ByJon Negroni, writer at
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Jon Negroni

Directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt reimagines Egyptian mythology with European accents, zany set pieces, and even zanier characters. Though the true mythology is far from present from this script (it's more of a repurposing of Greek lore than anything else), Egypt excels the most when it explores the relationships between 10-foot tall gods and their lesser mortals.

One of these gods, played by Game of Thrones' Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, plays like Simba from The Lion King (all the more fitting considering his Lannister heritage), as he must regain the throne of Egypt from his dangerous uncle, Set (played unironically by Gerard Butler, Scottish accent and all).

If you can get past the movie's aversion to location immersion — the whitewashing of the cast has been chatted about in length already — you'll find an entertaining action fantasy akin to similar epics of the 80s, making Egypt feel like a throwback for more reasons than its shoddy special effects.

Though it's not much to look at, it can be easy to embrace the clumsy nature of Egypt after watching Geoffrey Rush play Ra, the God of light, who pounds his chest to increase in size and then fire energy blasts at the planet eater of Rise of the Silver Surfer. All while hovering a flat disc of a Earth, whose edges are defined by the Nile. If only this appreciation of Egypt stretched to Proyas' direction on every differing accent found throughout this silly movie.

Butler plays his villain mostly restrained, appearing more sympathetic than someone to be truly feared. Coster-Waldau tries hard to have a physical presence, but his delivery strays little from his TV persona. And the odd mixture of 90s Disney plot themes don't help Egypt from getting the ire of most moviegoers, who will wonder if this movie was made by the Mouse House.

Chadwick Boseman plays the underutilized Thoth, god of wisdom. Thankfully, his odd, off-putting performance will remind us that he is in fact a superb actor elsewhere. If Redmayne can weather his performance in last February's Jupiter Ascending, then perhaps we can expect Oscar attention for Boseman as well next year.

After $140 million of production Gods of Egypt inexplicably feels like a video game movie ripped out of the early 2000s, with mechanical suits and yet another Hero's Journey. But its charm comes from how well all of these bad elements mesh with the genuinely interesting set pieces. And there's a lot to choose from in this movie. It's easy to be entertained, after all, by a panoramic waterfall battle followed by a chase scene through an abandoned garden. It's moments like these when Egypt rises above its own mediocrity.

Grade: C


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