Director: Alex Proyas
Cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites, Elodie Yung, Chadwick Boseman, Rufus Sewell, Courtney Eaton and Geoffrey Rush
Running Time: 127 minutes
Release Date: June 17th
Here’s the thing. Schlock can be glorious fun but you need to commit to the bit. There’s a moment early on in Gods of Egypt, a gaudy mess of gargantuan proportions that should see Alex Proyas exiled from the Hollywood studio system, where Nikolaj Coster-Waldau blows a war horn in a manner so flamboyant that the late Clarence Clemons might blush. It is a hilarious visual, truly laughable, and sadly it is also the peak of Gods of Egypt’s goofiness.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of bizarre elements clattering around; Gerard Butler’s wildly inconsistent accent work, Geoffrey Rush battling a giant space worm, the Earth matter-of-factly presented as being flat, Bryan Brown’s soul patch… but Gods of Egypt seldom feels like it’s in on the joke. Instead, Proyas has cobbled together a lifeless affair that feels an hour longer than it actually is.
The plot, then. Gods and humans live together in seeming harmony, despite a weird height difference that looks utterly absurd and seems to vary from scene to scene. As the brash Horus (Coster-Waldau, picking up a cheque while he waits desperately for the Game of Thrones writing team to stop botching the character of Jaime Lannister) is set to be crowned King Of All Egypt, gruff uncle Set (Butler, doing his thing) interrupts the ceremony in violent fashion, murdering his brother before blinding and exiling Horus.
Meanwhile, a plucky young thief named Bek (Brenton Thwaites of Home and Away fame) — who might as well sport the moniker of ‘Aladdin’ as he’s such a clone that you expect him to stumble upon a magic lamp or break into song at any moment — loses the love of his life (Courtney Eaton from Mad Max: Fury Road in a role where her entire characterisation amounts to a plunging neckline) thanks to the nefarious efforts of Rufus Sewell, testing his range by playing a villain for the hundredth time. Keen to bring her back from the underworld and restore order to a now-apocalyptic Egypt, Bek enlists the help of a reluctant Horus and classic buddy comedy road movie hijinks ensue.
Only this adventure is grey and ponderous even as a rainbow of cheap CGI vomits across the screen, giant warriors bleed gold and Geoffrey Rush drags the sun around atop a floating space galleon. Chadwick Boseman attempts to inject some camp nonsense into proceedings but he’s so tonally at odds with everything else that it’s just grating. Gerard Butler, a man so one-dimensional I’d be surprised if he could walk and chew gum at the same time, is afforded plenty of opportunity to chomp on scenery but his limitations are exposed to such a degree here that you wonder why he keeps getting work. Coster-Waldau is serviceable but his Horus is such a petulant dickhead for most of the running time that his eventual redemption falls flat.
Gods of Egypt is a terrible film. Amusingly, the Wikipedia synopsis (who cares enough about films like this to write those up, anyway?) notes that the action is set in an “alternative” Egypt, which is certainly one way of explaining why there’s so many white Europeans and Australians milling about. The film has been hammered on the whitewashing front, but honestly it’s difficult to really get worked up over the kind of wretched effort that most of the cast will probably hope to scrub from their IMDb page before all is said and done. Sound and fury, tale told by an idiot, et cetera.