When it was first announced, Gods Of Egypt sounded like it could be a fun and interesting movie, with the Egyptian Gods living alongside man in a pretty fantasy sci-fi way. However, it was rather stillborn at the cinema, with terrible reviews and just $31 at the US Box Office, despite costing $140 million to make. It also got a lot of bad PR for being a film about Egypt, where nearly all the major characters are white, except for Chadwick Boseman’s Thoth.
The film kicks off with Osiris (Bryan Brown) being about to hand the job of ruling Egypt to his son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). However, Osiris’ aggrieved brother, Set (Gerard Butler), has other ideas, interrupting the ceremony, killing his sibling and stealing Horus’ eyes. The power-hungry Set takes over, plunging the country into chaos as a result.
Elsewhere, young human thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is determined not to lose his beloved to the underworld, and so decides to convince Horus to help save her him by returning one of his eyes to them. He discovers Horus is now bitter and angry, but they form a rather reluctant team, setting out to end Set’s reign, and hopefully get Bek’s girlfriend back.
Gods Of Egypt is one of those films where there’s enough there to suggest it could have been really good, but everything’s a little underdone. To start with the script needed a lot more work, not least to take out some genuinely cringeworthy dialogue and remove a tendency for the middle to feel like a succession of slightly random action sequences. Indeed, the propensity for everything to feel separate from everything else is particularly problematic and makes the movie rather episodic and as if it’s dragging on longer than it actually is.
Many have also commented on the special effects. Nearly every shot involves CGI as the vast majority of the movie was shot against blue screen. The result is that some of it looks pretty impressive, while some is shockingly abysmal, to the point that it’s often a bit distractingly shiny and hyper-real or looks cheaper than it actually was.
All that might have been forgivable if it had been about characters we cared about, but they tend to be either annoying (particularly the gods) or with such lightweight motivation that it becomes almost inexplicable in the face of what’s actually happening.
All of that could have been sorted out with a lot more thought put into everything beforehand and a stronger sense of continuity of story. Instead we have something that’s oddly goofy, implausible and keeps reminding you how fake it all is.
Oddly though, the featurettes included on the Blu-ray are quite interesting, partly to see how what they were aiming for didn’t quite match the end results, and also where they might have gone slightly wrong.
Overall Verdict: A fantasy sci-fi with Egyptian gods and humans – in a very different vein to Stargate – has a lot of potential, but that gets buried here with a leaden screenplay, episodic plot and characters that leave a lot to be desired.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac