"Abandon all thoughts of ancient Egypt, ye who enter this movie theater." That refrain kept running through my mind yesterday as I sat and watched the ridiculous, 1950's type B movie with 1990's videogame-style CGI, laughably entitled "Gods of Egypt."
I had really debated whether to go see this or not. I knew it was going to be bad from the previews and the controversy over the insensitive casting choices. I didn't want to support it with my ticket money but I finally decided that since I write romantic fantasies set in ancient Egypt myself, and since Carina Press branded my series as "Gods of Egypt" in 2012, I probably should see it.
There were only five of us brave souls in the giant theater.
First, the casting. Maybe in the 1950's the studios could get away with every person in the ancient World being portrayed by a European but as I watched Gerard Butler the Scot play the god Set and blond haired (!) Emma Booth of Australia play the goddess Nephthys, along with a host of other equally inappropriate choices - I don't know which was worse - Geoffrey Rush as Ra or Bryan Brown as Osiris - it was jarring. Chadwick Boseman as the god Thoth was amusing and appropriately cast but he was the one nod to casting that made historical sense, you know? Oh wait, there were other Black actors and actresses scattered throughout the scenes, even a few in minor speaking roles but trust me, it didn't help. I'm not criticizing the quality of the acting. I think the actors turned in workmanlike performances with the dialog they had and the green screen they probably performed in front of. (Did Butler have to bellow every line in "300" style though?) But hello - why not Idris Elba? In ANY of the major roles - the man is a force of nature. He could slay the role of Egyptian diety. Lupita Nyong'o? GuGu Mbatha-Raw (I loved her in "Belle" and "Beyond the Lights"). Queen Latifah? Gabrielle Union? Don Cheadle? Michael B. Jordan? Yasmine al-Massri would embody an Egyptian goddess (or the main human love interest in this flick) with power...ok, I won't belabor the issue but suffice it to say, all the Australian and European choices didn't help the movie's case.
Moving beyond that, ancient Egypt was really nowhere to be found here, except for a few names tossed in, some seriously mangled bits of mythology and a vague influence on set design. Oh and giant scarab beetles. Pyramids on the horizon every now and then.
I had the feeling someone once read a kids' version of Egyptian mythology, said, "Hey this is just like the Greek myths" and took off to write a clueless movie.
There were several very cool sequences. Ra's sunboat sailing the skies was a fascinating take on the myth. (Not Ra himself, just the boat.) And the whole chase scene with the two giant cobralike creatures was nifty. I also liked parts of Bek the Human Hero's trip through the pyramid to retrieve one of Horus's eyes. (But it was very oldstyle videogamelike.)
The terribly incorrect and inauthentic and just plain BAD sequences around the ancient Egyptian concept of the Underworld and the Afterlife had me talking back to the screen. As did the goddess Hathor, who happens to be one of my favorites in the Egyptian pantheon normally. I'm just glad the filmmakers left Sobek the Crocodile God out of this mess altogether. (He's the hero in my novel Priestess of the Nile. And no in my story, he doesn't have gold blood or turn into a weird metal-looking thing to do battle or any of ALL the strangeness in this movie.)
Let's talk the human hero. He and his girlfriend seemed like they wandered in from a sweet Young Adult novel. Zero chemistry, chaste kisses, kind of happy go lucky no matter what awful things happened. Lame wisecracks galore. She was supposed to be a big believer in the gods. If so, she was the only one. I don't think the gods believed in themselves here.
Apparently all ancient Egyptians were liberally bespangled in sequins by the way.
My ultimate verdict? This is a mess of a movie, badly plotted, not well conceived, and the moments worth watching were few and far between. This trailer has a few glimpses of the moments I did like, along with a lot of the bad...