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— Kathleen Quinlan, Event Horizon

MRQE Top Critic

The East

The East emerges as an exciting piece of filmmaking from the independent scene’s hott —Matt Anderson (review...)

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Gods of Egypt hath wrought a miscarriage of cinema.

A Movie in Denial

Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) uses his version of the Force grip
Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) uses his version of the Force grip

Much ado and controversy has been made about this movie’s non-Egyptian cast. Scotsman Gerard Butler trades in his Sparta gear of 300 for similar accoutrements (and attitude) here. There are lots of British and Australian accents floating around the Nile in this misfire directed by Alex Proyas – who was, ironically, born in Egypt, albeit to Greek parents.

But this movie has much bigger problems than casting it can’t overcome and it ranks as another disappointment from Proyas, who made quite a splash with the stylish and engrossing Dark City many years ago. That was so long ago, it’s almost a part of ancient movie history.

Gods of Egypt is the kind of movie so lacking in anything remotely genuine, so devoid of characters to care about and so ham-fisted with its storytelling, the music score (by New Yorker Marco Beltrami in this case) is what tells the audience, “Hey! This is an exciting moment!” or “Yo! We’re being sensitive here!”

Mythology Gone Awry

Maybe the saddest thing about this debacle is thinking about what could’ve been. In the right hands and with the right cast, the source material could’ve so easily conjured up the fun and innovation of classic Ray Harryhausen movies. It’s got gods, It’s got gods fighting each other. it’s got mythology, it’s got giant creatures and lavish settings.

But no. What hits the screen merely makes one wish the projectionist would hit Force Quit and crank up the ol’ film projector and thread up Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger or even 1981’s Clash of the Titans.

Summit and Lionsgsgate had hoped this would be the start of a whole new franchise, something to fill the void in the wake of The Hunger Games and Divergent “four-part trilogies.”

No. Way. This is an alarmingly joyless, soulless spectacle wannabe that tries to tell a story about warring relative gods, Set (Butler) and nephew Horus (Danish Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Oblivion). Set murders brother Osiris (Australian Bryan Brown, Australia) in a power play for Egypt’s control. In reality, Brown is something like 22 years Butler’s senior. But 22 years to the gods is a mere sneeze.

It’s a cluttered, clumsy telling of Egyptian mythology; this movie doesn’t do justice to the rich, colorful history and mythology of Egypt. It’s probably just as well the cast is “so white.” How white is it? Australian Geoffrey Rush (The Pirates of the Caribbean series) plays the sun god Ra. Even Isis is played by an Australian (Rachael Blake, 2011’s Sleeping Beauty).

Maybe the large contingent of Scottish and Australian thespians qualifies it as an “international cast,” but efforts are wasted all around and it’s likely few people will witness this mess.

Raiders of the 300 Titans

There are moments when Gods of Egypt seems like it might get some mojo going.

There’s a cool chase scene involving giant serpents, but they’re horribly rendered with some of the worst CGI this side of The Last Starfighter. There are also scenes of booby trips and adventure that hark back to Raiders of the Lost Ark.

There’s also a love story to woo... well... somebody. Tweenage girls, maybe?

That love story involves two incredibly attractive 20-somethings, Beck (Brenton Thwaites, Maleficent) and Zaya (Courtney Eaton, Mad Max: Fury Road). Two more Australians!

Okay.

No need to pile it on.

Let’s write this off with one last observation about Horus and a comment he makes at the movie’s long-awaited climax. He says, “How we act in this life matters.”

It’s pretty much the movie’s only worthwhile thought. And it also seems so woefully misplaced.