In this age of think pieces, some of which will probably be hosted on this site, some times we stop discussing films and discuss the themes around them. I generally welcome that as it’s an acknowledgement that films are more than just pieces of entertainment and actually influence us all in our daily lives. However some take it too far. Because most writers get paid by the amount of hits they get, the more hits I get the more Shaun pats me on the head and gives me treats, they aim to stir up their own controversy and end up discussing everything but the actual content of the film. That is what happened with Gods of Egypt.
In Ancient Egypt, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Game of Thrones) is set to ascend to the throne. however his uncle Set (Gerard Butler, 300) is angered after spending years in exile and decides to take the crown by force and almost kills Horus. In order to take his rightful spot on the throne, Horus must team up with the thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites, Maleficent) who is trying to bring his dead fiance Zaya (Courtney Eaton, Mad Max: Fury Road) back from the dead.
Now the controversy that I am referring to in the first paragraph is that of the whitewashing apparent in this film. Despite the fact this is a film about Egypt and set in Egypt, there are no actual Egyptians in the cast, either in the primary or supporting or even an extra. Now this got a lot of people hot under the collar, especially as the trailer for this came out after a very similar controversy for Exodus: Gods and Kings. But to be quite frank, for this film it doesn’t matter. As will become apparent throughout this review, this film is not being realistic to history and just wants to be as ridiculous and stupid as possible, which is fair enough. While it would have been nice to see actual Egyptians in the cast, it isn’t a massive problem.
The problem is everything else. We’ll first tackle the acting. Gerard Butler is one of the better performers in this film, simply because he’s playing himself ramped up to ten and he can at least get a laugh. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau starts off OK as he plays up the sort of cocky charm he has, but then his arc ruins him. Horus starts off very cocky and assured of himself and needs to learn how to care for other and become more humble. This is a clichéd arc to begin with but what it does in the end is turn a character that was amusing to watch and sort of likable turn into a total bore. So yes, someone saw Jaden Smith’s arc in After Earth and used it in her film.
But the worst of all is Brenton Thwaites who puts in one of the worst performances I’ve seen since I’ve started to review films. He doesn’t even put in a bland performance where he doesn’t care, but everything is done in this one tone which sounds like a faux excitement. He does the same tone of voice and body language when he’s doing massive declarations of love as when he’s being angry with Horus. It’s just an atrocious performance and it makes the whole film worse because this guy is meant to be our path into this world.
Oh and the film looks absolutely terrible. This film apparently had a $140 million budget, which ranks it up there with some of the biggest blockbusters in recent years, yet I don’t know where any of that money went to because it’s certainly not on-screen. The CGI is on level with Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and yes I know that film looked stunning at the time, but that was back in the 1990s and it is now 2016 and this film looks old already. It’s then made worse by all the sets being replaced by CGI so we have to focus on them a lot. Then there’s some atrocious editing which makes the action scenes dam nigh unwatchable.
So is there anything from this film that’s salvageable? Well actually it could teach Pride and Prejudice and Zombies a thing or too because as this film acknowledges that it’s story is completely rubbish and decides not to take its self too seriously. This means that every so often, someone gets in a stupid line which will make you chuckle or the mess on-screen can keep you get entertained. Heck, I know when it turned out that Ra (Geoffrey Rush, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl) lived on a spaceship fighting a giant body of darkness I laughed like a drain.
Let’s ignore all the racial issues Gods of Egypt brings up and concentrate on the thing that truly matters. It’s completely rubbish. The film fails on an action level because of terrible special effects and one of the worst editing jobs you’ll see in a long time while it fails on a story level because it’s incredibly clichéd at best and just completely disinterested at worst. Where the money from its budget went I don’t know, but I really hope some of it ended up at a charity because that’s the only worth you’d get out of this film.