard is important for one reason, and that’s this: it reminds us that, no matter how much you’ve done before, or what films you’ve got your name on in the past, nobody is truly invincible in the movie-making business. We all could end up shooting fire in the sky with a bad rat-tail wig on someday in Hollywood. Gods in Egypt proves nobody — Oscar-winner, God or otherwise — is infallible.