Hey, you. Yeah, you. The person in the back who’s always bitching about how Hollywood movies aren’t original anymore. Oh, “everything’s a reboot or a sequel” this, “corporate cash-grab” that. It’s time for you to put your money where your mouth is and pony up for “Gods of Egypt,” the most original film of the year. And guess what? This commercial and critical failure is almost worth watching for a number of reasons. Bear with me.
For nearly every second of this movie, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing happen onscreen. Not because the effects are convincing or the action awe-inspiring — certainly, neither is the case — but because I was repeatedly shocked at the amount of CGI-drenched lunacy that is packed into each frame of the picture.
I’m supposed to summarize the plot for you, but where do I even begin? This is a movie about shredded 10-foot-tall God-bros (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, “Game of Thrones,” and Gerard Butler, “300”) with gold blood that turn into giant robot eagles and fight with laser beams. They hang out with scantily-clad babes and have shiny crystal organs that they can take out like Lego pieces. But it’s also a buddy movie? And a road movie? And there’s a 15-minute break in the middle to show a scene where Ra (Geoffrey Rush, “Pirates of the Caribbean”) drags the sun, held by giant chain, around the FLAT, DISC-SHAPED EARTH (I’m sure Tila Tequila and B.o.B. will love this movie), and then fights a giant shadow-leviathan thing to make sure it doesn’t eat reality?
Oh, what a mess. What a strange, fascinating mess. One of my favorite gaming websites gives out a “Hottest Mess” award at the end of every year — if we did that at The Michigan Daily, “Gods of Egypt” would be a shoo-in. Every shot in “Gods of Egypt” feels like it had its own director and cinematographer, coordinating their craftsmanship over a laggy Skype call. I’ve seen bad CGI before, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen CGI this egregiously bad. But I can’t look away, and I don’t want to. Some of this stuff — a few “Raiders of the Lost Ark” rip-off scenes, some Power Rangers-style fight scenes — is a whole lot of fun.
I’ve been trying to figure out a good film comparison to ground this review in something familiar, but “Gods of Egypt” honestly feels like no other film I’ve seen. Perhaps the closest thing to it is the “Clash of the Titans” franchise, but “Gods of Egypt” is much more visually interesting, imaginative and all over the place. Plus, it lacks Sam Worthington, which is always a plus.
Really, “Gods of Egypt” is much more like a video game. It reminds me most of “Bayonetta” and “God of War,” violent character action games in which oversexualized deities slice and dice mythological creatures within a vaguely religious conflict.
I truly appreciate the creativity that went into “Gods of Egypt.” It’s evident writer/director Alex Proyas (“I, Robot”) had extraordinarily ambitious ideas and was assisted in establishing a solid vision by a really terrific team of concept artists. But there’s a tinge of disinterested incompetence that drags “Gods of Egypt” through the dirt before it shows up to the prom. With terrible accents and lackadaisical delivery, Gerard Butler and Chadwick Boseman (“Get On Up”) clearly don’t give a shit about their performance any time they’re onscreen. The trying-too-hard jokes fail to get laughs much more often than they succeed. Several of the main Egyptian characters are embarrassingly cast mayonnaise-white. And as I said, the CGI is dated and messy, seemingly worked on by a multitude of uncoordinated effects houses.
Despite these cringe-inducing elements, I can almost see “Gods of Egypt” becoming a cult film over the next few years. Perhaps it’s saying something about Hollywood’s tendency to reuse and recycle that I found such an incompetently structured (and way too long, by the way) film so enjoyable. It’s frustrating how nearly recommendable this film is.