Wow! Where to start? The effects-driven (into the ground!) "Gods of Egypt" is so screwy, yet so feeble, its already-infamous whitewashed casting issues are the least of its troubles.
As we hear in the opening voice-over, in a line recycled from any number of '50s TV variety shows featuring Sammy Cahn or Johnny Mercer, the story "goes something … like … this":
Ancient Egypt, see? We're in ancient Egypt, mythological division. Anything can happen here. The place looks like a Bahamas resort being built next door to Atlantis, connected by a lazy-river version of the Nile. The gods roam the land freely and, in fact, rule it alongside the mortals. The gods also bleed liquid gold, and run 11, 12 feet in height on average. In one scene, a particular god is shown lounging in a swimming pool, attended by mortal babes, and he looks like a first-round draft pick in the Ancient Mythological Basketball Assn.
Godwise, big cheese Osiris (Australian native Bryan Brown, who's not even the pastiest-whitest cast member on-screen) is about to bequeath the kingdom to his benevolent son Horus (Danish actor
The rest of "Gods of Egypt" relays how Horus gets his orbs and his kingdom back. This he accomplishes with the help of lowly but plucky pickpocket Bek, played by Aussie Brenton Thwaites, who seems to have wandered over from a predynastic period version of "Glee." There's no enlightened way to put this: Despite a blizzard of cruddy-looking digital effects, utterly belying the rumored $140-million production budget, the primary visual focus of "Gods of Egypt" is the bejeweled cleavage of Courtney Eaton (as Bek's beloved, Zaya) and Horus' squeeze, Hathor. The actresses are secondary, if that. Hathor is portrayed by Elodie Yung, who is of French-Cambodian ancestry and therefore about as Egyptian as these folks get.
The script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless ("Dracula Untold" and "The Last Witch Hunter") is lousy with asides meant to amuse. "This old thing?" Hathor purrs at one point, dangling a magical bracelet from her wrist, somewhere northwest of where director Alex Proyas' camera is actually pointed. This U.S./Australian coproduction also features
There's little to say of the combat sequences, beyond noting their numbing repetition and hacky, nervous editing strategy. And honestly, the casting's the least of the issues in "Gods of Egypt," though the film's distributor, Lionsgate, wasted no time with the mea culpas. "It is clear that our casting choices should have been more diverse," director Proyas said in a statement months ago. A Lionsgate spokesperson added: "We failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize."
Call it "Clash of the Whitans," and call it a folly that doesn't have the energy or delirium to qualify as entertaining crap. It's just crap.
Phillips is a Chicago Tribune film critic.
'Gods of Egypt'
MPAA rating: PG-13, for fantasy violence and action, and some sexuality
Running time: 2 hours, 7 minutes