Gods of Egypt: Film Review
Cast: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Geoffrey Rush, Rufus Sewell, Courtenay Eaton, Elodie Yung
Director: Alex Proyas
It's possible that the latest swords and sandals film will fall short, but it is not through lack of trying and digital ambition.
Essentially a throwback to the Ray Harryhausen FX pics of yore, Gods of Egypt centres around the age old rivalry between god brothers Horus (Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster Waldau) and Set (Gerard Butler).
When Set murders his father Osiris (Aussie Bryan Brown) on the day of Horus' coronation and rips out his eyes (the source of his power) Egypt is plunged into chaos.
Entering the fray is mortal thief Bek (an utterly underwhelming Brenton Thwaites) whose plan to raid the tomb and restore Horus' sight renders his nubile missus Zaya (Courtenay Eaton) dead as they flee.
Hoping Horus can save her from the afterlife, Bek strikes a bargain with the god and the mismatched buddies set off on a mission of redemption.
Gods of Egypt's creature ambitions out-strip its budget and the result is an FX addled character-less mess that lacks the charm of the likes of Clash of the Titans, but is reminiscent of what makes them successful.
Gerard Butler, complete with Scottish brogue, chews every piece of crumbling masonry in every scene he appears in, imbuing his Set with the tyrannical edge that's needed, but very little else. Equally, Coster-Waldau manages to convey a degree of misery and pity as the wronged god but he does little to give the character an edge that's needed.
Worst offender is Brenton Thwaites, whose acting is in the very loosest sense of the word - it's like he's reading the script for the very first time and doing little with it.
Geoffrey Rush shows up to cash his cheque as the sun god Ra in a side story that sees him effectively manning a spaceship of the gods and fighting off a smoke monster (no doubt left over from Lost) determined to plough the Nile into its belly.
In between the slow-mo shots and some slightly shonky looking CGI, director Alex Proyas (who did such a masterful job with the much under-rated Dark City) does what he can, but there simply is little in reserve to carry this through.
Digital wizardry left over from the Hobbit has these gods taller creatures than the men around them, but it's an image that never quite manages to succeed thanks to a script that fails to deliver any kind of dimension to the proceedings or any kind of stand out moments, thanks to characters that are weak and severely dramatically malnourished.
Ultimately, Gods of Egypt's FX are where the film rises and ironically falls. The scope of ambition and the design is impressive, there's no doubting the evocative nature of the era is well-realised, but it's all background dressing. With hammy dialogue, a weak story and visuals that are redolent of both Tomb Raider and the Mummy, Gods of Egypt is a mess of mythical proportions and a missed opportunity to stake its own place in anything other than infamy rather than cinematic mythology.