Gods of Egypt (3 stars)

Gods of Egypt

Impressive effects are the highlight of an enjoyably awful blockbuster starring Gerard Butler

With rivals understandably keen to follow Marvel and DC’s example of creating interlocking cinematic universes, the hefty $140 million budget for intended franchise-opener Gods of Egypt is comprehensible, even if the end result is anything but. Myths about deities are the inspiration for an eye-popping but narratively jumbled blockbuster that won few admirers on its US release, but that hits the so-bad-it’s-good bullseye perfectly.

The film takes place in an alternative Egypt where gods walk amongst men, and are able to transform themselves at will into fearsome beasts. With King Osiris (Bryan Brown) about to abdicate, a power struggle between two gods, his son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and brother Set (Gerard Butler), kicks-off with Set tearing out Horus’s eyes and banishing him from the mortal world. A common thief called Bek (Brenton Thwaites) retrieves one of the eyes, and leads the wronged god back for a rematch, right on top of the giant obelisk Set has been erecting.

Egyptian-born director Alex Proyas (The Crow; I, Robot) is at the helm but there are no Egyptians in the core cast. Instead Proyas hands improbable roles to Bruce Spence, Rufus Sewell and Geoffrey Rush – the latter orbiting Earth on a giant boat as Ra, Set’s father. But hokey dialogue (‘A deal with the gods? It’s not worth the papyrus it’s written on!’) reveals that Gods of Egypt clearly has bigger problems than its racially insensitive casting.

The real stars here are the special effects, which are imaginative and visually dynamic, but they are not enough to offset the alternately po-faced and silly script. Although likely to be remembered as a misfire, there’s lots of entertainment to be derived from the oddball mixture of lofty ambition and barrel-scraping comedy.

General release from Fri 17 Jun.

Gods of Egypt

  • 3 stars
  • 2016
  • US
  • 2h 7min
  • 12A
  • Directed by: Alex Proyas
  • Cast: Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Bryan Brown
  • UK release: 17 June 2016

In an alternative world where the gods walk the earth, Egyptian gods Set (Butler) battles Horus (Coster-Waldau) and tears out his eyes – whereupon Horus wants revenge. Extremely silly blockbuster with racially insensitive casting (not an Egyptian among them), but the mixture of lofty ambition, hokey dialogue and…