'Gods Of Egypt' Is The Stupid, Clumsy, Racist Kitten Of 2016 Cinema
So I have this cat.
Bear with me for a minute, OK?
I have this cat. His name is Desmond. He’s a bit older, around 15 or so, but a sweet little guy. The thing is, he’s stupid. And I don’t mean that in an unkind, insulting way. I mean he has actual mental handicaps. He came from a breeding colony at the school where my wife studied to become a veterinarian, where they were breeding cats to help find cures for other cat diseases. Or something. Anyway, he’s, ah, you know… inbred. His mother’s his uncle’s sister’s cousin’s nephew or something, I don’t know, nobody gave me a fuckin’ flow chart so get off my ass, OK? Anyway. Short version is, he’s a moron. He falls off chairs, he runs into walls, he gets lost in the house he’s lived in for almost ten years. He frequently will go out the dog door to our back yard, but cannot grasp how to get back in (GODDAMMIT DESMOND IT’S THE SAME FUCKING DOOR JUST GO BACKWARDS OH FUCK IT COME HERE). But he tries, you know? He’s the king of doing dumb shit and then popping up with that “did anyone see that?” look. He tries so hard, and he’s very sweet and charming and lovable, so we forgive him for falling UP the stairs and getting lost in the bathroom and pooping on my son’s LEGOs.
Gods of Egypt, directed by Alex Proyas, is kind of like my cat. It’s so goddamned stupid. I mean, it’s astronomically, statistically improbably stupid. It’s the kind of stupid that doesn’t require the stupidity scale to be recalibrated; it requires that you destroy it completely and rebuild it from the ground up because it now involves measuring elements we previously hadn’t discovered. It’s the dark matter of stupidity. If you didn’t know, it’s about ancient Egypt, where Gods ruled and walked among men, looking the same as men, only they’re like ten feet tall and they can transform into ripoffs of the SilverHawks (yup, we’re deep cutting to 1986 cartoons, google that shit, motherfuckers). Anyway, the story centers on Horus (Jaime Lannister), who is about to become the god-king of Egypt when his father Osiris (
Michael Caine Bryan Brown) is betrayed by his brother Set (Gerard Butler). Set assumes the throne, and enslaves everyone, and then Horus — with the aid of a plucky mortal thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and his staggeringly attractive girlfriend Zaya (Courtney Eaton), must find Horus’s eyes and confront Set and fight an evil army and save the princess except every fucking time she’s in another castle.
OK, fine, there’s no princess. But that’s essentially Gods of Egypt — a series of asinine action setpieces, each resulting in the characters having to fight something or somethings, only to realize that they must then traverse to the next setpiece, rinse, lather, repeat. There are shiny suits of armor and fancy weapons and banter and speeches, and it’s all just so unbelievably stupid. But here’s the thing — it tries, you guys. Director Alex Proyas (Dark City) wants so badly for this to be a sort of mystical Indiana Jones-style adventure, full of camaraderie and humor and hijinks, but also Very Serious Themes and a solid B-movie flair. Basically, it wants to be The Mummy. But it’s not. It’s not even The Mummy Returns. Hell, it’s not even that third one with the asshole and no Rachel Weisz.
Instead, Gods of Egypt is simply boring. It’s shocking how so many effects, so much CGI and green screen, so much action and adventure and out-and-out bedlam on the screen, can be so utterly dull. It’s a clock-watcher of a film, two+ hours of tedium and flashing lights and noise. And that’s frustrating, because one of my favorite things in all of cinema is a clever, well-crafted B-movie, a film that knows its place in the universe and just wants to take you on the ride. Gods of Egypt wants to take you on that journey, and it carefully assembled the scenery, but it’s an empty vessel, devoid of wit, soul, or intelligence. Its jokes fall flat, its characters lack charisma or chemistry, and its story is nothing more than a series of pre-drafted setpieces with a lazy screenplay wrapped around them.
Like I said, much like my dumb little cat, Gods of Egypt wants too much to be lovable, despite being a lackwitted dumdum. Of course, there are a couple of other crucial differences: My cat doesn’t cost me millions of dollars, and oh right, my cat isn’t racist. Because HOO-BOY, RACISM, Y’ALL. I’m not going to spend too much time on this, because my blood pressure’s in a good place right now, but mother of god. How — HOW — do you, in good conscience, make a film that takes place in ancient Africa, and cast — out of your nine lead characters — a Dane, two white Australians, two Brits, and a Scot. The other three are Courtney Eaton (an Aussie of mixed ethnicity), French-Cambodian Elodie Yung as Horus’s love interest and Chadwick Boseman as Thoth, the god of knowledge and pretentiousness. You know what it doesn’t have in it? FUCKING AFRICANS. Production of Gods of Egypt promised a hugely diverse cast, which basically meant that they cast a lot of people of color as slaves or soldiers (mostly slaves) but hey hey hey, Boseman plays a god who makes multiple copies of himself and NO YOU FUCKING DOLTS THAT DOESN’T COUNT YOU CAN’T JUST HAVE THE SAME BLACK MAN THIRTY TIMES AND CALL IT DIVERSITY WHY DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN THIS SHIT FUCKITY BYE.
So much for my blood pressure. Anyway, that’s Gods of Egypt for you. It’s a stupid racist animal that wants to be loved. Don’t see it. You won’t love it. You’ll hate it. You’ll hate yourself for wasting your time with it, and frankly you’re an awful enough person that you don’t need to hate yourself any more than you already do.