Genre: Action and Adventure, Fantasy
Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Young, Courtney Eaton, Brenton Thwaites
Release Date: February 26th, 2016
Eddie the Eagle Review
Gods of Egypt is an over-the-top, web
superficial, and flashy drama. It’s also a lot of fun. Directed by Alex Proyas, the feature has received a lot of criticism for its outlandish plot and sensationalized look. What seems to be missing though is that the film isn’t supposed to be a serious dramatization of an Egyptian story. It’s supposed to be a goofy and escapist adventure and the film accomplishes that goal.
Set in ancient Egypt, the film tells the story of a young man who befriends a god in order to bring peace to the realm after a despotic god takes control. The fresh-faced Brenton Thwaites, who previously did great work in The Giver and Oculus, stars here as the thieving mortal Bek.
Bek is a young man who only wishes to impress his girlfriend Zaya (Courtney Eaton). At an event where the god Osiris (Bryan Brown) hopes to peacefully hand over his throne and his kingdom to his muscled son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a mutiny ensues. Osiris’ brother Set (Gerard Butler) overwhelms the city, bringing the peaceful kingdom to its knees. In a well-staged and dramatic sequence, Set kills Osiris and removes Horus’ eyes — the source of much of his power. Horus is emasculated and goes into hiding.
The rest of the story continues from there as Bek — who watches as his beloved Zaya becomes enslaved to an abusive architect — decides to take action. Like some underdog characters of the past, Bek has no powers. In a world where the gods are double the height of humans and can transform into winged creatures, Bek is just a man trying to save his loved one. As Bek, Thwaites has an easy charm that translates well when his character has to take on foes bigger and more powerful than he.
The film features a traditional heroes’ journey but it offers a few really fun action sequences that are reminiscent of scenes from National Treasure or Indiana Jones films. One can tell that Proyas was aiming for a film like that. At times, the formula works but at other times, the over-the-top explanations and characters don’t fit in. One example of that is Ra (Geoffrey Rush), a god in outer space — yes, there are a few space sequences in this movie about ancient Egypt — but the film has enough solid qualities to overcome even some of its biggest faults.
Where other special effects-laden films falter is in their devout seriousness to the material. The script here by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless doesn’t falter in that regard. There’s a humorous self-awareness that permeates the dialogue, especially Bek’s one-liners. “Would it kill you to say please,” he asks one god who could destroy him in a moment. Later on, during a dramatic action sequence, he notes “Stop congratulating yourself. You’ve got some more protecting to do.”
Even Thoth (Chadwick Boseman) — a god of knowledge — has a few great lines here. Surrounded by clones that he made of himself, he asks “How vain do you think I am?” This comes after this supposed genius spends his time philosophizing about lettuce.
Movies like Gods of Egypt aren’t meant to be super-serious endeavors. This is a fun adventure movie that might be a bit too bloated for its own good but it’s still a funny and entertaining film. Thwaites is a charming and mischievous lead actor and even when the film makes a few mistakes, he’s there to keep the proceedings moving at an eager pace.
Review by: John Hanlon