- Posted by Giaco Furino
- On February 26, 2016
- 1 Comments
- alex proyas, gods of egypt
Oh geez… okay, time to review Gods of Egypt, here we go… A film like Gods of Egypt comes around once every three or four years. A movie so tone-deaf, so shockingly weird, so reliant on CGI, so strangely acted, that it actually ends up being… amazing? Yes, you heard me, I’m saying Gods of Egypt isn’t “bad-bad,” it’s not even “good-bad,” it goes beyond that and hovers near “amazing-bad” masterpieces like The Room.
Directed by Alex Proyas (who also helmed The Crow and Dark City) from a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (writing duo behind Dracula Untold and The Last Witch Hunter), this flick tells the story of a war between the gods of Egypt, who live on earth and dwell among humans.
The film focuses on the struggle between Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (that’s Jaime Lannister, to you) as Horace, god of the air, and Gerard Butler as Set, god of the desert. Okay, ready for this insane plot? Hold on tight (also minor *spoilers* but who cares): Osiris and Set are both kings of Egypt. Osiris rules over all the lands kissed by the Nile river, Set rules the desert. Osiris holds a big ceremony to crown his son, Horace, as new king of Egypt. Just before he’s crowned, Set appears, kills Osiris, and plucks out Horace’s eyes (we’re told moments before that he has perfect vision). Horace goes into hiding, Set rules Egypt with a tyrannical fist, and it’s up to plucky humans Bek and Zaya to try and steal Horace’s eyes from Set’s treasure room and return them to him.
Along the way Bek and Horace fight minotaurs, giant snake monsters, hang out with the goddess of love Hathor, convince a sassy Thoth to help them solve a Sphinx’s riddle, and battle SUPER SET in a climactic smackdown. That plot, in and of itself, deserves a forty page essay on why it’s so weird, why it doesn’t work, and yet why it still remains oddly satisfying. I’m torn here, I can’t criticize this movie without immediately after saying “wait, wait… yeah it sucked but it was also really cool!” What’s wrong with me!?
The actors in this movie are high-quality, top-of-the-line actors (Geoffrey Rush plays Ra, for shit’s sake), who deliver their lines in the strangest ways. Stiff, sometimes almost laughing as they deliver their lines, this is one of the most fun performances I’ve ever seen from a group of actors (even though it’s a trainwreck). It’s like seeing a play where everything is off—people are forgetting their lines, missing their cues—to such a degree that by the second act the players have all said “screw it, let’s just play around.” I mentioned The Room earlier? Yeah, some of the line deliveries are that strange. A friend in the movie business once told me “There’s no such thing as bad acting, there’s only bad editing” and I think that may be the case here. Of all the takes they got, they went with these? But hey, this all-star cast seems to really be enjoying themselves. And if these actors weren’t having fun this movie would be a disaster on all fronts, but their lightheartedness (Set cracks a lot of jokes) keeps this movie afloat.
And that leads me to one of the strangest aspects of Gods of Egypt: it’s a comedy. Seriously! People fall, people scramble, people are quippy, there’s seemingly a joke every thirty seconds, physical gags, witty repartee… Bek and Horace are truly an odd couple, and their relationship is hilarious and satisfying.
Let’s address the giant scarab in the room now, this is a notoriously white-washed movie. In a kind of gross way, too. It’s not just that this is an Egypt full of white people, it’s that the people of Egypt, the humans and extras we see kneeling, being destroyed, etc. are of mixed ethnicities… but most of the Gods and major players of this movie are super-white. Geoffrey Rush’s Ra, god of all creation, looks like a piece of bread dipped in milk. So are the filmmakers saying that only white people can be gods? I just had to address that it’s weird and gross before getting back into what a beautiful mess it is. Director Alex Proyas and Lionsgate also apologized for the white-washing, so at least… they know they were wrong? I guess?
The visual effects on display here are… everything. I can’t even be sure if the clothes these actors wore were real or added in post. Most of the time it looks okay, but there are some scenes, especially during high-action moments, where the whole thing looks a little choppy. And even though Osiris is speaking to crowds of thousands in the beginning of the film it looks like he’s talking into a vast empty space (because, in reality while filming, I assume he was). The imagination at work here is huge, that’s for sure, we see mythological creatures acting in interesting ways (those giant scarabs are used as Set’s horses to draw his carriage, a nice touch for the desert king), and the construction of ancient monuments look very cool. There’s a lot that looks “cool” in this movie, even if it’s very substantively light.
In the end the general thrust of this movie is pure fantasy adventure. It feels like a video game, it feels like our heroes are “leveling up” and “rounding out their party” as they proceed on their journey. Good or bad, it’s fun to see an adventure movie. We’ve shifted as a culture away from adventure and into action, but this is a swashbuckling, rollicking, high-speed, light-hearted romp. Is Gods of Egypt a good movie? Haha, of course not. But I promise you, it’s fun. Stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid fun. And you should definitely see it because ridiculous movies like this are an ever-increasing rarity.