How did this happen? How did I enjoy something as absurd and silly as this? How could I go into it so negatively and come out so satisfied? Because it’s a surprisingly fun fantasy film, that’s how.
In fact, here’s a long list of fantasy films I enjoyed a lot less than I enjoyed Gods of Egypt:
- Peter Jackson’s King Kong
- The Hobbit trilogy
- Howard the Duck
- Independence Day movies
- Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
- Men in Black II
- Any of The Mummy films
- Any of the Pirates of the Caribbean sequels
- Sin City 2
- Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
- Stardust (actually, I liked this one about the same)
- Star Wars prequels
- Wild Wild West
So why did Gods of Egypt get some of the same negative press as the more infamous films on the list above? How in the hell did it get such a low Rotten Tomatoes rating while painfully routine comedies and remakes consistently garner higher ratings? I don’t have the answer to those questions and I suspect anyone who claims to know for sure is reaching just a little too far. Even so, I can’t help but feel something dishonest is going on here, such as pressure from social media groups or… okay, now even I’m reaching. (Let’s not forget this stuff is subjective… maybe the movie really is shit and I’m just out of touch.)
Yet it seems Gods of Egypt was dragged through the mud long before its February release date and everyone wanted it to fail. I expected pretty much what everyone else expected: another mind-numbing 300 ripoff with loads of bad CGI and no creativity whatsoever. I’m not saying the CGI in Gods of Egypt isn’t bad, just that it’s a lot less distracting than I expected. This is a huge, somewhat complex fantasy world—how else could they have filmed it? On location? (The Lord of the Rings filmed an awful lot on location, sure, but this ain’t Lord of the Rings. It set out to be a lot richer than that world.) It also doesn’t feel nearly as phony as Sky Captain and the Star Wars prequels did.
Yes, there’s an awful lot of white faces and English-speaking characters for a story that’s allegedly Egyptian. And no, this isn’t a very accurate portrayal of that particular mythology, either. (I guess that’s where the fantasy part comes in, isn’t it?) I’ll be honest: most of the humor was what you would expect from bad children’s movies, and the action is pretty lackluster whenever it goes all Matrix-y. On the other hand Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who hasn’t found a lot of mainstream success beyond Game of Thrones, has “movie star” written all over him while Gerard Butler is an extremely likable screen presence as well. Both of these guys aren’t getting the hits they deserve.
Look, if you’ve ever enjoyed Highlander, Flash Gordon, or Krull, you should really give this one a chance, especially now that it’s on HBO. I can’t say I would have liked it as much had I paid money for it, but for a free movie, this is some very creative entertainment.