Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler
The survival of mankind hangs in the balance when the merciless God of darkness Set (Butler) seizes the throne of Egypt. A mortal named Bek (Thwaites) forms an unlikely alliance with the powerful God Horus, the rightful king of Egypt, (Coster-Waldau) to save both the woman he loves, and indeed the world.
Apart from those who have been living under a rock for the last 12 months, the rest of us will know that not only is Gods of Egypt widely regarded as one of the worst films of 2016, but also that director Alex Proyas has very publicly declared war on film critics, and indeed anyone who dares say a bad word about this film. Well, the problem is that Gods of Egypt is unfortunately utter rubbish. To put things into context; this is not the worst film of 2016 and it does entertain on some very basic level, but this level is very much the wrong level.
The ingredients are all there for this film to be a rip-roaring fantasy-action-epic (as I am sure Alex Proyas wanted it to be), as story-wise Gods of Egypt is in isolation no different from so many films of this genre that have existed since filmmaking begun. Indeed, the initial story is not the problem, as this is very much a tried and tested, generic story. However the first process of telling this story is of course writing the script, and a film like this does depend a lot on the quality of its script as this can shape so much of the viewer’s experience of the film and how we can relate to the characters as they embark on their supposedly epic journey. Unfortunately, the script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless is shockingly bad beyond both belief and description, and this sets the standard for the film as a viewing experience.
Now, there have been worse films in 2016 than Gods of Egypt, and this is only because it has a few (very, very minor saving graces). Firstly, there are constant attempts at comedy in the script proving that this is a film that wants to be fun and does not take itself too seriously. However, the problem is that the supposed ‘comedy’ is so badly written that the only laughs produced are very much AT the film, and most certainly never WITH! In fact, some of the supposedly more humorous moments in the dialogue are so cringe inducingly bad that it makes God of Egypt almost feel like a spoof.
Alas, it is not a spoof, and is just a painfully bad example of the action epic genre when it is done very badly. The dialogue; whether it be apparent comedy, character development or actual serious exposition is painfully bad, and the actors often do look quite embarrassed as they deliver the clunky and embarrassing dialogue.
Not only is the dialogue embarrassingly hideous, but visually Gods of Egypt is also a horribly disconcerting experience for all involved; this film has a very respectable budget, but at times the CGI is horrendously bad, while many of the fight sequences are captured with a camera spinning in circles (very much unnecessarily) like it feels like playing a game of Tekken on the first PlayStation console. Occasionally Proyas decides to slow things down to The Matrix style bullet time, but this just makes things even more cringe-inducing as it not only emphasises how hideously bad the CGI is, but just how bad the script is, and that the fight scenes of the film just feel like a drawing and the boss level of a computer game, but without the emotional engagement.
Meanwhile we of course have the predominantly Caucasian cast, and what is even more bizarre is that all involved make the creative choice of having the Gods being much taller than humans. Okay, so this as in initial makes some kind of sense, and Peter Jackson proved that you can make it work. However, the height differences between God and Human are hideously and very noticeably inconsistent. Though this adds some element of humour to the film as a viewing experience, it certainly begs the question of why they bothered then not actually making the effort to keep it this way, maybe they just hoped the audience wouldn’t notice. It isn’t exactly there is an engaging story to distract us!
The performances range from stoic, to scenery chewing, to genuinely cannot-be-bothered. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is undoubtedly a genuinely charismatic screen presence, and though this means that his character of Horus is likeable, it is not enough compared to the hideous dialogue that he is forced to spout out. Likewise, Brendan Thwaites is plucky and likeable enough as the mortal hero of the film, but the dialogue he is given is embarrassing to watch too. This is a shame, there is an element of on-screen chemistry between them.
In 300 Gerard Butler proved to everyone that he knew how to shout (in Scottish), well since then he has either turned up in terrible romantic comedies or even more terrible action films. Indeed, his name on the cast list has basically become an indicator that a film is going to be bad, as he is not only a terrible actor, but he also tends to pick equally terrible scripts. Well, in Gods of Egypt he shouts a lot (in Scottish of course), but his performance as an actor is an abysmal and laughable pantomime style that begs the question if he wants any sauce with all the scenery that he is furiously chewing.
Surprisingly, there are actors that put in worse performances than Gerard Butler; Geoffrey Rush genuinely looks like he cannot be bothered and just wants to pick up his enormous pay cheque, while Chadwick Boseman (who was excellent in Captain America: Civil War) chews scenery as the all-intelligent (and outrageously camp) God Thoth as if his life depended on it, delivering it with a particularly bizarre accent.
As Gods of Egypt goes from one terrible set piece to another we have no idea what exactly what is going to happen, but it is impossible to care. The unpredictably lies in the fact that the story and how character do certain things gets increasingly laughable and stupid as the film goes along. This is an action epic that lacks genuine action and certainly never feels epic, yet somehow it manages to be over two hours long. This is a film that is so dumb and stupid, that it does just about manage to entertain when being watched with brain switched firmly off, as it does almost work as a spoof. However, what has happened in the press proves that Alex Proyas thought he made a good film, and that is a level of stoicism that is beyond comprehension.
Cinematic stupidity beyond comprehension; Gods of Egypt insults the intelligence of all with its shockingly bad script, abysmally directed action sequences and profound inability to justify its huge budget.