On the other side of the fence, there's a mortal named Bek (Brenton Thwaites). He's pretty much a whiter version of Aladdin. He steals things and has a really pretty girlfriend (Courtney Eaton) who he loves. When Set takes over, Zaya (Bek's girlfriend) is forced into slavery, leaving Bek to try to find a way to set her free. So he goes to Set's tomb/lair/place where he keeps Horus' eyes, and he steals one of them. He manages to free Zaya, but while they're riding off, her captor (Rufus Sewell) shoots and kills her. Bek takes her to Horus and begs him to save her, yet by then, it's too late. To save Egypt and Zaya, Bek and Horus must team up and take down Set once and for all.
But despite the sheer visual insanity of Gods of Egypt, I was incredibly bored while watching this film. I was bored because I didn't care about a single one of the characters. I was bored because the film is overlong to an absurd extent. And most of all, I was bored because the plot is tediously rote, mashing the usual Joseph Campbell mythology with a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy sensibility that doesn't work in any way. Gods of Egypt is currently sitting at 13% on Rotten Tomatoes and 23 on Metacritic. This film doesn't deserve that. Because while it's certainly not good, it's an interesting failure at the least. The director of the film, Alex Proyas, went on a bit of a rant last week calling out critics for what he considered to be unfair and deplorable behavior against his film, referring to them as "diseased vultures." Part of that makes me want to lay into this film with everything I've got. Instead, I'm going to maintain the set of critical principles that I've always had- review a film wholly and honestly, analyzing what works and what doesn't.
Even with its visual flaws, the Achilles heel of Gods of Egypt comes in the form of the story and the characters. Y'know, two things that are kinda important. The plot is both overly simple and convoluted as all hell, mixing high fantasy and basic storytelling in a way that falls flat. There are so many MacGuffins in Gods of Egypt that lead nowhere and so many things that are left unexplained that it's just frustrating at a point. Look, I didn't expect too much of a plot, but I was constantly asking myself questions like "Wait, why are they going there?" or "Why is this happening?" or "What is that thing?" It's a movie that just doesn't make sense cohesive sense when it boils down to it.
I will always have some admiration for a film cut from original cloth. In a world dominated by superheroes and franchises, I think it's noble for any studio or any filmmaker to make a unique big-budget movie that takes risks and doesn't play it safe. But that sense of loyalty to original films only stretches so far. Gods of Egypt is interesting in that it tries new things and explores new genre mash-ups, which can sometimes make it a maniacal pleasure to watch. But it's also nearly indefensible. On almost all basic filmmaking levels, from story cohesion to character development, it just does not work. If there's one lesson to learn from this film, it's that more does not always equal more. Gods of Egypt may be humongous in scale, but it's utterly forgettable because it skips the basic levels of storytelling. In the ironic words of George Lucas: "A special effect without a story is a pretty boring thing."
THE FINAL GRADE: C- (5/10)
Image Credits: Variety, Guardian, Screen Rant, Telegraph, Joblo