Any film that features both Geoffrey Rush shooting a space snake with a laser spear and Gerard Butler transforming into a robo-griffin should, if nothing else, be fun. Kitsch, sure, stupid definitely, but still, this shouldn’t be dull. The thing is, no matter how many flying scarab chariots or ludicrously costumed white people Alex Proyas (Dark City, I, Robot) throws at the screen the overwhelming feeling is one of sheer boredom.
It sounds strange, I know. Every time I describe any set piece from this film it will read as a nonsensical, batshit, show stopper. Just keep in mind that this film is the essence of anti craic. Read on.
The film, already a notorious bomb stateside, kicks off in a mythologized ancient Egypt ruled by 10 foot tall Gods. Our hero, Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is a charming rogue without the charm. During the coronation of the pampered Horus (Nikolai Coster Waldau) Set (a noticeably Scottish accented Gerard Butler) crashes proceedings to stage a coup, plucking out Horus’ magic eyes in the process. Bek steals back one of Horus’ eyes and the mismatched pair team up to track down the remaining one, hopefully restoring Horus’ power, depth perception and place on the throne.
Before going any further I’ll acknowledge that this flop got a mauling for its whitewashing. While set in ancient Egypt, most of the cast are white people doing English accents. The exception, mentioned above is Gerard Butler who refuses to hide his Scottish inflections. Resultantly it has been called ‘The Most Racist Film Ever’ which is, of course ludicrous. Everything about this thing is ludicrous. This is not a story that is going for realism. If it were, the revelation that the ancient Egyptians had perfected the push up bra, the plunging neckline and the workout routine would feel noteworthy. It would have been nice to have some Middle Eastern people embarrass themselves but the racist casting is almost hard to be annoyed by. It’s not much of a defence but, really, it’s the least of our worries. This is bad on its own and not some victim of ‘PC gone mad’.
What’s stranger than the fire breathing cobras and CGI bull men on display is how people react to them. The performances throughout are bizarrely low energy. When fighting a sphinx the subtext behind every line seems to be a low key ‘Huh’. The cast all struggle to not sound stilted when delivering dialogue in their English accents. The chilled out line reading may also be a symptom of shooting almost entirely on green screen. Either way, it sucks any feeling of adventure away.
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The movie also stumbles in committing many action/adventure sins. Examples include throwing in unneeded McGuffins when the search for Horus’ eyes should serve as a perfectly good quest. Every ten minutes we’re introduced to another magical object to be retrieved via some magical mumbo jumbo. We also see the *SPOILER* ‘The-real-power-was-in-us-all-along-thus-making-the-plot-irrelevant’ cliché trotted out.
Beating up on this movie feels like tearing up a little kid’s drawing. Proyas was trying here; trying to make the audience have fun. He failed, for sure. Thing is, this is terrible but hard to hate. In fact, you’d be pushed to feel anything at all about it. On a purely visual level this might work, maybe, if projected in a night club to the bleary eyed who’ll look past the dodgy CGI. This is unlikely to ever happen, though. This isn’t an ironically beloved cult classic in waiting. Ultimately, Gods of Egypt fails to even be so bad it’s good.
Gods of Egypt is in cinemas now.
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