Gods Of Egypt FILM REVIEW
Release: 17 June 2016
From: Entertainment One
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush
Following a somewhat perfunctory opening, featuring two deathly dull human characters played with enthusiasm beyond the call of duty by Brenton Thwaites and Courtney Eaton, Gods Of Egypt gets to the matter at hand, the titular Gods. The deities in Gods Of Egypt are markedly different to humans, standing much taller, having the ability to morph into creatures and bleeding gold if they are cut.
This latter point becomes relevant immediately when Set (Gerard Butler) kills his brother and the King Of Egypt, Osiris (Bryan Brown), right in front of Osiris’ son’s eyes. The son, Horus, is played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and as you may have already guessed if you are familiar with these actors, director Alex Proyas isn’t too bothered about whether or not their ages seem plausible. Or indeed their accents, with Butler’s Scottish drawl, in particular raising a few eyebrows. Later on we also get Chadwick Boseman – a fine actor who impressed a great deal in Get On Up – playing the God of Knowledge and delivering all his lines in the most bizarre accent. If the film weren’t so crushingly dull and self important at times, you could be mistaken for thinking that Boseman had the tone nailed, so campy and silly is his performance.
Gods Of Egypt would be far more enjoyable if Proyas had embraced the more silly and fun side of the subject matter he’s dealing with – giant snakes, giant bugs and giant spaceships – but instead a lot of the film is played with a relatively straight face. A few attempts at humour – a line in which Set jokes about a statue being taller for instance – land with a dull thud and the sword and sandals adventuring, including nods to Indiana Jones, lack the requisite spark and inventiveness, leaving so many scenes feeling flashy but utterly empty and a bit of a chore to get through.
Adding to the hollowness of the action is the weightlessness of CGI, which leaves many scenes feeling like they would evaporate if you stared at them for too long. The production design is thrilling in a way, just through being so ludicrously shiny and bright, but because everything is so dazzlingly over-the-top throughout – as if it was all designed by somebody who thought Liberace was too understated – the cumulative effect of all this gaudiness is a deadening one.
Around 20 minutes into Gods Of Egypt the sheer daftness of the script – by Dracula Untold and Last Witch Hunter writers Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless – and the excessiveness of absolutely everything about the look of the film, makes one wonder if this might be a fun way to spend some time at the cinema, but as the film slots into one repetitive action beat after another and the characters fail to engage in any way at all, everything begins to really feel like a drag.
And as a wave of boredom begins to wash over you, it’s difficult not to start thinking about the many strange holes in the plot or weird issues with the film’s narrative logic and, more importantly, why almost everyone is white. And also, why the only two prominent women in the film are given costumes with plunging necklines and roles that render them half-dead for the majority of the film or promiscuous and only concerned with fineries.
Gods Of Egypt is such a bizarre hybrid fantasy/sci-fi/sword and sandals picture in which the writers and Proyas seemed to have free reign to put almost anything they wanted on screen, including but not limited to Gerard Butler flanked by giant beetles. And yet we get an Egyptian film with mostly white actors and yet another big budget Hollywood film with retrograde roles for women. Frustrating on almost every front, Gods Of Egypt is sadly yet another disappointment, from a director who showed so much early promise.
Review by Craig Skinner