#REVIEW: “GODS OF EGYPT”
Review by Siobhán Rich for Mr. Will Wong
Stories of brave mortals, true love, petty gods, and the fate of the world balancing on the head of a pin aren’t new. Casting young, good looking people with posh British accents in these roles isn’t new either. Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (together Dracula Untold and Last Witch Hunter) have taken two slightly unusual turns in this familiar tale: the young mortal isn’t a demi-god or otherwise imbued with supernatural powers, and the gods are not denizens of Olympus but rather Egypt.
In Gods of Egypt, the gods are easy to keep track of as they stand taller than mortals they rule over and have gold running through their veins rather than blood. They are also subject to family squabbles that naturally impact the mortals who revere them. As the movie opens, Gerard Butler’s Set has moved to take over the kingdom of Egypt in the time honoured tradition of duplicity, fratricide, and attempted murder. His nephew Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Walau) puts up a brave CGI-enabled fight but is left destitute and enucleated. Drawn from his temple of self-pity by the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites), Horus begins a quest to regain his crown and seek vengeance on Set.
While the bickering of unsympathetic gods fails to ever fully engage the audience, the love story between the thief Bek and his beloved Zaya (Courtney Eaton) serves to keep the story grounded in a very human desire for redemptive love.
One of the few non-white actors in this ancient Egyptian playground is Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, the god of knowledge. Soon to be seen as the Black Panther, Boseman’s lightly comedic take on the deity is a welcome relief to the overtop posturing on the part of his costars.
Director Alex Proyas has included all of the expected Egyptian tropes including obelisks (built by Rufus Sewell’s Urshu), pyramids whose peaks are ideal for climactic fight scenes, untranslated hieroglyphics, slaves pulling massive stones, and even a riddle-posing sphynx. The most amusing nod to ancient dogmas is the visual of a flat earth as seen from Geoffrey Rush’s perch in space where Ra battles daily to keep chaos from engulfing the world.
Gods of Egypt has the sort of CGI mastery audiences have come to expect from Movies set in ancient times. Unfortunately, it also has the white actors they have come to expect from movies set in North Africa. It is difficult to say if this Movie would have an improved reception were it cast differently but that is a question only time and Box Office receipts can answer.
eOne Films release Gods of Egypt on Friday, February 26, 2016.