Well, I certainly saw this movie, and there are no Egyptians in it. None.
While it was not the disaster I was expecting, it still wasn’t great. Let’s start with the fact that I love ancient Egyptian mythology. Like all ancient mythologies, it tells stories of ancient gods and goddesses to help explain life. We’re aware of these stories because they were recorded in pictographs and hieroglyphics – with many of the gods taking full or half animal form: Set (dog), Horus (hawk), Thoth (Ibis), Hathor (cow), Anubis (jackal), etc.
There are many stories involving the gods, and we have many ancient images of those stories. For Example - Ra, the sun god, travels across the sky daily on his barge, battling Apophis – the serpent god of Chaos.
In another story - Osiris, god of both fertility and kingship – was married to Isis and had a son, Horus. He was killed by his brother Set, who scattered the pieces all over. Isis gathered the pieces to reassemble them with the funerary deities Nephthys and Anubis, so that he could be properly buried. Set then competes with Horus for the throne – during the conflict, Set tears out Horus’s eyes, which are later restored by the healing efforts of Thoth (god of wisdom and knowledge) or Hathor (goddess of joy and love). Because of this story, the Eye of Horus (who is often depicted with a hawk-head) is a symbol of life and well-being.
This story is the one covered in the movie Gods of Egypt. The people of Egypt are living alongside their gods, (who are bigger – which makes sense, because in Egyptian Hieroglyphs, the gods are almost always depicted as twice the size of mortals). We are introduced to thief Bek and his lady friend Zaya. There’s a coronation taking place because Osiris is about to hand down his crown to his son Horus. Horus starts the day partied out from the night before, and a bit chastised by his love Hathor. He’s just about to ask her to marry him, when it’s time to go get that crown. We’re treated to an opulent scene where all the gods and goddess arrive for the ceremony – and just as Horus is about to be crowned, Set shows up, and gets all angry about ruling over the desert while Osiris got to rule over the nice part of Egypt – right there around the Nile.
Well, Set promptly stabs Osiris, who starts gushing gold everywhere (the gods bleed gold – because why wouldn’t they?). Horus attempts to fight back – even though a few of the other gods tell him now is not the time. In doing this - both he and Set transform into near-robotic entirely-metallic versions of themselves...I have no idea why.
Set tears out Horus's eyes – and begins a tyrannical rule. He states that the only way for mortals to get into the good part of the afterlife is with great piles of gold and such, and that all mortals now work for him.
We catch up with Bek a good deal later as he again goes to visit Zaya, who is now a slave to the master builder (yes, similar to that storyline from the Ten Commandments). Well, Bek tries to rescue her, but the builder kills her – and so he steals Horus’s eye from the trap-ridden hall using plans stolen from the builder.
He then reluctantly travels to Horus (who has been living in exile) to attempt to get him to bring Zaya back – because she has nothing to give to the judges and so won’t make it into the nice part of the afterlife. Horus is unconvinced, but Bek gives him the one eye – so he agrees to go with Bek to get the other.
Meanwhile, Set is going around wiping out any gods leftover. They all seem to be hiding out with Nepthys, and her super-fancy wings. He rides his chariot pulled by fancy scarabs up to her palace and promptly steals her wings – then gets angry when he learns what Horus is up to. It turns out, he’s been keeping Hathor (or is she just staying with him?) and she promptly takes off to help Bek and Horus. Horus goes so far as to head up to Ra in the sky to ask for assistance. Ra is super busy dragging the sun across the sky and fighting off Apophis, who is pictured here as a giant space worm that wants to eat existence (you know, the standard stuff), so he’s not all that thrilled with the interruption, but does what he can. Bek and Horus fight off Set’s hunters (who are riding giant fire-breathing snakes - because, giant fire-breathing snakes);
They visit Thoth (who only trusts himself with collecting knowledge, so his temple is filled with duplicates of him); they pop in and out of the underworld, which really annoys Annubis. They go to Set’s pyramid and answer a question from the Sphinx (who didn't look nearly Sphinx-y enough for me).
Set threatens Ra and steals his staff. Set assimilates a bunch of stuff he steals from everybody else, but Horus eventually defeats him, restores Ra, and brings peace back to the Nile – saving everyone from the space worm, and guaranteeing that good deeds will get you to the afterlife, not gold and riches.
