Gods of Egypt (2016)

A review by Nalini Haynes

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau narrates the opening in a slightly queer voice. It’s delicious. I hope the rest of the movie proves just as camp as the opening. Then the voice changes; I’m not sure if they changed narrator or he just changed his style of speaking to cover the fact that Horus is narrating as if he’s the thief Bek.

Horus drags himself out of bed, hung over, flashing his pecs and abs before flopping into an enormous bath to be scrubbed by gorgeous slave girls. When one extends her hand DOWNWARDS, Jamie stops her then realizes she’s his beloved Hathor (Elodie Yung), the goddess of love. Awww.

The gods, apparently, have gold running through their veins. Jaime Lannister as Horus has gold in his veins instead of pissing gold or having a golden hand. “Prick me, do I not bleed?” Yup, you sure do: you bleed shiny yellow stuff.

Zaya’s (Courtney Eaton) dress is so low-cut her boobs want to pop out and say hello. I’d be surprised if she doesn’t need tape to hold the dress in place. Most of the women’s dresses are low cut and some clothes are even skimpier like Hathor’s negligee, worn while adventuring. In contrast, Horus’s adventuring costume covers more skin in the chest area than most women’s robes and conceals far more body than Hathor’s scanty garb. Not only does Gods of Egypt fail the Bechdel Test but it sends a clear message: women are sex objects only here to motivate men to heroic deeds.

Set (Gerard Butler [shudder]) is wearing so much makeup it looks like he’s doing Arab-face. Although the other leading men are white, at least they’re not in PoCface. (People of Color face. Can’t quite call it blackface because Arabs aren’t that dark.) Butler’s lopsided mouth movements and accent are even more incongruous with his makeup, emphasizing the poor casting, casting me out of the story. Repeatedly.

The God of Wisdom, Thoth (Chadwick Boseman), is the only man of color with a role of any importance and even his is a minor role. It’s disappointing that Gods of Egypt has so completely whitewashed Egypt, especially after Stargate SG1 demonstrated how the Egyptian pantheon should be portrayed with many gorgeous men of color in key roles. At least some of the women — most notably Hathor — has some non-white lineage.

Earth is depicted in shades of Discworld: a flat disc with water falling off the sides while Ra rides his ship, pulling the sun across the sky. The producers have taken a leaf out of Sir Terry’s books.

Ra’s ship looks suspiciously like Moya from Farscape combined with other fantastical science fiction space ships. Ra looks suspiciously like Barbossa, possibly because he is Geoffrey Rush.

Ra battles a leviathan Apophis like a sailor harpooning a whale. Except he’s driving Apophis away instead of pulling him on board to, y’know, harvest his body parts. Apophis looks like a bloody great sea anemone with thick dark pollution following in its wake.

Big bugs are mounts crossing a bridge. This scene and many other sets look like something from World of Warcraft. The dead are judged and pass on to the afterlife from the plateau in Icecrown where one becomes a Kingslayer. It’s a switch that someone has emulated something from WoW instead of the other way around.

There’s even a scene from Donkey Kong 64 with Horus and Set fighting around the pinnacle of a pyramid. I could almost hear the sound effects from the game.

Anyone familiar with science fiction or fantasy books and TV/movies will recognize swathes of Gods of Egypt: the plots, the visuals, the characters. “There’s a Hobbit! That’s a computer game…” Most have been done better, with more flair. At times Gods of Egypt nails the dialogue (especially in the beginning) but, once it’s suckered you in, it substitutes big names for character, banter and, y’know, an engaging plot. Gods of Egypt feels a bit like The Chronicles of Riddick: a great idea but, in an attempt to be epic, falls short of its potential.

Pundemonium

Bek enters Osiris’s tomb to talk to Horace who asks, “What are you, a thief?”
Minion: “‘I’m here to give you your hand back.’ Because he’s there to give him a hand.”

Me: “The thief’s name is Bek. That explains why he’s at Horace’s beck and call.”
Minion: “I’m proud of you.”

As Set’s house collapses, the minion says, “It’s the Egyptian version of a pyramid of cards.”

Then: “The death scene was done with a Rush.”

“In this movie he’s a kingslayer. Some things never change.”

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Director: Alex Proyas
Writers: Matt Sazama, Burk Sharpless
Stars: Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler
Running time: 2 hours 6 minutes
Watch this if you liked: Stargate SG1
Review copy: Entertainment One

Gods of Egypt — Horus and Set fight. Lots of gold-colored god blood splashes around