Wow. Where do I even start?
This is bad. This is REALLY bad. I mean, not Battlefield: Earth level; that film is nearly untouchably bad as far as this reviewer is concerned. However, I’m talking nearly Batman and Robin level of bad. This is the type of movie bad movie nights were designed for.
There is nothing good I can say about Gods of Egypt save this: the people making it, as in those behind the scenes, clearly thought they were making a solid movie. They’re so earnest that if it weren’t for most of the actors clearly not giving a single shit this would be one of the single most entertainingly bad movies I’ve ever seen. Someone clearly cared about this film, and for that reason alone I can’t completely hate on it. That said, it doesn’t *quite* reach the level of so-bad-it’s-good that’ll make it a must-see on bad movie night for years to come, which may be the saddest part of it all if it weren’t for one final fact:
This film cost $140 to make. $175 million if you include marketing.
I have no idea where that money went; maybe they had superb catering. All I know is that it’s clearly not evident on screen.
Some of you may not even know what this film’s about. OK, I guess I should start with that.
Minor spoiler warning, as if you really care.
Egypt is a land populated by both mortal humans and towering gods with gold for blood. The gods have benevolently ruled over the humans for millennia; first Ra (Geoffrey Rush), then Osiris (Bryan Brown), and now with that opening narration out of the way Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is about to assume the throne. Just before Horus is crowned, Set (Gerard Butler) attacks the ceremony, rips out Horus’ all-seeing eyes, and claims the crown for his own.
Several years later, Egypt has become a nation of conquest, with Set raging war against and collecting bounty from those gods who dare oppose him. Bek (Brenton Thwaites) decides he’s going to use his girlfriend’s Zaya’s (Courtney Eaton) connections as assistant to the head architect’s position to examine Set’s store room in order to steal back Horus’ eyes so that maybe the deposed god will return to fight for the humans and free Egypt again. The store room only contains one eye, and while fleeing to Horus’ temple Zaya is fatally shot. Bek makes a deal with Horus to help him recover the remaining eye, and possibly stop Set once and for all, in return for retrieving Zaya back from the land of the dead.
Meanwhile, Set is continuing his war on all the gods who are resisting him, and appears to be taking their key parts — Horus’ eye, Osiris’ Heart, etc — to assemble for himself a suit that will make him near invulnerable. Can Horus and his mortal ally stop Set’s evil plan?
The Everything That Goes Wrong From There
Screw the usual format I use for these reviews; that’s going out the window. Trying to figure out where this film went wrong by category is exercise in futility as EVERYTHING in this film is wrong.
OK, I do have to start somewhere, so let’s start with the laughable effects. As stated, the gods here tower over their human counterparts, but often share the screen with them. Remember how that looked in the Lord of the Rings films? Not bad; sure, the dwarves and hobbits changed heights occasionally, but they still always felt like they were in the same scene as their human counterparts. Not here. I’m not quite sure how they composited the actors into the same shot, but the result looks incredibly fake. It almost looks like they filmed everyone together, and then afterwards went in and digitally stretched or shrunk the actors according to what they thought worked best for the scene.
Then there are the effects on the gods themselves, who as with their mythological counterparts are shapeshifters. Here, their alternate forms appear to be armored beasts, similar to their ancient representations. I honestly think the 90s TV show Animorphs had better visuals for this transition. It looked to me like this armor assumed liquid form and was absorbed by their bodies, perhaps supposedly it was formed from their aforementioned gold blood, but the effect just looks fake.
On a sidenote: it’s nonsensical that gold serves as blood. Yes, I know it’s a fantasy, but considering that this universe still considers gold a valuable commodity, that SHOULD mean that the gods would be constantly trying to kill each other for said gold. The only reason it’s done, I think, was to avoid an R rating red-blood would have brought, and someone probably thought gold blood would look cool instead of paint-like.
Even the actual visuals — the backgrounds, sets, CG characters, etc — look like they were rendered in an early PS2 game. At one point, a pair of assassins show up to kill our heroes, and both are riding snake-like creatures. It’s only while looking at promotional pictures for this review that I realized they’re supposed to be cobras; they are just that poorly conceived. I’m not even going to bother getting into the greenscreen usage here, but suffice to say if you though it was bad in Fant4stic… well, it was, but believe me it’s even worse here. The less I say about Aphosis, the better; let’s just say it’s on the level of of Galactus in Rise of the Silver Surfer or Parallax in Green Lantern and leave it at that.
What next? Oh, how about the horrible dialog! As I said, the movie opens with the ceremony to crown Horus king, and I hope you have a good memory because this is where EVERY god in the picture is introduced. As each comes up to give respect to Horus, both their name and function are stated. For the vast majority of them, that’s all you’re going to get for character development. That’s not even the worst of it — trying to understand the afterlife described here is is an exercise in futility. However, for all the exposition that is in this movie, it honestly feels like the audience STILL needs to have a decent understanding of the base mythology to follow along, but if you DO have that base knowledge there’s no much changed that I can only imagine how annoyed it would make you feel. I only had a passing knowledge going in, and after reading up some more afterwards it’s so badly mangled it makes most, “based on a true story” movies look accurate by comparison.
I think I’m running out of points to cover. The acting is all stilted and jarring, as if most of the actors knew they were in a terrible film and didn’t care. The music is overbearing, and the sound mix makes it difficult to hear — I STILL have no idea what the answer to the Sphinx’ riddle was, as it was drowned out by the noise. The only people who seemed to care about this film were those behind the camera and behind the effects, who seemed to think they were working on a masterpiece and utterly, UTTERLY failed.
I would loved to say I hated watching this, but while can’t legitimately call this an entertaining film, I did have fun watching this for all the WRONG reasons. The worst films I saw last year all had me much madder at them than this, as those were just insultingly bad. This is just mostly sincere incompetence on display for the world to see. I can honestly say this is the best BAD movie I’ve watched in quite some time. While I would wholeheartedly say AVOID watching this in a theatre, if you’re the type who enjoys riffing on a bad movie with your friends, this is a film to add to your rotation.