Growing up I was a huge fan of mythology. I spent years reading Greek, Roman and Norse mythology but I will admit I never learned much about the Egyptian pantheon. So, unfortunately, I will have to leave it to someone else with more knowledge to deconstruct the silliness that abounds in Gods of Egypt when it comes to the backgrounds, relationships, and histories of all the gods.
However, I will note that if you are a fan of these particular myths, the film will give you a headache. Just five minutes of web-surfing brought back about 50000000 inaccuracies between the film and the actual myths. But hell, Gods of Egypt couldn’t be bothered to cast people of the appropriate ethnic background, so why would story matter?
Directed by Alex Proyas (The Crow, I, Robot, Dark City) the film is a hot mess of plots and subplots. It kicks off as power is transferred to Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) from his father Osiris (Bryan Brown), the first King of Egypt. But Osiris’s brother Set (Gerard Butler) doesn’t believe Horus is worthy so he kills Osiris, takes Horus’s eyes, and begins a brutal reign.
Cool, right? A movie about gods duking it out over who should be in charge? Nope! We are told that a year after Set’s coup most of humanity is enslaved with only the truly rich and powerful able to live well or even get into the afterlife. Mere mortals Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and Zaya (Courtney Eaton) hatch a plan to steal Horus’s eyes back and urge him to wrest control from his uncle.
What follows is a whole lot of nothing. It’s not bad as entertainment of the mindless variety. I’ll admit that the action scenes were well filmed and the set-pieces were insanely gorgeous. (I went to a 3D IMAX viewing for convenience sake.) The 3D wasn’t as muddled as too many new movies tend to be, and the movie cleverly skirted the PG-13 rating by claiming that gold flowed through the veins of all gods so there could still be ‘bloody violence’ without any red.
But all the beauty in the world could do nothing to counter how muddled the plot was. I felt like I needed a chart to keep up with who knew who, how many different pasts were referenced, and which god controlled what. The only depiction that wasn’t joyless or overdramatic was that of Thoth (Chadwick Boseman), the god of wisdom. And yes, I couldn’t help but notice that the most interesting character in the entire movie was the only minority in anything approaching a lead role.
There were also a whole lot of Minotaurs. Pretty sure that’s the wrong mythology, guys.
The cynic in me couldn’t help but think that since almost nobody whose ancestors would have grown up in the region depicted in the film was cast ended up being a good thing. Certainly being a part of Gods of Egypt is nothing to put on a resume.
If you’re interested in the ancient gods of Egypt, go read a book. It will be more interesting and make more sense.
Gods of Egypt
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush
Directed by: Alex Proyas
Written by: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Running time: 127 minutes