Alex Proyas’s Gods of Egypt is a deeply stylish and deeply hollow fantasy adventure in which it is hoped that the spectacular visual effects will blind audiences to the absence of a credible storyline.
Set in ancient Egypt and featuring a Percy Jackson-like plot in which outsized gods rule over normal-scale mortals, the 127-minute movie has at least a handful of set pieces that will keep complete boredom at bay. Egyptian god Horus (Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is unseated and blinded by his ambitious and evil uncle Set (Gerard Butler) on the eve of his crowning as the king of Egypt. Set makes slaves of his citizens while he canoodles with Horus’s ex, Hathor (Elodie Yung), even as Horus writhes in agony in a dark crypt somewhere.
Mortal thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) sets the plot into motion when he decides to restore Horus’s sight in order to free his beloved Zaya (Courtney Eaton), who is slaving away in the luxurious quarters of the court architect. The lengthy and convoluted rescue mission brings the real deities of this movie – the visual effects team – into play. Among the eye-popping sequences aimed at hard-selling the 3D conversion include Horus and Bek running for their lives across a stone maze while being pursued by two women on giant snakes, the encounter between the god of knowledge Thoth and the Sphinx, and Horus’s meeting with his grandfather Ra (Geoffrey Rush), the sun god who floats above the clouds in a celestial chariot that is better than all the wheels below on earth.
The use of Caucasian actors to play Egyptians, the wild mix of accents (American, Scottish and British) and the anachronistic dialogue indicate that Egypt is just a disposable backdrop for computer-generated mayhem. The acting is subservient to the action, design trumps character development and the pretty costumes and lovely jewellery compensate for the lack of charismatic faces. In its tedium, Gods of Egypt is only mortal.