I watched Gods of Egypt AKA this year’s Jupiter Ascending last night. Yes, yes. I’m part of the problem, but as an egyptology enthusiast, I couldn’t resist. So I’m ready to answer any questions you might have about the movie. There will be spoilers after the jump, but it’s got such a simple plot that I don’t know if anything could even be considered a spoiler.
So how was it?
It’s a bad movie, but not bad enough to be a cult classic. The entire movie is an off-brand version of Thor set in ancient Egypt. A powerful being (who is worshiped as a god) loses his divine powers and is cast out during his coronation. He must team up with mortals and other gods to defeat his relative/nemesis, but first he must learn the importance of humility by making the ultimate sacrifice. The story is serviceable at best, but at least it’s not confusing.
Why is it bad?
Aside from being utterly unambitious, it’s also wildly inconsistent. There are some computer generated shots that are utterly breathtaking—such as Ra’s barge—but there are also scenes that look like artists hadn’t finished rendering them. Fight and stunt choreography are mostly joyless and unconvincing. Some actors seem to be phoning it in (cough, Gerard Butler) while others are stuck playing unlikable characters, most of whom are not very well-fleshed out.
Who suffered to make this movie?
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau plays Horus AKA the Egyptian Thor. He mostly channels Jaime Lannister in most of the scenes with none of Chris Hemsworth’s charms, which makes him unlikable. Brenton Thwaites plays his partner, Bek, a poor thief with the beefiness of an aspiring bodybuilder. I guess he’s meant to be like Shia Labeouf in Transformers and also be Horus’ foil, but he’s not interesting or funny enough to be memorable. Elodie Yung is great as Hathor, bringing a bit of spark missing from most of the actors. She’s going to be fun to watch in the upcoming season of Daredevil. Chadwick Boseman, who plays Thoth, is also going to be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe soon. He plays a sexy nerd deity with a huge ego. While his character could have been fun, he was burdened with a faux British accent which, when combined with awkwardly written lines, became incredibly distracting. Strangely, the director didn’t ask Gerard Butler to hide his Scottish brogue for portraying Set even though every other deity spoke in Queen’s English. He totally phoned it in. He actually has one “THIS IS SPARTA” moment, and it’s in one of the preview clips. Two of Immortan Joe’s wives were in the movie too. Courtney Eaton plays Bek’s fridged girlfriend, and Abbey Lee plays Anat—one of Set’s many incompetent underlings. Geoffrey Rush hams it up as Ra. Oh, and Rufus Sewell plays a Smithers.
How faithful is it to the Egyptian mythology?
Not very. In the movie, all gods are tall humans until they turn on their power armors, which give them an animal helmet... except Anubis for some inexplicable reason, who does have an actual Jackal head. The writers did do some research though. Hathor is often called the “Mistress of the West”, alluding to her role as a goddess who aids those entering the afterlife. The movie also briefly hints at her alter ego as Sekhmet. A major part of the plot revolves around the concept of judgment in the afterlife. There’s also a genuinely surprising stealth joke in a scene in which Horus asks for Thoth’s help in defeating Set while Thoth is studying a head of lettuce...
What about the controversy over casting?
While there are people with various skin tones in the movie, there’s no denying that most of the main cast are white actors portraying Egyptian gods who rule over brown people. It gets really problematic at the end of the movie when it has its own mhysa moment.
Gods of Egypt is a dumbed down version of Thor that really should be crazier than what it ended up being. It’s got tons of quotable lines, but nothing about the plot is particularly memorable. It’s got gods bleeding gold through their robot armors, but it’s also visually boring. Despite all that, it was perversely enjoyable watching this movie with a couple of my egyptology-loving friends and laughing at the bizarre interpretations of the gods and goddesses flying around in their scarab carriages.