“GODS OF EGYPT” Review (Half of a star)

But not our Egypt though, just to be clear.

The world is round, not flat. This is common knowledge to most people, but apparently not to the people behind Gods of Egypt, who portray our planet in the film as a floating, circular disc spinning around in outer space. Such is one mistake among many that I noticed in Gods of Egypt, a terrible, loud, obnoxious, illogical, mind-numbing, headache-inducing travesty that may as well rip out our eyes like Set rips out Horus’ in the Egyptian legend. If the Egyptian Gods really do exist, they’d be disappointed at their representation here.

In case you didn’t already guess, Gods of Egypt is an adaptation of the classic Egyptian tales that were filled with vision and wonder, which the movie promptly sucks up and vomits into the nile. In this timeline, Gods co-exist with humans, and are taller, stronger, and smarter than them. Oh, and they bleed gold, which could be a useful skill, if you’re at the market and you forgot your wallet. If I were an Egyptian God, could you imagine how much I would have to bleed in order to pay off my college loans? There’s a thought worth having.

Most of the story goes about as you would expect. The evil desert God Set (Gerard Butler) kills Horus’ (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) father, gouges out Horus’ eyes, takes his throne, his woman, and his land, then banishes him out to the far reaches of Egypt. That much of the story I already knew. What I didn’t know is that there were two humans named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and Zaya (Courtney Eaton) who rediscovered Horus’ eyes, steals them back in Egyptian-caper style, then teams up with the Gods to dethrone Set and put Horus back on the king’s seat once and for all. Whoop-de-doo.

You can probably tell my enthusiasm wasn’t very high for this movie before its release. Can you blame me though? The trailers made it look like a stupid, CGI-heavy action fare, and that’s exactly what I was expecting up until when I took my seat. But I had a slight glimmer of hope right before I left for the theater. I looked up this movie’s credits on iMDB, and found that Alex Proyas was directing. Alex Proyas! Alex Proyas for Brandon Lee’s magnus opus The Crow. Alex Poryas for the fascinating and mesmerizing Dark City. Alex Proyas for the exciting and compelling sci-fi mystery I, Robot. At hearing that Proyas was directing, it excited me and gave me hope that this wasn’t going to be as bad an experience as I thought.

Oh, I was wrong. I was horribly, horribly wrong. This movie is bad on all fronts, from the acting to the story to the technical production. I don’t know how Proyas could make deftly smart and intelligent films for most of his career, then shrink down and make a movie as stupid and incomprehensible as this. It took him from a 9 director to maybe a 5.

What was so bad about this movie? For one thing, the story is completely ridiculous. Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless make no attempt at making their story grounded or compelling, which would have helped them a lot considering how detached and uninteresting the movie feels. How many times have we had this tired escapade of a family drama mixed with fantasy and mythology? How many times have we seen tales of betrayal, defeat, rise, and redemption done and redone over and over again in Hamlet, Gladiator, Braveheart, Thor, The Odyssey, and so on and so forth? I am sick of not only seeing the same recycled plot, but of also seeing the same recycled plot redone poorly. This script is so run-of-the-mill that you wonder how the mill hasn’t broken down yet.

What’s most confusing is that just like its writers, Alex Proyas makes absolutely no effort to make this story realistic or even slightly convincing. In fact, he’s gone on record earlier in the year saying that this story doesn’t take place in ancient Egypt, and in fact, never really even took place at all. Then what was the freaking point of telling this story? Yeah, I kinda got that you weren’t going for a realistic Gods of Egypt the minute I saw the flat Earth. The question is why? Why did you feel this obstinate need to make a movie so obviously preposterous, silly, and over-the-top that it works better in promotions than it does in storytelling? I mean, would that really have hurt the entire premise of the movie if you did something so basic as making the Earth round?

The actors are all typecast and not even worth mentioning. At an exasperating two hours, this movie was way too long, and it’s hard to make a case that it was even edited. I wish I could say the movie was at least a cool visual spectacle, but even the visual effects were garbage. Everything is gold-plated and shiny, which means you’re squinting for two hours because the light is reflecting too brightly off of the golden surfaces. The Gods are obviously artificially manipulated to look bigger than the humans, resulting in a very photoshopped appearance where the Gods are proportionally bigger, but their weight and dimension makes them look flat and unconvincing next to their smaller human counterparts. Gods transform into golden robo-Gods in really bad CGI conversions. Gods fly and fight so fast at each other that you see their blurs more often than the smaller details of their robo-suits. I can go on and on. Normally, the visual effects are the best things in bad movies. It’s the worst thing here. In fact, the visual effects look so distant and bland that I think I would rather read the script and imagine the picture myself rather than have the movie give it to me. It’s that awful.

I liked only one thing about this movie, and that was the wondrous and exciting score provided by composer Marco Beltrami. The movie could have done with more of that wonder and excitement. Fantasy films come and go frequently in today’s age, but this movie didn’t even try to be unique or clever. Proyas should have done his audience a favor and gouged out his own eyes before starting filming. He may have even been able to provide better direction that way too.

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