Gods of Egypt has the needed ingredients to make an epic fantasy film, but gets weighed down by bloated CGI, silly plot elements, and a familiar story.
Directed by Alex Proyas (I, Robot and The Crow) from a screenplay by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (The Last Witch Hunter), Gods of Egypt features a solid ensemble cast including Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Elodie Yung, Rachael Blake, Bryan Brown, Emma Booth, Chadwick Boseman, Rufus Sewell and Gerard Butler.
It features lush production design from Owen Paterson (Captain America: Civil War) and costume design by Liz Keogh (Dark City).
Filmed in Australia, Gods of Egypt kicks off with the telling of how the world was made (it is flat) and how the gods chose to stay with their human creations. It is easy to spot a god among the humans since the gods are giants and can transform into their golden animal forms. They also bleed liquid gold.
While trying to stay as spoiler free as possible, Gods of Egypt follows Bek (Thwaites), a poor thief who is in love with Zaya (Eaton). Bek has little use for the gods, but that doesn’t stop him from finding the perfect gift for Zaya to present for the coronation of Horus (Coster-Waldau). The Lord of the Air is assuming the throne as King of Egypt from his father Osiris (Brown) and all have come to witness the event and celebrate.
Naturally everything goes wrong as Set (Butler) arrives in grand style to celebrate his nephew’s accomplishment before taking the throne from himself – in a brutal fight that would make Michael Bay proud. Set rips Horus’ eyes out (robbing him of his godly powers) and exiles him.
The film then jumps a year and becomes pretty much a “by the numbers” fantasy quest. Bek tries to free Zaya from her master, chief architect Urshu (Sewell). Zaya believes in Horus and convinces Bek they need to get the god to return and overthrow Set. The plot moves at a fast pace as Bek takes on Set’s vault; discovers where Horus has been hiding (he has pretty much been drunk for a year) and convinces the god to get back into the fight. There is also a quick flight to the heavens for a chat with Horus’ grandfather Ra (a wasted Geoffrey Rush).
Gods of Egypt is not a good movie. The film’s plot is extremely familiar and instantly reminds of Clash of the Titans or a bad video game adaptation like Prince of Persia. The film lumbers from one action sequence to the next with little thought to character development or time spent really caring about anything happening on the screen.
The overuse of CGI makes the film laughable at times (the giant god idea might have been good on paper, but watching little humans bathe a giant god is hilarious) and kills any suspense during the action sequences (I was laughing whenever the gods would transform into their animal forms).
The ensemble cast all seem out of place in their roles and do little to help sell the believability of what is happening on screen. Butler is great screaming “This is Sparta!,” but comical discussing his godly lineage with his brother Osiris. It doesn’t help that none of the cast do anything to hide their natural accents so we have gods with European accents, American accents, and Australian accents.
Gods of Egypt’s Blu-ray comes loaded with bonus material to help make it worth the purchase price. Special features include deleted storyboards, looks at how the filmmakers created the world, transformed the actors into their various characters, and captured the large action sequences.
Alex Proyas has an incredible eye for visuals as seen in his early work The Crow and Dark City. This film feels like he was given a box with too many crayons and decided to use everyone. While it may get better with multiple viewings, the film relies on its visual effects to give it a sense of awe, but fails to capture the epic scale of its story.