I did not have a good time. I don’t even know where to begin.
Egyptian mythology is a very rich pool of story with immeasurable opportunity for great storytelling. For a storyteller, it’s a great opportunity to make your dialogue more interesting by using old English and incorporating spirituality, royalism and putting your own personal twist on mythological characters like Rameses and Cleopatra.
It is almost a cop-out to review this film this week because it is easily one of the worst films of the year. All the racial controversy around the casting of this film isn’t even at the top of the list of its biggest problems.
Lovers of fantasy, such as myself, are always happy to settle down for the night with an Egyptian epic about its ancient gods. We enjoy seeing the golden palaces and satin silk and they’re gorgeous sun-kissed skin. We can even deal with the crazy amounts of eye-liner and all the other make-up that is caked on the men. We take in the experience with open arms because, when backed by great acting, good dialogue and an engaging, entertaining story, we’re transported to another world. And that is what film is all about.
This movie should be in no way a reflection of director Alex Proyas and his ability to make a good film. With movies like I, Robot (2004) and Dark City (1998) under the belt, there is no doubt he is a very talented, proficient director. But it’s quite difficult to find anything positive to say about this movie, besides that the CGI is sometimes not that bad.
This is the most artificial movie I’ve seen in this era of advanced technology. Very little of it is convincing. There is quite an obvious effort from the actors to give an interesting performance. However, coupled with sloppy writing and choppy editing, all their efforts are turned to satire and it just becomes kind of funny and slightly awkward. The action sequences look like they happened entirely in a green screen room.
With regards to the issue of Egyptian characters being played by white actors, I’ve gone into more detail on that issue on my Whitewashing in Hollywood post and infographic. It was a fresh wound when the film was first released and I am actively choosing not to re-open it here. But I will re-iterate that Lionsgate (the film production company) released a statement apologizing for the predominantly caucasian cast of the film.
“We recognize that it is our responsibility to help ensure that casting decisions reflect the diversity and culture of the time periods portrayed. In this instance we failed to live up to our own standards of sensitivity and diversity, for which we sincerely apologize. Lionsgate is deeply committed to making films that reflect the diversity of our audiences. We have, can and will continue to do better.”
Not to say the remorse was entirely convincing, but I believe Hollywood is aware of our demands as an audience and will be taking steps to rectify some of the racial injustice in the movie business.
As for this movie, I would recommend it to those who enjoy watching terribly made films just for the laughs. If you’re not in that demographic, then you’re for a film that feels forced and that is almost uncomfortable to watch.