As a history student, I equal parts relish and fear watching historical movies.
I am not sure Gods of Egypt actually counts as a historical movie.
Although set in Ancient Egypt, the precise date is questionable. The only distinguishing features being that it is the period of Egyptian history where the Egyptian Gods walked the earth.
The film is deeply flawed. The characters are at the same time lacking in depth and larger than life, with a pantomime villain. The special effects are unrealistic, filled with video-game style violence. The plot is the simplest possible offering: a young man joins forces with the powerful God Horus to battle the villainous Set who has slain Osiris and taken over his rightful kingdom.
The film was written and directed by someone who only had the most basic idea of Egyptian Mythology. The sort of level you could get off Wikipedia in an evening.
The characterisations of the gods are painfully Western. The depiction of the kingdom feels Arthurian, with flags and shining silver armour. This film is the definition of white-washing. There’s very little I can add to that observation.
Ra, the sun God, is played by Geoffrey Rush far more like I imagine Odin, as a cantankerous old man, fighting the creature Apophis every night.
Thoth is played by Chadwick Boseman as a campy scholar, obsessed with his own genius. Hathor is the overly sexualised Goddess of Love. Perhaps the part that rankled with me the most was this choice.
Hathor is the not just the Goddess of sexual love – she is the goddess of joy, love, childbirth, music, dancing and fertility. She is depicted in art as a beautiful woman or a cow.
It would have changed the movie if she had looked like that.
The critical reaction has been incredibly negative and it is not surprising why. The white-washing alone is difficult to forgive. The female characters are eye-roll inducing. Every step of the plot is predicable.
Except when the Gods turning into giant mecha. At one point, the gang fight two warrior goddesses riding giant fire breathing snakes.
Yet the film is oddly compelling. There is no logic. There is no higher purpose. It is a ridiculous, schlock-fest that so gleefully ignores the setting except as a shiny backdrop that it’s hard to even be mad.
Compared to the soulless, dry, historical epics that came out recently – Noah, Exodus and similar – this film is a breath of fresh air. Or rather, some kind of hurricane.
Disclaimer: I recommend not watching the film if you have any knowledge of Egyptian culture or mythology.