The problem with Gods of Egypt, whitewashing and cultural insensitivity aside, is that it’s just so interminably boring. Somehow Alex Proyas, director of cult goth hits like Dark City and The Crow, has taken Egyptian mythology, a source material so rich the Stargate franchise was able to squeeze ten seasons and movie out of it, and turn out a barely serviceable hero’s journey set against the backdrop of some weak Hamlet style family drama.
All of the elements required are here. A fallen Egyptian god is forced into exile and must swallow his pride and reacquire his power with the help of a lowly mortal. Pretty good launch pad for a decent hero’s journey. Mixed into that is some family drama featuring resentful brothers and backstabbing gods. Swap gods with lions and you’ve got basically the plot of The Lion King. But oh The Lion King just did it so much better.
The beautiful, expensive looking CGI is so immersion-breaking it leaves you wondering why they didn’t just make an animated movie. The fact that every scene was clearly shot in front of a green screen is written across the awkward face of every actor struggling to put in a believable performance – with the exception of Gerard Butler, who chews the digitally rendered scenery with all the gusto of a latter day King Leonidas in shiny black armour.
The writing and most of the performances smack of laziness. A lazy, uncoordinated plot that wrecks the pacing and leaves the viewer watching something that feels like it could’ve been assembled by a child. Lots of “then they go here and meet this person so they can do that thing and after they fight that guy but when they beat him they go here and meet that person.”
The comedy, what little there is, is awkward at best, and serves only to reinforce how little effort was put into actually scripting this thing or fleshing out the characters. None of the emotional beats pay off because the movie never gives us a reason to care about what’s happening to any of the characters. The beginning rushes through itself and the ending drags out well past its welcome.
What makes all of this so disappointing is the potential Gods of Egypt had to be great. The solar boat of Ra, the Nine Gates of the Underworld, Set as the Jackal and Horus as the Falcon – are all beautiful realised and rendered. Proyas made at least some effort to capture the fantastic mythological material visually, if not narratively. Which is a shame, because – again, whitewashing aside – visually Gods of Egypt is quite a treat. Less spectacle, more story, and this could’ve been a first-rate retelling of the Myth of Osiris. Instead it’s yet another Hollywood blockbuster that spent its entire sizeable budget on CGI and overpaid white actors.