Critic’s Corner: “Gods of Egypt” is God Awful

Scott Johnson
Staff Writer

Listen, Hollywood, we need to talk…

This thing you’re doing—you know, the whole whitewashing thing? It needs to stop. You’d think this year’s Academy Awards would have been indicative enough for you, but clearly it hasn’t since we’ve got another racist film creeping out of your jumble of CGI-crammed films that nobody cares for anymore.

Take this new movie “Gods of Egypt”—notice that “Egypt” part? Why isn’t there a single Egyptian in the film? The world isn’t all white, so why does Hollywood continue to think that the misrepresentation of entire countries and populations is okay?

What? There are black people in the film? That certainly took Hollywood long enough, but it’s far too late to be congratulating them on that. They can apologize all they want and say that they’ll do better next time, but until there’s a change this kind of behavior is unacceptable.

“Gods of Egypt” represents everything wrong with Hollywood. It’s a big, white and loud mess of an action movie that, for the most part, is horribly incomprehensible because it requires the audience to have an absurdly in-depth knowledge of Egyptian mythology. For instance, in the film, Ra is depicted as a white dude (Geoffrey Rush) who lives in a space castle and must frequently fend off a space-monster that would otherwise destroy humanity. For the character to make any sort of sense, a background in mythology is practically a prerquisite—but even then the fact that he’s a Caucasian Egyptian god makes little sense.

The film follows the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites of “The Giver”) and the god Horus (“Game of Throne’s” Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as they fight against Horus’ usurping uncle, Set (Gerard Butler) who killed his king-brother to take Egypt’s rule. While this may sound like a thrilling Shakespearean tale of betrayal and revenge, it really is an over-CGI’d debacle of unexplained plot points, characters and locations. The heroes move through a nearly barren world, discovering bizarre locales that are seldom named and seem to only serve the purpose of “building” the world without actually giving it life.

As the characters move from point A to point B, not a lot is actually explained as the story occasionally shifts from the unenthusiastic Coster-Waldau and overenthusiastic Thwaites, to Butler recycling his over-the-top Leonidas performance. There’s also a subplot that takes place in the “afterlife” as Bek’s love, Zaya (Courtney Eaton) struggles to make it back to the land of the living.

Director Alex Proyas and the screenwriters forget that just because the story and characters are clear in their heads, doesn’t mean it is crystal in the audiences’. Hardly anything is done to clarify the jumbled script full of shoddy dialogue which includes lines like, “Kill the desert.” Did I forget to mention that the Gods in the film can magically transform into metallic beasts? The film tries to explain it in its opening moments, but come on…

Though it might be pretty to look at, the CGI often fails in high-paced scenes as they considerably blur up, making any action sequences jarring and unwatchable, especially during the film’s chaotic climax. It is explained that the Gods are much larger than mortals, resulting in the special effects trying to emulate what “Lord of the Rings” did with the Hobbits—but it looks goofy and unrealistic. It really beats me how a film that is close to twenty-years-old, like “Fellowship of the Ring” still has better effects than some movies being produced today.

I will give “Gods of Egypt” one small tip-of-the-hat. As far as stories go, there is at least some sort of satisfaction that comes at the end, albeit it comes after a horrible cacophony of wonky CGI, two-dimensional characters and too many unexplained places and people. It almost makes the journey worth it.

With the exception of Thwaites, who tries to have as much fun with the script as possible, Butler and Coster-Waldau phone-in their lines, offering up hardly an iota of excitement to be part the film. I can’t imagine how much this will pad their wallets considering it is on track to be a massive flop.

“Gods of Egypt” is an awful reminder of what Hollywood has become—a whitewashed, CGI-glossed world of action, bland characters and ridiculous storylines. In many ways it’s like a turd: you can polish it, add color and sparkles, dunk it in gold, and make it look as pretty as possible, but at the end of the day, it’s still just a turd.

Scott may be reached at [email protected]