"Only one god can save us, but not without his eyes."
Alex Proyas has directed some of the most subtly intriguing films in recent memory. His big budget movies have always had an experimental edge to them and though they are slightly hit-or-miss in nature there is usually something interesting to be found. When his films are hits such as ‘The Crow’ or ‘Dark City’ they are absolutely amazing, innovative, stylistic and entertaining as well. All of this only makes ‘Gods of Egypt’ all the more baffling.
When the Egyptian Empire is taken over by the god of darkness, Set (Gerard Butler), the mortal hero Bek teams up with the god Horus and challenges Set to reclaim the throne of Egypt in order to save the world and his love.
‘Batman and Robin’, ‘The Lady in the Water’ and ‘Jupiter Ascending’. Those are just some of the unintentionally hilarious big budget studio movies that are comparable with ‘Gods of Egypt’. It really is baffling how bizarrely, insanely, horrifically bad this film is. I don’t even know where to start, the corny dialogue, nonsensical plot, awful CGI, the ludicrous pacing of the film, the way that it grinds through one cinematic cliché after another or the fact that every actor plays it so seriously.
Maybe I should start with the controversy surrounding the movie. It was caught up in the #Oscarssowhite campaign and came under fire for whitewashing ancient Egypt. It also made just $46 million from a $140 million budget. Then just days after its release Proyas slammed the various critics who had disliked the movie, calling them "diseased vultures pecking at the bones of a dying carcass” and also mentioned that he “applauds any film-goer who values their own opinion enough to not base it on what the pack-mentality says is good or bad.” Well Mr Proyas, I’m a film goer and I value my own opinion, and your movie is just terrible (though if you ever want to make a sequel to ‘Dark City’ you have my full encouragement).
What was the vison behind ‘Gods of Egypt’? Was it to bring out the already heavily beaten horse of our cultures fascination with ancient mythologies and sword and sandal epics, but present it in a format resembling a Michael Bay movie with the comedic sensibilities of Joel Schumacher? If the answer is yes, well done ‘Gods of Egypt’, how you pulled it off I’ll never know. I admit I’m rambling slightly here but I almost feel bad criticising this movie because though it is unbelievably bad, one can never accuse it of being lazy.
The film just turns everything up to 11 and then proceeds to stay there for the entirety if the runtime. It’s such a loud and bombastic experience even in its quieter moments, and the environment is almost blindingly vibrant with its colour scheme. There is not a single shot that seems genuine or not inundated with CGI. The camera seems to be stuck in a constant 360 degree setting as it whizzes around each action scene with no reason or artistic merit behind it. In fact the same can be said for the directing in general, nothing seems to serve a purpose for the themes of the film, to immerse the audience within it, to reflect emotions felt by the main characters, literally nothing makes any sense.
For the most part it seems to think it is in on the joke as it almost proudly flaunts its ridiculousness, having actors shout their lines with such bravado and seriousness. Just to give you some small idea of what we are dealing with here let me tell you just one line from the movie. But imagine it being said in the loudest, most aggressive and stern tone you could imagine, with no sense of irony at all and the complete and utter conviction that these words are as meaningful and poignant as something from a Charlie Kaufman movie. Ready? "Were you using my house for your fornicating?" That is an actual line spoken in an actual motion picture.
What kills the film though, is how charmless it is. The ones I listed at the start of the review are similar because they are all so convinced of their brilliance that they just execute everything with the utmost conviction that it is secretly brilliant. But it isn’t, and never will be.
Astonishingly terrible, hilariously awful.