So finally, a long time after the US we get the chance to witness Gods Of Egypt. And I must confess that fantasy films based in myth are something of a guilty pleasure of mine.
But before I get into the film itself, I have to address one of the big issues that the film brought up, Hollywood Whitewashing. This is clearly a big issue in films at the minute, and considering that white guys, despite the film’s Egyptian setting, play all the central three characters of this film so this film is certain guilty of it. The problem is that it all comes down to money. Even when POC should be in main roles there often isn’t a star big enough that a studio will cast them. Because studios don’t care about the representation, only making as much money as possibly from a movie. What makes Gods of Egypt a strange one then for me is that Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who I am a fan of, is hardly a box office star and isn’t going to open a movie to big numbers, so they could have easily, and should have, cast someone of the correct ethnic background given the film’s ancient Egyptian setting. It’s a big complicated issue, and I am not the best person to talk about it, there are people who are far better qualified to talk about it (It was suggested that I mention Akala’s talk at the Oxford Union which can be found on YouTube if you are interested).
Right so to the film. And Gods of Egypt is a fairly generic fantasy film. The story sees Horus (Coster-Waldau) is usurped on his coronation day by his uncle Set (Gerard Butler), who steals his eyes. One of Horus’ eyes are stolen by a human named Bek (Brenton Thwaites), and together Bek and Horus set to defeat Set. Pretty standard stuff. Honestly I think a much cooler story would have been some version of the myth when Set tore Osiris into various parts and scattered him across Egypt, which had to be reassembled. In the end the actual story they had probably had enough legs for about an hour and a half, which meant that Gods of Egypt really dragged towards the end. Oh and without wanting to spoil too much, the ending includes a giant cloud monster. SERIOUSLY? Have people who make films learned nothing from Fantastic Four 2 or Green Lantern? That does not make for a compelling ending, OK the film had Set alongside it, but still, it brought some bad films to mind.
The film did employ some talented actors. Like I said earlier I am a fan of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, his work on Game of Thrones just proves how talented an actor he is. I also like Gerard Butler, and he really hams it up here, and Chadwick Boseman, who plays Thoth. But all these performances are fairly one note. The one performance that I think exceeded the quality of the film was Élodie Yung’s as Hathor. I wasn’t a big fan of Brenton Thwaites’ performance as Bek. He never really offered anything in the role, and at times when he should have brought some emotion to the scene, he was very bland. But part of that may come down to the direction, it’s hard to tell, either way it did hurt the film.
Obviously in Gods of Egypt action is a hugely important part. In the fantasy action genre the action part can often struggle to feel realistic. And that’s a big issue with Gods of Egypt. So much of the action is a CGI heavy, blurry mess that is quite hard to follow. There is one very cool scene that looks great, which is the one with the two giant snakes. This was one of the absolute high points of the film. Some of the other CGI in the film does look pretty good as well. The gods being made to look much taller than the normal people worked well, and I thought Anubis is particular looked fantastic.
But for the most part I was actually disappointed in Gods of Egypt. I do usually enjoy these kinds of films, but I found a lot of Gods and Egypt dull, which is criminal for a fantasy action film. I didn’t expect a huge amount from it, but it still disappointed me.