Alex Proyas, the director, also did I Robot, Dark City, and the Crow – all of which were pretty good, so I had high hopes for this – until I saw the casting. There are no Egyptian actors in this movie; the majority of the actors are white. And while ‘gods’ maybe don’t need to be ethnically the same as the area they preside over…come on: a Scotsman and a Dane and a multitude of Australians? It was filmed in the Australian desert, using much of the same crew that was used for Mad Max Fury Road. Back when Cecil B. DeMille made the Ten Commandments, there weren’t a ton of actors in the middle east. But now that region has a thriving film industry and tons of actors. You could have found a couple of Egyptians to play Egyptians – what about Amr Waked as Set (he would have been amazing) and Sammy Sheik or Ahmed Ezz as Horus? They’re all Egyptian.
The look of the movie is actually not bad – it certainly is pretty, and I saw it in 3D, which made certain parts look fantastic – especially Ra’s barge. The costumes were beautiful, and the story is not terrible, and I thought the effects of the gods being taller was interesting – as well as the transportation back and forth between the underworld. I really loved Nepthys’s wings.
- Brenton Thwaites (Australian) plays Bek – and he’s passable as the charming thief. He’s not terrible and does okay running and jumping over what must have been extensive blue screen. Honestly, the parts he’s the weakest in are the interactions with Zaya.
- Zaya is played by Courtney Eaton, another Australian. She was Cheedo (the Fragile) in Mad Max Fury Road and she’s not terrible here, but not really interesting. She spends most of her time encouraging Bek to have faith in the gods, and then wandering through the underworld without a tribute.
- Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Danish) plays Horus – and really seems miscast. Okay – lots of the actors seem miscast, but he really seems uncomfortable in the role of hero (he’s a better villain), and just uninterested in most of the movie. Also – I feel like he was probably too old for this role. Also – this is strange – but I didn’t really buy him in the action scenes.
- French actress Elodie Yung plays goddess of love Hathor – and I really enjoyed her. She saunters her way through the movie, with no problem using her powers to get what she wants. It made me excited to see what she will do as Elektra on the Daredevil Netflix show.
- Bryan Brown (Australian) plays Osiris, and while it was exciting to see him again, certainly not the way I would have gone for the god who rules all of Egypt. Oh well, at least it reminded me of how much I enjoyed the movie FX, and maybe I should watch that again. Rachael Blake (also Australian) plays his wife Isis.
- Emma Booth (Australian) plays Nepthys – who apparently was Set’s wife, but then left him when he started taking over and killing everyone and everything. Again – her wings were the coolest!
- Rufus Sewell (British) plays Urshu – the master builder, and man is he entertaining. He’s always good, and is best as a slimy villain, which he does just perfectly here.
- Here’s a surprise for you – Geoffrey Rush (Australian) plays Ra. That’s right, someone cast Captain Barbosa as the Sun God. He actually does a fine job of being annoyed at his son Set and annoyed at Apophis, and annoyed at Horus. Just not the way I would have gone.
- Gerard Butler (Scottish) plays Set, and chews every piece of the CGI scenery he can find as he tromps through the greenscreens threatening everyone. He’s great as a villain, but again – just feels wrong. He certainly does give it his all, and I didn’t mind the storyline of him stealing random pieces from each of the gods he kills in order to become more powerful.
- The very best part of this movie is Chadwick Boseman as Thoth. Boseman’s star is really on the rise, and I’m telling you now – if you’re not already on his bandwagon from 42, Draft Day, and Get On Up – get on it now before Cap 3 Civil War comes out and he finally brings T’Challa to the screen. He’s incredible in almost everything he does, and he really is a bright spot in this movie. Thoth is full of himself and a little bit bored by everyone and everything around him – but is super excited to take on the Sphinx’s riddle. I loved the idea that he only trusted himself, so his wisdom storehouse is filled with replicas of him processing and storing knowledge. Also – really fancy outfit. And – how is he okay at the end after Set rips out his brain? Ra, I guess?
In summary, it looked good, it’s miscast, and it’s not as terrible as I was expecting, but it’s still not great. How’s that for a summary? It's really a shame, because it could have been amazing. If you are going to see it – see it in 3D. I think that helped. Anubis looked really cool, but I’ve always been partial to him. He and Bastet were always my favorites!
5 out of 10 – Gained points for the effects and for Boseman. Lost points for all the Australians.
Bonus Video - I couldn't help but think about the last good Gerard Butler movie I saw...yes, Olympus Has Fallen was pretty good (the sequel is out this coming weekend), Reign of Fire was awesome, but one of the first times I saw him was Dracula 2000 - which I loved! Check it out, if you haven't seen it.