Film Review: Gods of Egypt
Pitted in an epic battle between God and man is the fate of the world, which rests upon the mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites) who challenges Set (Gerard Butler) a god who killed his brother Osiris (Bryan Brown) thus throwing the world into utter chaos.
Directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt is a fantasy film with impressive visual effects, a beautiful but strangely all white cast (an issue that has been criticised by many) and a plot which requires either a general understanding of Egyptian mythology or a simplified satisfaction in a film’s high budget visuals to carry one through to the film’s long-awaited ending.
Indeed, Gods of Egypt is a film which makes reference to the cliche of the hero’s journey in which mortal man challenges the gods for the sake of, you guessed it, love. With a jaw-dropping presence of a rugged male cast along with the seductive allure of female co-stars there is a possibility that the fantasy elements of this film have been created to resonate with the easily marketable dreams of young men engaged in fantasy role-play in which they themselves are the hero.
The script however seems sloppy and hard to follow, with the film seeming to require a sacrifice of some sort, in my case two hours of my time, in order to gain an insight into a very vague introduction to the Egyptian mythology and the names of gods as hinted in the title.
With the star power of Gerard Butler and Geoffrey Rush, the film is a visual feast, with an array of gods played by well known Hollywood actors paraded throughout. In some cases Gods of Egypt could be easily mistaken as an Egyptian-themed red carpet event in which celebrities make their grand cameo in front of a million adoring fans. From this perspective, it seems that a parallel between the worship of celebrity culture in amongst contemporary society and worship the of gods in ancient Egypt could be made, opening it up to the idea that nothing has changed over the centuries.
The extensive belief system the ancient Egyptians trust in is one of faith and obvious uncertainty, as highlighted throughout the film’s confusing plot in which ambiguity seems to play a key role.
Bek (Thwaites), who questions throughout the film if the gods understand the perils of mortal man, seemingly foreshadows the questions I develop whilst watching the film itself. Trying to understand the plot’s relevance to the film’s use of utterly impressive special effects is on closer inspection hollow and without meaning, a sad waste of time and resources.
That said, when interpreting the gods in Gods of Egypt being representative of those in power, there are a few points presented to the viewer.
Firstly, the film is an impressive and visually stunning piece which references cliches of the hero’s journey playing on the stereotype of a male’s fantasy (I’m obviously speaking in relation to generalised view of the gender construct as a female) in which a humble but ambitious mortal human rescues a beautiful damsel in distress and saves the world despite the odds.
Secondly, drawing heavily on its fantasy elements, Gods of Egypt relies heavily on fantasy elements created by the film’s use of special effects in the hope that audiences will relate to and imagine themselves to at least one of the characters. It is however, not the special effects which makes the characters relatable and the plot somewhat plausible but the introduction of weaknesses, vulnerability and thus approachability in the form of a flawed character, an identifiable human trait which is easily marketable and within reach of viewers of this film.
Thirdly, when presented as a sort of David and Goliath situation in which the impossible, challenging the gods, is made possible, it could be interpreted that Gods of Egypt is a film which liberates oneself, inspiring the ordinary man to do extraordinary things.
Gods of Egypt is available on to own on digital platforms now and on Blu-Ray, 3D Blu-Ray, DVD and digital rental from 29 June.
Review by Addy Fong.