Main cast: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (Horus), Gerard Butler (Set), Brenton Thwaites (Bek), Élodie Yung (Hathor), Courtney Eaton (Zaya), Rufus Sewell (Urshu), Chadwick Boseman (Thoth), Geoffrey Rush (Ra), and Bryan Brown (Osiris)
Director: Alex Proyas
Gods of Egypt has a pretty cast, and in a way, it must be commended for having the guts to have a movie based on Egyptian mythology but ramped up on steroids in such a way that everyone here speaks in a different accent (Gerard Butler isn’t bothering even a bit to tone down his accent), and the Egyptian pantheon is led by a bunch of white people.
Anyway, the Earth is flat in this one, and the cosmology is such that Ra, the Sun God, spends eternity in space on a space ship that I swear I’ve seen before in a Lego catalogue, battling the giant chaos worm Apophis who just wants to devour all creation. Down on Earth, his sons Osiris and Set play gods along with other deities in a futuristic version of Egypt. Set is the god of deserts, so he spends his time wandering on the dunes while Osiris lounges in his palace at the oasis, surrounded by his worshipers and fellow deities. As you can imagine, Set is not a happy camper. When this movie opens, Osiris decides to retire and hands his crown to his son Horus. Set shows up at the coronation ceremony with his army, kills Osiris, and rips out Horus’s eyes. Now in charge, Set makes every human his slave and makes it such as you cannot pass on to the afterlife if you do not have lots of money.
Bek is a mortal who doesn’t have faith in the gods doing anything good for mortals. He spends his time stealing and picking pockets while whining that he can’t keep his wife Zaya in luxury. Yes, he’s supposed to be the representation of mortal free will or some nonsense of that sort. At any rate, after Set’s takeover, Zaya ends up a slave working for Urshu, an architect who designs Set’s pyramid as well as the place where Set kept one of Horus’s eyes. Zaya suggests to Bek, who is apparently the best thief ever just because, that he can steal the eye and gives it back to Horus, who is currently rolling around half-naked and drunk in his father’s bungalow-tomb, so that Horus can come back and kick Set out of the throne. Things don’t go as planned, Zaya dies, and Bek tells Horus that he will help that drunkard jackass get back his throne in exchange for Zaya being brought back to life. Joining them is Hathor, the goddess of love (which is not a cow at all, unlike the actual Hathor, but Elodie Young in a sexy dress), who becomes Set’s mistress to spare Horus’s life, only to have Horus go, “Uh, uh, uh, what a ho!” at her.
Gods of Egypt is not a very fun movie because, for a long time, it suffers from the same problem that plagued Thor: the villain upstages the hero, and the villain also has a very good reason to be what he is. In this case, Ra plays his sons against one another, and sets Osiris up as the fecund ruler with a dynasty as his legacy while Set is made to wander around the desert until he graduates to take over Ra’s place and spends eternity sticking a burning stick at a bad CGI of a moving swirl of dark clouds. Ra calls Set’s destiny “an honor like no other”. Hard to blame Set for thinking otherwise. It also doesn’t help that Horus spends a big bulk of the movie acting like an ungrateful brat who whines and wallows in self pity. Why do we want to see him as the boss again? The movie tries to make an argument that Horus would learn very important lessons like loving one’s humans by the end of the day, which begets the question as to why crown that brat when he’s not ready to be a wise ruler. It’s all Osiris’s fault for spoiling his heir and Ra’s fault for being a crap father and grandfather. Set may have the right idea in reshaping the way creation works, even if his execution is lamentable.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is easy on the eyes, but let’s face it: he’s Casper Van Dien with better career choices. He looks the part, but he has little screen presence and his voice is all wrong for the part. One of the most awkward and unintentionally hilarious moments is Mr Coster-Waldau delivering a supposedly epic speech with his reedy voice. He’s fortunate that Brenton Thwaites is in this movie, because Mr Thwaites is singularly the most annoying thing in this movie, thus eclipsing his awfulness. Mr Thwaites has an annoying slap-worthy face, his hair and clothes here resemble an Amish kid’s efforts to dress up like a member of Whitesnake, and his annoying non-stop delivery of some of the clumsiest and unfunniest one-liners in existence are all awful, perhaps second only to Jar Jar Binks. Gerard Butler shows some skin and is the least annoying male cast in this movie, so even on a superficial level, Set has all of these losers beat.
The ladies are fine, though. Hathor is mostly eye candy, but she is rarely a damsel in distress. She holds her own quite well, and the one time she gets into trouble, she does it voluntarily to help Bek and Zaya, so I can’t object to that. Come to think of it, she’d probably be a better ruler of Egypt than Horus the whiny crybaby. Zaya is basically the girlfriend character, but since she’s paired with Bek, she comes off so much better than she normally would.
The script is pretty awful, as it’s basically one action sequence after another, but after a while, all the awkward CGI overdose gets too much that I eventually stop trying to make sense of things and just go with the flow. I stop caring about the story and start thinking things such as:
- Ooh, the armor plate worn by Horus reminds me of that old cartoon SilverHawks, and not in a good way.
- Set’s armor plate looks pretty cool, I wish that armor set is available in Guild Wars 2.
- Hathor’s dress is really pretty. If I have the body, I’d probably wear that every day.
- It’s a good thing the CGI is not carcinogenic, I’m exposed to it way too much here.
- Is Gerard Butler wearing anything underneath those short skirt-things?
And so forth.
If someone had dubbed over Mr Coster-Waldau’s voice and Bek had been put down early in the movie, this one would have been a standard big and dumb action flick, worth a watch if you manage your expectations accordingly. But Gods of Egypt has too much annoying nonsense to be worth the aggravation, and most of that nonsense stems from the presence of Bek in this movie. So watch it if you want, but wait to rent it instead of watching it on the big screen.