by Sam Robinson
Rated M. Starring Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Gerard Butler. Directed by Alex Proyas.
Gods of Egypt is a mess. A hot, sandy, CGI-dripping mess.
Striving to unleash a new world of mythology onto the big screen, director Alex Proyas (I Robot, Knowing) takes us to Ancient Egypt, where as we’re told through an overly complicated opening narration is a place where ‘gods live beside man’. But don’t worry if you’re easily confused – the gods are twice the size of mere mortals and have the ability to transform into golden animals (basically going super saiyan without the grunting).
The action focuses on the fallout after Egyptian god Set (Butler) takes over the throne of the Egyptian empire after stealing the eyeballs of Horus (Coster-Waldau). Mortal Aladdin – sorry – Bek (Thwaites) takes it upon himself to retrieve the eyeballs, navigating treacherous booby traps and golden scorpions to get them back – all while trying to save his girlfriend Zaya (Courtney Eaton) from going to hell.
The biggest problem with Gods of Egypt – and believe me, there are many – is the script. The story is overly complicated, particularly the deep mythology that needs to be set up quickly. For an audience to get on board, there needs to be ease of access – and for me, not being familiar with Egyptian gods – it was very hard to saddle up for the ride. That said, films like Thor manage to get the viewer on board with mythology – however I would argue the difference relatable humanity in the story. Sure, the love story between Bek and Zaya was cute here, but it’s not maintained throughout the film. Overall, I found myself uninvested in the story – not even a flaming Geoffrey Rush (playing Ra) harpooning space worms could gather my interest.
There’s been a lot of money spent on this film – $140 million – and I daresay much of it when into the CGI and animation. Like many other effects-heavy films though, much of the action looks like it’s filmed in front of green screens. Some of the fight scenes make the animation look rushed.
‘How we act in this life matters.’
If there’s one thing that raised my interest with this film, it’s the way the afterlife is depicted. In Gods of Egypt, one’s afterlife experience is determined by what is brought upon entering, as you’re ‘standing at the gates’. If you bring gold, you can enter the afterlife – if not, you’re set for hell.
I rejoiced in knowing that for eternity with Jesus – not stuff of myths or legends – things couldn’t be more different. There is nothing that we can contribute to eternity, for Jesus has done it all. Hebrews 9:27-28:
‘Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.’
On the cross Jesus took my sin on himself, and declared me right with God – all I need is to trust in that truth. This gives me certainty of eternity with God. What other good deed or gold medallion could I possibly contribute? Nothing. I’m reminded of that beautiful line in the hymn Rock of Ages:
‘Nothing in my hand I bring / simply to your cross I cling.’
The Verdict: Perhaps Gods of Egypt could have been saved if it had employed a catchy subtitle – Quest for the Eyeballs? Perhaps not. 1.5/5
Gods of Egypt releases today in cinemas in Australia and the USA. It will release in the UK on April 8th.