AT some point in Gods of Egypt, you are tempted to reach for a console or keyboard because the movie feels like an extended video game.
It’s a fun watch, but the sword-slashing, wings unfurling, fantastical action become mind-numbing silliness. While the gods appear taller that the unwashed mortals, and morph into fine-looking approximations of what the gods of Egypt looked like (according to history), the CGi used to create these gods, savage soldiers and weaponry is not as advanced as what was used in, say, Baahubali.
Add this with dialogue that’s kitsch and hipster, and you have a movie that’s one of the best popcorn-eating offering of this genre in a cinema to date. Seriously.
In this movie, Set (played with hefty ease by Gerard Butler), the god of disorder, the desert, storms and maybe the underground, wrests control of Egypt from his nephew, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), lord of the land.
Set’s nice brother Osiris (Bryan Brown), has built a legacy where the afterlife is for everyone, not just the gods.
Their father, Ra, the Sun god (Geoffrey Rush), had sent Set away but Set has always wanted the crown. In the battle, Set and Horus quickly reveal their creature forms (winged and horned), and take the battle to aerial levels. It ends when Set gouges out the brilliant blue eyes of Horus, wherein lies the latter’s god-like powers.
Hathor (Elodie Yung), the goddess of love, pleads for mercy, and so Set sends the blind chap to a desert temple. Years later, as the mortals become enslaved by Set and a high price has been set for their entrance into the afterlife, a young female servant, Zaya (a rather bosomy Courtney Eaton), convinces her equally low-life boyfriend, Bek (Brenton Thwaites), to steal Horus’ eyes and give them back to him so that he can defeat Set.
Bek finds only one eye, after going through booby traps reminiscent of both Indiana Jones and Harry Potter movies.
But Zaya is slayed by an arrow, and is in the underworld on her journey to final judgement. Bek wants Horus to free her as only the king of Egypt can bring her back to the land of the living. He has a week before that window is closed.
Horus seeks help from his grandfather Ra, who sits in a solar boat and fight off the serpent of chaos, Apep. He gets what he wants but loses the magical potion to Set. The easily enraged Set seeks Ra, and tries to kill him. The serpent of chaos has now free passage to that glorious place called Egypt.
Director Alex Proyas (of Dark City fame) has given his own imagination free reign over these gods. Some Egyptian mythology is muddled up for entertainment sake.
You may notice that only Thoth, the father of science, religion, philosophy and magic, is a dark chap (Chadwick Boseman) is this particular version of Egypt.
The set, costumes and general look reminds me of old movies about Egypt with Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra. A nostalgic trip except for the unimaginative action, despite the spectacular final confrontation, and lack-lustre dialogue.
Gods of Egypt is quite engaging for its fast editing, quick scene cuts and glorious creatures including monstrous serpents and a sand-made sphinx, but don’t expect to learn anything from the movie.
** This review appeared in the new straits times.