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Review: Gods of Egypt – A pyramid scheme

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Gods of EgyptFrom the get-go Gods of Egypt has some major issues with its “ethnically inaccurate casting” of Egyptians. The controversy has been widely reported, but even if you (guiltily) think the ancient Egyptian God of the Desert speaking with a Scottish accent is a rather amusing concept, this movie has even bigger problems.

A convoluted plot, dumb dialogue, over-the-top acting, digital effects that might have been borrowed from a decade-old video game, dark-haired actresses with nearly no character differentiation…I mean, if you are going to “whitewash” your movie’s cast, at least try to put them in a halfway decent film.

If you are a student of ancient Egyptian mythology (of which I am not), then you might have better insight into this film’s far-fetched narrative; so please forgo commenting on the inaccuracies in my plot summary and just enjoy the fact that you are all northeast Africa amazing. All I have to go on is what I experienced on screen – be it right or wrong.

In this pre-historical tale the Gods are twice the size of mortals and bleed gold. The God of the afterlife, Osiris (Bryan Brown), is the main ‘God of Egypt.’ He is also the eldest son of the Sun God, Ra (Geoffrey Rush), and the brother of Set (Gerard Butler), the God of the desert.

When Osiris steps down as Egypt’s spiritual figurehead, he passes the throne to his son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the God of the sky, who is in love with Hathor (Elodie Yung), the Goddess of love. But before the crown can be placed on Horus’ head, Set shows up claiming to be the rightful heir. He kills Osiris and plucks the eyes from Horus’ skull. (Not to worry though, parents, it’s all a fairly mild PG-13.)

Gods of EgyptAncient Egyptian adventures ensue as Horus teams up with a mortal, Bek (Brenton Thwaites); his lady love, Hathor; and the God of Wisdom, Thoth (Chadwick Boseman), to reclaim Egypt and revive Horus’ biggest female fan, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), who is also Bek’s girlfriend…who was killed early on and is now journeying through the afterlife.

Along the way, Bek enjoys some Prince of Persia video-game styled action; the team has a rather anti-climactic run-in with the Sphinx; and there is one very cool sequence that has a pair of giant-cobra riding vixens squaring off against the one-eyed Hathor. I’d like to say that this one singular action scene is worth the price of admission, but that’s a wishful exaggeration. Nevertheless, the movie does have something going for it.

On a purely pop culture peculiarity level it was fun to see Game of Thrones’ Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Dareveil’s Elektra Natchios (Elodie Yung), Marvel’s Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman), and 300’s King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) all in the same movie. Also, looking at Courtney Eaton (Cheedo the Fragile from Mad Max: Fury Road) for 127 minutes is nothing to complain about; but eye-candy alone comes nowhere close to saving this plague of a picture.

Gods of EgyptAlex Proyas (I, Robot) direction of the script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (The Last Witch Hunter) is all over the place with white Anglo-Saxons playing ancient Egyptians speaking absurd 21st century American colloquialisms with English accents.

Visually, there are some parts of the movie that rise above your average video game and are quite stunning. I really liked the flying bird-powered boat and the big, ugly serpent of Chaos that drinks the Nile [Didn’t I say this was crazy?]; but these scenes are scattered and likely dark and muddled by 3D glasses. If you choose to see this film at all I highly recommend the non-3D version.

Overall Gods of Egypt has a slight Saturday morning adventure film fun-factor going for it that a tub of popcorn might help to overcome, but you are mostly in for two-hour pyramid scheme that will leave your brain broken. Grade: 3/10

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About the author

Bob Leeper

Bob Leeper is the co-owner and manager of "Arizona’s Pop Culture and Alternative Art Network," Evermore Nevermore. He is the co-creator of the pop culture events Steampunk Street and ENCREDICON, and is a member of the Phoenix Film Critics Society. He also curates the Facebook fan site The Arizona Cave – AZ Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs, and is one of the few brave and bold fans of Jar Jar Binks.

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