Gods of Egypt Trailer: This Could Have Been the Best Bad Movie of 2016

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After watching the first trailer for Gods of Egypt, I think it’s a shame that this movie had to be about Egyptian deities. It’s not based on any specific source material, so the only familiarity meant to appeal to a mass audience is in the fact that people have heard of Egyptian mythology. They recognize the Pyramids. But it’s unlikely a lot of Americans could name a single god of Ancient Egypt let alone what they represent.

Sure, Clash of the Titans made nearly half a billion dollars worldwide, and its sequel another $300k. Last year’s Egypt-set Bible-inspired epic Exodus: Gods and Kings also did decent business, like the other two mostly overseas. Gods of Egypt isn’t necessarily for Americans. It’s for moviegoers in Europe, Asia and Central and South America. But are they going to these kinds of movies for character names as familiar as Horus and Set?

Could a movie like this be produced without any sort of previously existing incarnation of story, setting or character? Unfortunately, when movies like Jupiter Ascending bomb so hard, the answer is no. That’s a shame, as I stated, because Gods of Egypt otherwise could be a lot of fun. That isn’t to say anything in the trailer looks remotely of good quality, but there are a whole lot of things that look really awesome.

Without the issue of the racially inaccurate and insensitive casting (see our earlier post on the whitewashing controversy as highlighted via the movie’s character posters), if this was a movie simply about gods and men without regional or ethnic specificity, it might have been an easy guilty pleasure, maybe even the best bad movie of 2016. Even more than the tired “so bad it’s good” idea, it could just be bad but with some really great elements.

I mean, the movie has Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones (real name: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) wearing an eye patch as if he’s some fantastical sword-and-sandals version of Snake Plissken(reminder, by the way, that the iconic Snake Plissken originated in a completely original movie) who sometimes wears SilverHawks cosplay. Also, there are guys riding giant snake monsters and Sarlaccs in the sky and the coolest-looking depictions of animal-head Egyptian gods since Stargate. Basically it’s the most Kurt Russell-y movie not starring Kurt Russell ever.

Except that it’s also a CG-covered monstrosity, the sort that will have our eyeballs stimulated as well as any fireworks climax, only with less clarity in what we’re actually looking at, and surely more shouts of “what the fuck!?” than awe-expressing exclamations of “ooh” and “ahh.” Gods of Egypt, even without the casting controversy, is perfect fodder for the return of Mystery Science Theater 3000, the most interesting targets of which were always a similar combo of awful and awesome.

The movie is directed by Alex Proyas, who has a track record for making movies that are never very good but are often filled with cool ideas. He’s also one to be criticized for messing with great source material where he could have just made an original work inspired by that material instead – basically I’m talking about I, Robot. I really do wish he’d also gone more influenced by than directly based on with this movie, which he co-wrote with the guys not surprisingly behind Dracula Untold and The Last Witch Hunter.

You could still have super beings with animal versions of themselves and even have pyramids not meant to be those of Egypt. The whole movie could be exactly as is without being fact checked or racism checked. Exactly. Who’d sue if some saw it as too close to something they think ought to have been titled Gods of Egypt instead of Gods of Awesomeness?

In addition to Coster-Waldau, Gods of Egypt stars Gerard Butler as the villainous war god Set, Brenton Thwaites (Maleficent) as the mortal Bek, Courtney Eaton (Mad Max: Fury Road) as his leading lady, Geoffrey Rush as the sun god Ra, Elodie Yung (G.I. Joe: Retaliation) as the goddess of beauty Hathor, Chadwick Boseman as the god Thoth and Rufus Sewell. It arrives in theaters in the US on February 26th.

Christopher began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called 'Read,' back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials.