Magazine article Variety

Gods of Egypt

Magazine article Variety

Gods of Egypt

Article excerpt


Gods of Egypt

DIRECTOR: Alex Proyas

STARRINGM: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler

At a certain point in "Gods of Egypt," an extravagantly silly foray into Afroasiatic mythology from director Alex Proyas, one wounded deity begs another to show him mercy ... a futile request as far as his enemy is concerned, but one that may strike a more receptive chord with the compassionate viewer (which is to say, any viewer who would buy a ticket to "Gods of Egypt"). Since the film enters theaters already in its death throes - undone by toxic word of mouth, much criticism of its predominantly white cast, and an opening-weekend box office projection of about 10% of its $140 million production budget - perhaps a little kindness would not be misplaced. So here goes: This is by any measure a dreadful movie, a chintzy, CG-encrusted eyesore that oozes stupidity and self-indulgence from every pore. Yet damned if Proyas doesn't put it all out there with a lunatic conviction you can't help but admire, immediately earning this Lionsgate release a place in the 2016 pantheon of gloriously watchable follies.

With its burnt-yellow cinematography, its excessively gilded production design and its blinding flashes of sunlight, "Gods of Egypt" at times doesn't suggest a movie so much as a giant cinematic tanning salon - all the better, perhaps, to darken the pearlescent skin tones of most of the actors on display (an effect that can be further enhanced with your purchase of murk-maximizing 3D glasses). The opening scene sweeps us over the streets, roofs and pyramids of a prosperous ancient Egypt, a kingdom ruled over by the benevolent Osiris (Bryan Brown). For centuries Osiris has allowed his mortal subjects to dwell in harmony with the gods, who tower over everyone, thanks to the latest advances in digital heightmodification technology.

Everything changes, however, at the coronation of Osiris' son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Shortly before the crown can pass, in storms Osiris' jealous brother, the desert god Set (Gerard Butler), who promptly murders the king in full view of the horrified public, then defeats his nephew Horus in a duel, and gouges out his eyes. It all happens so quickly, and with such dynamic "Virtua Fighter"-style whooshings of the camera, that you barely have time to register such head-scratching details as, say, the fact that Set is way too young to be Osiris' brother, or the hilariously unexplained provenance of Butler's Scottish accent.

Some time later, Set has established a reign of terror in which mortals, once free to enter the afterlife, must now buy their way in with treasure. Said mortals have now been sentenced to a lifetime of hard labor, including Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a wily, handsome and quite boring young thief who dreams of freeing Horus from his self-imposed exile. And so, with the help of his fetching lover, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), Bek breaks into the palace's booby-trapped vault and steals back one of Horus' eyes. Sporting a sexy eyepateh, the rightful king determines to seize his revenge against Set and take back the crown.

First, however, Horus must address a few complications, such as the fact that his former squeeze, Hathor (Elodie Yung), is bedding down with his nemesis. Hathor, incidentally, is described in the production notes as "the goddess of love, music and alcohol," which means that she presumably would be in a position to do something about Marco Beltrami's epically tumescent score, or at least to ensure that no one walks into "Gods of Egypt" without a beer in hand. …

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