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Yes, These Things Actually Happen In "Gods Of Egypt"

Alex Proyas's fantasy of ancient Egypt is 2016's first big bomb. Sometimes it's a glorious trainwreck — and sometimes it's a genuinely infuriating one.

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1. Gerard Butler just goes with the Scottish accent.

Most of Gods of Egypt's cast members decided that mortals and deities in a fantasyland version of ancient Egypt would speak with the English-ish accent that period pictures use to signal they're set in the past. The notable exceptions are Chadwick Boseman, whose god of wisdom Thoth opts for an excruciatingly unidentifiable but still vaguely theatrical cadence, and Gerard Butler, who decides his own Scottish brogue will do just fine for his god of the desert Set, regardless of what the rest of the cast is up to.There's something magnificent about the scene in which Set wades through the worshipful crowd at the coronation of a new god-king, opens his mouth, and lets out an apology for being late that makes it sound like Butler just wandered into the scene by accident. It's so "fuck it," he might as well be wearing jeans. He clearly felt that megalomaniacal living gods with daddy issues who can transform into dog-headed metallic forms can talk however they want. And who would argue the point?
Lionsgate

Most of Gods of Egypt's cast members decided that mortals and deities in a fantasyland version of ancient Egypt would speak with the English-ish accent that period pictures use to signal they're set in the past. The notable exceptions are Chadwick Boseman, whose god of wisdom Thoth opts for an excruciatingly unidentifiable but still vaguely theatrical cadence, and Gerard Butler, who decides his own Scottish brogue will do just fine for his god of the desert Set, regardless of what the rest of the cast is up to.

There's something magnificent about the scene in which Set wades through the worshipful crowd at the coronation of a new god-king, opens his mouth, and lets out an apology for being late that makes it sound like Butler just wandered into the scene by accident. It's so "fuck it," he might as well be wearing jeans. He clearly felt that megalomaniacal living gods with daddy issues who can transform into dog-headed metallic forms can talk however they want. And who would argue the point?

2. The actors playing the gods have all been sized up by 80%.

Gods of Egypt reportedly cost $140 million, but can look startlingly cheap. The CGI is omnipresent and rickety, and some of the sets have the stageyness of a '50s biblical epic. But every once in a while, there's an effect that evokes the more charming hokeyness of the 1981 Clash of the Titans — and that effect is that all of the gods are several feet taller than all of the mortals. It's consistently silly looking, like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus (god of the sky) and Elodie Yung as Hathor (goddess of love) were just sized up in Photoshop. But it's also more memorable than the blur of impossible computer-generated cityscapes.
Lionsgate

Gods of Egypt reportedly cost $140 million, but can look startlingly cheap. The CGI is omnipresent and rickety, and some of the sets have the stageyness of a '50s biblical epic. But every once in a while, there's an effect that evokes the more charming hokeyness of the 1981 Clash of the Titans — and that effect is that all of the gods are several feet taller than all of the mortals. It's consistently silly looking, like Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Horus (god of the sky) and Elodie Yung as Hathor (goddess of love) were just sized up in Photoshop. But it's also more memorable than the blur of impossible computer-generated cityscapes.

3. The Earth is flat.

Lionsgate

(Call B.o.B!) Director Alex Proyas isn't some movie noob — the man directed the 1994 goth kid classic The Crow, the solid Will Smith effort I, Robot, and the sci-fi noir mindfuck Dark City, a film that came out a year before The Matrix in 1998 and comes close to beating the Wachowskis movie at its own game. And while Gods of Egypt is a trainwreck, the feverish inventiveness of the imagery in Dark City occasionally glimmers through, like in the scenes in which we see that the world in which the movie takes place is flat, an archaic idea of the layout of the universe brought to evocative life.

4. Geoffrey Rush lives on a space boat and fights a chaos worm.

So yes, sometimes Gods of Egypt has fascinatingly go-for-broke visuals. Other times, 1997 Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, in liver spots, white robes, and a French braid as sun god Ra, glowers on his boat in space between breaks fighting chaos, as represented by a toothy cloud worm.
Liongate

So yes, sometimes Gods of Egypt has fascinatingly go-for-broke visuals. Other times, 1997 Oscar winner Geoffrey Rush, in liver spots, white robes, and a French braid as sun god Ra, glowers on his boat in space between breaks fighting chaos, as represented by a toothy cloud worm.

5. There's an ancient Egyptian skyscraper.

Set has an obelisk erected that is more than 2,000 cubits tall, according to his architect (Rufus Sewell) — and all without the use of construction cranes. That height would put it above 432 Park Avenue, the obnoxiously expensive Manhattan residential skyscraper it somehow recalls.
Lionsgate

Set has an obelisk erected that is more than 2,000 cubits tall, according to his architect (Rufus Sewell) — and all without the use of construction cranes. That height would put it above 432 Park Avenue, the obnoxiously expensive Manhattan residential skyscraper it somehow recalls.

6. It features people of color, but almost none of them get to speak.

Gods of Egypt is a fantasy. Obviously. It takes place on an Earth that's a flat disk, it includes visits to the land of the dead, and it features nine-foot-tall gods with gold blood who do a lot of bickering, and who are majority white, like bland mortal pair Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and Zaya (Courtney Eaton). Proyas, after apologizing for his whitewashing, has defended his choices in part by saying his film isn't at all meant to be historically accurate. But this is a film that borrows the aspects of a culture it deems exciting while leaving behind the actual humans from whom that culture sprung. It pulls from mythology and imagery of the time, then inserts magic, literal gods among men, like blue-eyed, blonde-haired Dane Coster-Waldau, with the implication being that these tweaks were all to make the story more interesting. If, in fantasy, anything is possible, then having almost all of your main characters be white is an active choice, something positioned as an improvement. If, in fantasy, anything is possible, that just underscores that the movie starts with a sea of people of color cheering for the white gods above them by design. The extras in the crowd scenes and those playing servants in the background are more diverse than the main cast — people of color are used as wordless set dressing. But freed from the bounds of history and those who participated it, Gods of Egypt leaps right for the opportunity to cast Australian beefcake. It's not exactly a tribute to the power of imagination.
Lionsgate

Gods of Egypt is a fantasy. Obviously. It takes place on an Earth that's a flat disk, it includes visits to the land of the dead, and it features nine-foot-tall gods with gold blood who do a lot of bickering, and who are majority white, like bland mortal pair Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and Zaya (Courtney Eaton).

Proyas, after apologizing for his whitewashing, has defended his choices in part by saying his film isn't at all meant to be historically accurate. But this is a film that borrows the aspects of a culture it deems exciting while leaving behind the actual humans from whom that culture sprung. It pulls from mythology and imagery of the time, then inserts magic, literal gods among men, like blue-eyed, blonde-haired Dane Coster-Waldau, with the implication being that these tweaks were all to make the story more interesting.

If, in fantasy, anything is possible, then having almost all of your main characters be white is an active choice, something positioned as an improvement. If, in fantasy, anything is possible, that just underscores that the movie starts with a sea of people of color cheering for the white gods above them by design. The extras in the crowd scenes and those playing servants in the background are more diverse than the main cast — people of color are used as wordless set dressing. But freed from the bounds of history and those who participated it, Gods of Egypt leaps right for the opportunity to cast Australian beefcake. It's not exactly a tribute to the power of imagination.

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