Gods Of Egypt has arguably been the most advertised film of 2016 not named Deadpool, and it finally debuts at the end of this month. If you’ve seen the trailers, you’ve probably noticed that it looks like an enormously overblown historical epic complete with warriors, gods, and monsters galore. But to provide a little more context ahead of the release, here’s a bit about what to expect.
It should probably come as no surprise at this point that Gods Of Egypt has caused some controversy. Back in 2014, we saw another major cinematic release about a fictionalised ancient Egypt in the form of Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods & Kings. A story at MSNBC addressed the film with regard to the fact that it cast almost entirely white actors in the roles of ancient Egyptians, and even then pointed out that this sort of controversy is nothing new. Indeed, Hollywood has often been guilty of similar “whitewashing,” though such issues generate more attention nowadays. This is why it’s been something of a surprise to see Gods Of Egypt commit the same sins, so to speak. The folks at Lionsgate have already apologised for a lack of diversity in casting, so don’t be surprised if this becomes (justifiably) the prevailing story upon the film’s release.
Traditionally, tales of ancient Egypt in cinema have revolved around the Biblical Exodus story. This time around, it’s a more generic story that sounds like an Egyptian version of a Greek epic poem, pitting gods and mortals against each other. In particular, it’s Set, the Egyptian god of darkness, who takes over the throne of Egypt, and it’s up to a hero named Bek to team up with other gods and defeat Set.
The general attitude toward Gods Of Egypt has become one of mockery and scepticism. The film looks a little too heavily dependent on special effects and its brand of epic drama appears to be over-the-top. And it’s partly for this reason that it’s a little bit surprising how strong the cast is. Gerard Butler leads the way playing Set as part of a busy spring that will also see the release of London Has Fallen, the action-packed sequel to Olympus Has Fallen. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who’s become extraordinarily popular playing Jaime Lannister on HBO’s Game Of Thrones, plays the god Horus. Established actors like Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell, and Chadwick Boseman also have supporting roles. Also, Elodie Yung—who last summer was revealed by Variety to be playing Elektra for Marvel’s Daredevil series—will also appear.
Many of us know the images of the Egyptian gods even if we can’t name or classify them, and the inclusion of these figures is one thing that may keep Gods Of Egypt interesting even to those who may chuckle at the previews. Set and Horus are the main gods, but there will be others as well. Rush plays the role of Ra, the god of the sun; Boseman will play Thoth, the god of science and magic; and Yung is Hathor, goddess of joy and motherhood. The really interesting one though is Anubis. This canine-headed man is one of the more recognisable of Egyptian gods, largely thanks to association with burials. There’s even an Anubis-based casino arcade game online, which in conjunction with VIP offerings at Gala is used to attract players with an interest in ancient Egyptian settings. The VIP promotions draw players in, and Anubis and other popular characters serve as gaming subjects. It’s interesting to note that despite this widespread modern recognition of the character, the actor taking up the role, Goran D. Kleut, is a relative unknown.
As implied already, the expectation for Gods Of Egypt is that its release will be controversial and its execution somewhat overproduced, if not overtly silly. It’s simply a goofy and melodramatic looking film. However, with roughly $140 million sunk into the film, a reliable cast, and intriguing subject matter, there’s always some potential for this film to surprise us.