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Review: ‘Gods of Egypt’ Is a Lot Better Than It Should Be

gods of egypt review

Directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt is a summer blockbuster conspicuously vying for your attention at the tail end of winter. Had this film been released in July, its long running time and frenetic fantasy set pieces may have been found a larger audience, and deservedly so.

Gods of Egypt is a reimagining of the Egyptian mythology as if it was reality (though the true mythology is hardly represented here), where the aforementioned state is the center of a flat earth guarded by Ra, the God of light, who must fight off an otherworldly demon “night after night.” One of the charms of Egypt is watching some of these outlandish concepts come to life in bold, albeit cheaply looking, ways.

The gods of this mythology live alongside the humans, and a hostile takeover by the king’s jealous brother (Set, played by Gerard Butler) throws the entire land into chaos. With the help of a plucky mortal thief, the king’s son (Horus, played by Nicolaj Coster-Waldau) must regain his godly powers stolen by Set and take his rightful throne.

Strangely, the plot is a clumsy patchwork of familiar 90s Disney movies, including The Lion King’s plot surrounding a banished prince losing the throne to his uncle, Aladdin as an Egyptian street rat, and some shades of Hercules, with one of the love interests being tied to the underworld.

In fact, the only character who feels unique and somewhat authentic for the African setting is played by Chadwick Boseman, a superb actor who delivers a sadly atrocious performance here.

Much of Gods of Egypt feels like a video game ripped out of a PlayStation 2, with frequent puzzles, fetch quests, and high-concept battles interspersing a world that feels massive and mysterious. But also like a video game, Gods of Egypt is filled with shoddy and even jittery cut scenes that are inexplicable for a movie that cost $140 million to make.

Alex Proyas is probably best known for Dark City, and though he wasn’t one of the writers for Gods of Egypt, his unique vision is still apparent in the script. The movie itself is rarely plain, and when it swings wide, it sometimes hits big. But many other times, the film misses greatly, and your odds of finding charm in its brazenness is about 50/50.

Perhaps if the Gods of Egypt embraced its clunky nature and dated visual style, it would be easier to recommend as a low-budget fantasy inspired by Immortals or Clash of the Titans. Though while it’s certainly more watchable than Wrath of the Titans, this is a fantasy epic you’re probably better off streaming at home.

Grade: C

Extra Credits:

  • Gerard Butler is great when he embraces true villainy, but his work in Egypt is weirdly restrained, as if the director cared more about us sympathizing with Set than fearing him.
  • Nicolaj Coster-Waldau is one of the weak points of the film. He gives it his all physically, but he’s not even trying to act beyond Jamie Lannister territory.
  • One of the film’s major failures is lack of immersion early on. It takes a while for you to shut out the fact that no one in the film appears or speaks like an Egyptian. The cacophony of varying European accents don’t help either.
  • Certain aspects of this film are really quite good, thanks to some of the visual imagery and absurd mythological concepts being brought to life. And I was massively entertained enough to overlook some of the movie’s silliness. This “B” movie is frankly only downgraded because of its rushed third act and bad effects.
  • Why am I a sucker for the Hero’s Journey? For whatever reason, I’m never fatigued by this, but if you are, then Gods of Egypt will do you no favors.
  • The film’s biggest flaw? Easy: if you’re going to go all out with Egyptian mythology, why not use it? Barely anything in this film flows from what is actually a fascinating universe of gods, instead sticking to Greek mythology cliches for whatever reason.

 

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No More Questions: Gerard Butler from ‘Gods of Egypt’

gerard butler interview

Welcome to No More Questions, where I ask the actors you know and love everything you want to know and love…

This week, let’s give a big round of Internet applause to sometimes-celebrated actor, Gerard Butler!

*Note: No More Questions is satire. It does not reflect the actual views of Gerard Butler, Jon Negroni, or anyone else mentioned in this interview. Some of the content in this interview comes from actual quotes by Gerard Butler in 2016. Seriously. 

JN: Can I call you Gerry? 

GB: No.

JN: Gerry, your new film, Gods of Egypt, premieres this Friday — or Thursday depending on how optimistic you are about people seeing it. Are you happy you made this movie? 

GB: Yeah.

JN: Really? There’s been some controversy…

GB: Well, I just want to point out—

JN: —surrounding your surfing incident in 2012.

GB: Oh, that. Well, I’m clean now, so…

JN: And we’re all happy about that. Do you think it affected the quality of Chasing Mavericks overall?

