After the emotional meat grinder of the very excellent “The Witch” last week, I was happy to sit down and not worry about anything. Since it’s impossible to avoid any hype at all, by the time I sat down for this one I’d heard that Gods of Egypt was getting terrible reviews. Now while it did have its faults, Gods of Egypt belongs with ‘Avatar’ and ‘Jupiter Ascending’; it’s one of those movies that are so beautiful the audience doesn’t worry about acting, dialogue or consistency. Of course it’s absurd: it is pure escapism and it is wonderful.
Mortal hero Bek teams with the god Horus in an alliance against Set, the merciless god of darkness who has usurped Egypt’s throne, plunging the once peaceful and prosperous empire into chaos and conflict.
If you would like to get the full sense of Gods of Egypt in this review, from now until the end of the page, every time I use an adjective, you tack the word ‘ridiculously’ in front of it. So if I say “Gods of Egypt was fast-paced adventure with shiny special effects and beautiful set pieces” you would translate that to “Gods of Egypt was ridiculously fast-paced adventure with ridiculously shiny special effects and ridiculously beautiful set pieces.” For those of you who don’t like the repetition, you may substitute “outrageously” or “preposterously” in some cases.
I learned something in this film. For a visual movie to really pop, not only do you need careful use of color and movement, composition and shape, you also need to pay attention to subject matter. Gods of Egypt had a diverse set of action scenes, each more grandiose than the next. There were chase scenes and fight scenes, yes, but where this film shone was in its other shorter scenes where the setting was just cool and gorgeous for the sake of interest. But the thing is – every last one of those was cool and gorgeous in a different way. There was also a generous amount of shirtless men.
As for the non-visual aspects, I couldn’t find fault with the pacing, even though the movie was 127 minutes (that’s too long). There was a fourth act. But it seemed to work here, for the first time ever. The fourth act helped the movie be even more over-the-top, it raised the stakes even higher. Acting-wise, there were some good performances too, especially one gem by Geoffrey Rush. Some effort was even made to incorporate the names and events of Egyptian Gods and myths into the narrative. I was going to use that fact as a criticism, (the mythology in Gods of Egypt was only loosely based on Egyptian mythology), but the more I think about this the more I realize that wasn’t an accident. The film’s effectiveness was enhanced by its simplicity, not reduced by it.
For those who gave this a bad review, I have to ask: What were you expecting? If it was a faithful presentation of Egyptian Mythology, this movie was not that, nor was it meant to be. There are plenty of those already, I’ve seen some of them. They are dry. If it was the Special Effects that had you bent out of shape, I’m afraid you might have me there. I can’t tell the difference between good CGI and bad CGI; at least not on movies less than 10 years old. But if this were a cartoon, you wouldn’t criticize, so why rag on the Special Effects for what is essentially an animated film to begin with? If you were watching this for realism, might I recommend: “Egypt’s Golden Empire”? It’s on Youtube, even.
So should you see this film? Yes, absolutely, and see it in the theater with 3D glasses. I’m curious to see this again at some point and see if it holds up. I’m thinking it will. Objectively speaking, it does rate a little lower than usual for films I like but if you’re in the mood for eye candy, this is your film. You have to know what you’re getting into, and take it for what it is.