The white-washing of the characters is not the only horrible thing about this wanna be blockbuster heading towards box office failure.
Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless
Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Courtney Eaton, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Geoffrey Rush
Gods of Egypt imagines what the ancient Egypt would have been like if the stories of the gods were real and they walked among humans. The gods are much taller than mortals, bleed golden blood, and can transform into monstrous beings at will.
The god Osiris (Bryan Brown) is king and loved by everyone because of his generosity. As a reward for being a good and hard working person in this life, anyone who dies is allowed passage into the beautiful afterlife. Horus (Coster-Waldau), Osiris’ son, is about to be crowned king when his uncle, Set (Butler), interrupts the coronation by killing Osiris and taking Horus’ eyes (which is the source of his power). Set banishes Horus from civilization and enslaves mankind to build monuments to his father Ra (Rush) and himself. Any god who challenges him is killed and only allows the mortals who were rich when they were alive to buy their way into the afterlife.
Believing that Horus will come and save humanity, Zaya (Eaton), begs her thief boyfriend, Bek (Thwaites), to steal Horus’ eyes from Set’s treasure room to give back to the defeated god. Bek is only able to steal one eye successfully. When the lovers make their escape, Zaya is killed. Horus makes Bek a promise that he will bring Zaya back from the dead if Bek helps him destroy the fire of the desert, Set’s source of power, and take back the throne.
Yeah, there is the issue of all the main characters are Egyptian and played by actors who are white as hell, but what makes this more offensive is that any person of color in the movie is a servant. “Wait, there is a god played by Chadwick Boseman,” you say. Yes, but he is Horus’ teacher and amounts to the magical, wise, black man who helps on the hero’s journey. To make things even more face-palm worthy is the goddess of love, Hathor (Yung), could have actually been an interesting character, but instead is reduced to being the side chick to Set (who is married to another goddess) and pining girlfriend of Horus.
The overly CGI look makes the movie seem like a video game and the plot, which is nothing more than a set of quests for various objects and battles with mythical creatures, doesn’t help make it less game like. I actually would have rather spent my money on playing the video game version than the movie ticket, and then it would have been more fun for me. The CGI, which does look spectacular, distracts from the danger of the situation. I never felt like any of the characters were in real jeopardy. Or if they did die, the character could just respawn and start again.
Alex Proyas has made some great movies in the past that took an extreme concept and made an interesting, if not excellent, film. The Crow, I, Robot, and Dark City are such unique movies and it makes me wonder what went wrong with Gods of Egypt and why it is so boring. The concept was over the top and the visuals committed to it. There are scenes with Ra sailing a ship across a sea of stars over a flat Earth and battles the shadow god Chaos Apep every night and it is pretty awesome looking. That doesn’t save the movie from following the standard hero’s journey checklist. Hero is banished, goes thru many trials to test his bravery, makes a journey of self-discovery and understands what an arrogant prat he was, then realizes he didn’t need [insert magical object here] to give him power, and so on, and so forth.
Obnoxious voice over narration in the beginning and end of the movie along with characters explaining who people are to one another for the benefit of the audience dumbs things way down. “Your grandfather is Ra, the sun god of everything?!?” “Yes, my father’s father is the god who controls the sun.” I’m paraphrasing that conversation, but that is pretty much how the dialogue goes when any new characters are introduced. Any time Hathor is on screen either she or someone else makes reference to her being the goddess of love because we as the audience would forget without constant reminding. It could have been a fun movie if Set would have been allowed to be a full on crazy villain, but the script constantly stretches to try and make him sympathetic.
Then there are the performances. Coster-Waldau didn’t stretch beyond his Jamie Lannister persona and Butler phoned in an angry Leonidas reenactment. Maybe that is the movie Proyas should have made, Lannister vs Leonidas. It would have been a hell of a lot more fun to watch, plus no controversy over white-washing. Ra is supposed to come off as tired and beaten, but mostly it just looks like Rush is the beaten one. It was shock to me to see Rush in this movie because he is a major actor and was not on any billing I saw, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rush asked to not be one of the top billed actors to distance himself from this movie. Thwaites is not necessarily bad, but he doesn’t possess the charm to pull off the lovable scamp.
Overall, I think the general movie going population will go and see Deadpool again (as you should because that was a really good movie) and Gods of Egypt will fade into obscurity quickly, only to be seen on the SyFy network on a lazy Saturday afternoon. It is a proper fate a lackluster movie such as this one deserves.
1 1/2 out of 5 Stars