GB: You…you saw Chasing Mavericks?

JN: Next question. People are saying that it’s odd for you to be playing an Egyptian God thing considering your non-Egyptian likeness. 

GB: Well, Gods of Egypt is mythology. Not historical fiction.

JN: Please, Gerry, we all know what this is about. How long has this feud between you and Joel Edgerton been going on?

GB: I just don’t understand why he gets a pass for playing Ramses. He’s Australian, which is way farther from Egypt than Scotland.

JN: Well, he did also make The Gift, so I think we like him again. What would you say was your biggest accomplishment of 2015? Besides the DVD sales of How to Train Your Dragon 2.

GB: I spent most of 2015 filming a few new movies that are coming out this year.

JN: That’s right. London is Falling Down comes out next month. 

GB: No, it’s London Has Fallen.

JN: How did you react when Brenda Song from The Suite Life of Zack and Cody was cast as your love interest? 

GB: Confused, but they changed it so…

JN: Do you blame yourself for Gamer

GB: No, I blame Ludacris. Can I talk about Gods of Egypt now?

JN: Is that what you really want. 

GB: You just phrased that question like a statement.

JN: This. Is. A question. 

GB: Gods of Egypt is about characters, you know? And this amazing journey they go on together. One’s a mortal and one’s an immortal—

JN: That’s great and no one cares, but just let me know right now, Gerry. Sequel plans for Phantom of the Opera

GB: …they learn what life is about and what they can learn from each other. And since you brought it up, it’s akin to the relationship between the Phantom and Christine.

JN: You’re Christine in this case? 

GB: No, that would be Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.

JN: Eh? 

GB: Sorry, the Game of Thrones guy. Anyway, it’s fun to be the villain in Gods of Egypt. I get to be such a  badass again.

JN: He reminds me of your character from The Ugly Truth. Wow, how many movies have you done, Gerry? 

GB: Just call me Mr. Butler. And I stopped keeping count in 2006.

JN: Would you say that your character in Gods of Egypt is a personified weapon?

GB: Yes! Exactly, that’s exactly right!

JN: Ha, well then I just won a bet. Hey Adonis, get over here. 

AG: What’s up.

JN: I was right the other day when I said Gerard Butler thinks of his character in Gods of Egypt as a weapon personified.

AG: Is that him over there?

JN: Yeah.

AG: Why does he look so angry?

JN: We were just talking about…

AG: …The Ugly Truth?

(laugh in agreement)

GB: Can I talk about my character, Set, again?

JN: Wait, his name is “Set?”

GB: Yeah, he’s the god of darkness.

JN: And film studio sets? 

AG: No, Jon. He’s clearly the god of volleyball.

JN: Then he would be the god of matches, DONIS. 

GB: He’s the god of darkness!

JN: Seth is? 

GB: No, it’s Set.

JN: But Seth. 

GB: Fine, his name is Seth. Now, his best aspect is how—

JN: This is a real character? Seth, I mean. 

GB: Yes, based on real Egyptian mythology.

AG: That’s offensive to Egyptians.

GB: What, the fact that this movie set in Africa stars two white guys?

AG: No, calling him Seth.

GB: Fine, whatever. Set or “Seth” is the god of storms, the desert, and overall disorder.

JN: Earlier, you said darkness. 

GB: It’s an array of things.

JN: (whispers to Adonis) more like the god of confusion. 

GB: Anyway, Set is just a bad dude and longtime rival of Horus, god of the sky.

JN: He’s the bad guy in the movie? 

GB: No, I am.

JN: Aw, but you’re so sweet. 

GB: (coughs) Well, uh, thank you. Horus is represented by a falcon, and they nail that aesthetic with…with uh…

JN: Game of Thrones guy? 

GB: Yes, thank you.

JN: Is there any…(laughs)…room for romance between your characters? 

GB: What? No! Set—

JN: —Seth

GB: Seth is a dangerous and powerful ruler! He doesn’t love anyone!

JN: (leans over to Adonis) Formulaic. 

AG: I know right.

GB: What makes him unique is the sadness I bring to the character, because he’s very tragic.

JN: So Law Abiding Citizen meets 300

GB: Well…um…I guess.

AG: I’d see that.

JN: Mr. Butler, thank you so much for coming on No More Questions. Can’t wait to have you back for London is Falling Around.

GB: I can.


Gods of Egypt is set to release worldwide on February 26, 2016.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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