Article: Everything Wrong with Gods of Egypt

Andrew assails the worst film of 2016 so far...

Golden wings!!! I have golden wings!!
Let me begin by saying the controversy surrounding the ethnic white-washing of the cast members for Alex Proyas' box office turkey Gods of Egypt is the least of the film's numerous problems.  That Proyas and Lionsgate Films responded to the backlash with a formal apology is arguably the worst decision made by a major filmmaker since Michael Cimino withdrew Heaven's Gate from cinemas and re-released a shorter version, confirming the negativity people applied to the picture sight unseen.  Worse still, Proyas pulled a Josh Trank social media meltdown after the film's lukewarm reception at the box office and overwhelmingly negative critical response, taking umbrage with critics and "deranged idiot" bloggers like myself.  

While I'm in agreement most online bloggers and the critical establishment form a consensus that tends to follow the leader, Mr. Proyas seems to forget there are those of us who judge films based on their own terms irrespective of collective opinion.  Being an avid consumer of schlock whether it be a forgotten Cannon Film, Kirk Cameron sponsored Christploitation flicks or low budget D-grade trash, chances are I've seen some of the worst films the cinematic medium has to offer.  I've even defended ostensibly "bad" movies and found as incompetent or misguided a film can be, there's a certain amount of joyful entertainment value to be had and with the right mindset it can still provide a swell time at the movies even if the work in question isn't worth a damn objectively speaking.  With that in mind, I can and will say with confidence Alex Proyas' Gods of Egypt is a film so godawful it has the capacity to end his career.

Full of some of the absolute worst CGI imagery this side of a Playstation One video game, phoned in acting by cast members who don't really seem to be there, insane plot points that rival the Scientological madness of Jupiter Ascending and an overall gaudiness that is painful to the eyes and ears, Gods of Egypt easily ranks as the worst film of 2016 so far this year.  Astonishingly, the arguably better Jupiter Ascending and this display an inexplicable affinity for eagle winged humanoids flying about the screen although to Ascending's credit, that's a far prettier film to behold with an even more laughably bizarre plotline.  As bad as Jupiter Ascending was, it wasn't a joyless exercise and is a film I could easily watch again and enjoy for the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink nuthouse that it is.  

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If 300, Jupiter Ascending and the visual effects department behind the Twilight saga had a baby it might look and sound like Gods of Egypt.  Not since Superman IV: The Quest for Peace have I witnessed green screen visual effects this painfully shoddy with piss poor edges surrounding the actors' bodies and inexplicable wobbling of the cast against the cheaply rendered CG laden backdrop.  Did I mention how ugly this thing is to look at?  The predominant color scheme is shining gold with deep reds that would make Baz Luhrmann hurl and there are scenes where even the characters bleed bright gold blood!  As with Ascending, the film is populated by talking anthropomorphic animals but while the dragons and elephant men of that film at least looked well animated, the anubi and eagles look as fake and silly as the werewolves in Twilight.  I'm even willing to argue the CGI in Dragon Wars: D-War are stronger than what Proyas has in store for those unlucky enough to have bought a ticket.

Would you look at that awful CGI?
Don't get me started on the film's "acting" which is as confused and tone deaf as the stilted cybernetic acting in Josh Trank's ill-fated Fantastic Four.  Aside from Gerard Butler channeling 300 once again, Geoffrey Rush finally falling victim to a bad movie instead of surviving it and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau phoning in Sean Bean baloney, there's a deadness permeating all of the performances here by actors who look as though they want to be anywhere but in Proyas' train wreck.  The only actor who seems to emerge intact is Chadwick Boseman, the one survivor of the white washing controversy whose sarcastic performance almost plays like a commentary on the project itself in the same way Willem Dafoe's scenery chewing said everything he thought about Troy Duffy's The Boondock Saints.  Both actors seem to know they're partaking in dreck and are eager to poke fun at the picture by hamming it up.  Young Brenton Thwaites as the "hero" clearly is served up to draw interest from the potential Tween crowed busily eating up the Divergent series although it is highly unlikely Proyas and Lionsgate's hopes to turn Gods of Egypt into a franchise will come to fruition.

Most baffling of all is the film's inexplicably enormous budget, which reportedly is in the range of $140 million.  Much like the $65 million animated film Food Fight, you will be silently asking yourself where all the money went.  Certainly not onscreen as I can name a litany of lower budgeted films with far stronger visual effects than what's here.  The money was either pocketed instead of sunk into the production or maybe it was even lit on fire.  Whatever the case, Proyas is known as the guy who made The Crow and Dark City, two of the most expensive looking and visually stunning films of all time, making his foray into chintzy looking imagery that would make the dregs of Cannon Films' library blush all the more heartbreaking.  Watching Gods of Egypt, I felt angry and sad for Alex Proyas.  Clearly this is a project that's all his and to the film's credit there doesn't appear to be noticeable Hollywood meddling interfering with his vision.  In other words, whatever is wrong with this movie is no one else's fault but Proyas' own.  

Looking at his oeuvre, how is it the man responsible for the aforementioned classics as well as modestly sized effects driven science fiction films like I, Robot and Knowing could turn over something this embarassing and pathetically beneath his abilities?  Like Paul Schrader's inexplicable insistence The Canyons is a misunderstood masterpieces, why hasn't Proyas bucked up and disowned this bloated and overblown mess yet?  On the one hand, yes the film business is and often can be a difficult medium to work in, whether it involves dealing with the day to day production problems, overseeing complicated technical effects in post-production and dealing with a feeble minded general public that has little respect or knowledge to show for all the hard earned effort put into making one of these things.  On the other hand, to take umbrage for that very audience for not liking your movie for whatever reason is not only the counterproductive equivalent of biting the hand that feeds you, it also abdicates responsibility for subjugating the viewer to a film unworthy of your name.

This IS SPARTA!!!!
Wait, wrong flick, yo.
Proyas might be right about collective opinions dictating the success or failure of modern cinema but he is wrong about those of us who try to see past that and view a work on the terms set forth by it.  As a fan of The Crow and Dark City, I'm sorry to say: Mr. Proyas, you made a grotesquely terrible waste of time and money that is infinitely beneath your reputation or what's left of it after debacle.  Moreover, if you are responsible for two of the greatest films of all time, what do you care about what people like me think of your "misunderstood masterpiece"?  Most auteurs associated with film fiascos have the professional capacity to pick themselves up and move on past the disaster in the hopes of one day making a great movie again.  You on the other hand chose to carp and white about a movie better disowned than defended.  If you're reading this (and you likely are), hear me out: I didn't like your movie.  Get over it!


- Andrew Kotwicki