“Gods of Egypt” is a fantasy action film with a big imagination, big effects, larger than life heroes and exotic images. After its trailer release, it was a no-brainer that this film would be a distorted portrayal of the time, place and people, with little substance to boot. Predictably, it boasts just that, with intense action sequences and outstanding visuals but below average performances as well as laughable dialogue and superficial themes. The focus on the special effects and visuals marginalizes the characters as well as the storytelling.
The voiceover narrative at the start of the film is a common technique used to set the stage and at times, instill shivers in its audience. Irrespective, it does nothing here but explain that the gods live with mortals, are abnormally taller and other unimportant information to be forgotten–like the fact that their blood is gold. Then, with no prelude, Set (Gerard Butler), the god of darkness, appears at the coronation of Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), only to bring chaos to the prosperous empire by stealing the throne.
Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a mortal hero with no backstory as well as impressive yet unexplained skills, forms an alliance with Horus to defeat Set and save his beloved, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), who is taken captive during Set’s reign. Additionally, the goddess of love, Hathor (Elodie Yung), is strung along to provide female fervor and an emotional mirror between mortals and gods, while Geoffrey Rush plays the sun god Ra, complete with strangely fake-looking fire.
The romantic endeavors are unbelievable and ill-placed, friendships weak and characters cringe-worthy. Certain lines meant to be clever and humorous are a phenomenal failure. The spectacle of having any story set in the past performed with English accents is exaggerated and unbearable here, with a lack of depth to the dialogue and proper pacing to supplement. Hathor is the only redeemable character, portraying a classy and seductive goddess who cares to express playfulness as well as sorrow somewhat believably. Yet even the film’s attempt at exoticism feels inauthentic. Its engaging quality rests with its visuals and special effects, even though the quality shifts from outstanding to sub-par at times.
The story is appealing in the mythological sense, but the themes produced from that mythology, including the idea of the ancient gods, the afterlife and mortal reconciliation seem silly overall. Horus and Set are pretentious gods and the former is audacious enough to say that during his father’s reign, “even the poor” could roam the now deserted gardens, bringing to question how prosperous their kingdom really was. Although the gods are known to embody these characteristics, the film seeks to portray them as the heroes regardless, the formerly mentioned line intended for good.
“Gods of Egypt” expresses an intense effort in its cinematography, but is accompanied by disappointing characters that are all brawn and no brain or heart. The characters are forgettable and lack substance, and watching the actors’ mediocre attempts at delivering their lines heroically proves difficult. Additionally, the dialogue is feeble and the themes remarkably conceited. The film boasts an opportunity to watch an action-packed, CGI-filled production nostalgic of mythology with a terrible attempt at a fantastical and contrived portrayal of ancient Egypt.
“Gods of Egypt” expresses an intense effort in its cinematography, but is accompanied by disappointing characters that are all brawn and no brain or heart. The characters are forgettable and lack substance, and the dialogue is comically bad.