There may be several worse films than Gods of Egypt released over the next 10 months, though there probably won’t be any bigger financial duds; the $140 million fantasy epic, launched by Lionsgate as the start of a new franchise, likely won’t even make that (admittedly hefty) price tag back over the course of its theatrical run, and given the hilariously tawdry final product, rightly so.
In an alternate history Egypt, mortal hero Bek (Brenton Thwaites) is forced to team up with the belligerent, blinded God Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) against Horus’ uncle, Set (Gerard Butler), who has taken the throne for himself and insisted that his subjects must buy their way into the afterlife with riches.
The hits just keep on coming for director Alex Proyas, who once upon a time had a promising career with the visionary likes of The Crow and Dark City, but after the decent-if-flawed I, Robot and mediocre Knowing, the Egyptian filmmaker has truly coughed up a slop bucket of atrocious big-budget nonsense.
There’s certainly a version of this film which better embraced its patent insanity; this is a film that depicts the Earth as a flat disc, boasts wildly over-the-top performances, features Gods battling each other in Iron Man-esque mech suits and Geoffrey Rush as Ra, the towering sun-God who rides a gigantic cosmic boat which he uses to battle a shadow monster, Apophis, on a nightly basis.
Despite all this silliness, it’s a surprisingly joyless affair for the most part; yes, Butler, Rush and Chadwick Boseman (playing Thoth) are clearly aware they’re not in an Oscar-winner and camp it up accordingly, but most of the amusement flies in the face of a po-faced script and deference towards serious investment in characters you won’t even begin to warm to. Had it doubled down on the big, dumb fun, this could have been one of the year’s most enjoyable guilty pleasures.
It also doesn’t help that this is a deeply ugly thing to look at; despite the colossal budget, the visual effects stink from a mile off at almost all times, resembling a video game you’d blast through in a quick weekend and return to the store, never to speak or even think of ever again. Though it might do the job for those prepared to sink a generous number of beers before watching, it’s brutally overlong at 127 minutes in length and probably already set to win Worst Picture at next year’s Razzies.
Gods of Egypt is in US cinemas now