Gods Of Egypt begins with a sincere voiceover from Nickolaj Coster-Waldau, filling the viewer in on the history of ancient Egypt and how mortals worshipped and were governed by superior all powerful shape shifting Gods. The camera then swoops along the Nile, adorned with pyramids and lush temples amidst the brightly painted CGI landscape. It all seems to bode well for the expectant viewer.
The benevolent King of all Egypt, Osiris (Bryan Brown. Whatever happened to him?), is holding a ceremony to hand over his kingdom to his arrogant son Horus (Nickolaj Coster-Waldau). All the mortals and important Gods are present and correct to witness the momentous occasion. The King’s brother Set (Gerard Butler) arrives just before the coronation with an army of soldiers. He then proceeds to throw a huge dampener on his nephew’s big day, by killing his father, then plucking his nephew’s eyeballs from their sockets and claiming the kingdom and all its subjects for himself. Horus is then thrown into exile, until a cheeky thief called Bek (Brenton Thwaites) arrives with a proposition for the wounded God.
For the first ten minutes of Gods Of Egypt, I was invested and happily swept along by the proceedings. The costumes looked impressive and it seemed as if no expense had been spared on the CGI. The moment that Set and Horus transform into mythical animals in the midst of a duel was the point that the film ‘jumped the shark’, for me.
The dialogue is risible. The CGI initially impresses, but then it descends into a cheap looking cartoonish mess. Monsters, sandstorms, mythical temples and even a sphinx become increasingly boring to behold. But this is not the biggest problem with Gods Of Egypt. The screenplay by the improbably named Burk Sharpless and Matt Sazama is lacking in structure, humour and invention. This epic Australian production should have spent some of the alleged $140 million dollar budget on hiring some writers from Neighbours to do some script doctoring on this heartless cocktail of incompetence.
The film has a good cast. Nickolaj Coster-Waldau is badly served by this awful script and he looks rather uncomfortable delivering the turgid dialogue. The great Geoffrey Rush has a cameo as sun god Ra and even he cannot add even a hint of gravitas to proceedings.
The character of Bek teams up with Horus to reclaim his stolen throne. Brenton Thwaites tries but fails to convince as a plucky thief. His most memorable scene is the theft of Horus’ eye that is directly ripped off from Raiders of The Lost Ark and Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
Gerard Butler appears as the villain. A few years back, Gerard appeared in Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus. His turn as Aufidius convinced many people that he had more of a range than his filmography suggested. Alas, Gerard has been found out again. He attempts to channel his King Leonidas from 300 and even has a couple of shouty speeches. Yet, his ham-fisted performance here suggests that Gerard is a b-movie actor at best. At one point Set is driving a chariot, driven by two flying beetles. He barely manages to keep a straight face.
One of the few saving graces of this giant mess is Courtney Eaton’s Zaya, the object of Bek’s affections. Her fleeting presence and magnificent cleavage were enough to sustain me through the deathly dull experience of enduring this film.
Director Alex Proyas has made interesting pictures in the past. The likes of The Crow, Dark City and even I-Robot, were fairly decent. He fails to deliver this time around and offers up an incoherent, boring and cheap looking mess that has already flopped. Avoid.
Gods of Egypt is on general release