Gods of Egypt is a dried out desert deity dud [Review]

Lucy Christie |

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This image released by Lionsgate shows Gerard Butler portraying Set in a scene from "Gods of Egypt." (Lionsgate via AP)

A fantasy film directed by Alex Proyas, Gods of Egypt is set in a dystopian-style Egypt where gods live alongside mortals. Osiris (Bryan Brown) is basically the good-guy god, who rules over Egypt and all the mortals and gods love him. His brother, Set (Gerard Butler) gets to rule over the dry, empty desert, and understandably, he’s pretty upset about this.

Set decides to take back what he feels is rightfully his, killing Osiris and plucking out the eyes of his son, Horace (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). That’s kind of important, because for Horace, his eyes are his special strength. Set declares himself the new king of Egypt. Horace, still a god but now blind and weak, hides out in exile in a temple in the desert, vowing to get his revenge.

Under Set’s rule, things in Egypt are particularly bad for the mortals, including the other main character, Bek (Brenton Thwaites). He is a cheeky thief determined to find a better life for himself and his fellow slave girlfriend, Zaya (Courtney Eaton). Bek doesn’t really believe in the gods, but Zaya does, and she convinces Bek that if he steals back Horace’s eyes from Set and returns them to Horace, he will save Egypt.

There’s also a god called Ra, who is the father of Set and Osiris, and the one who created, well, all of creation. With so many characters and sub plots to keep up with, the film can’t really devote enough time to fully developing any of them.

There are also a lot of “What did I do to deserve this, father?” from Set, and one too many speeches about “This is my journey” from other characters. Throw in a serious amount of CGI effects, a lot of futuristic battles and countless bizarre creatures, and this film feels a bit like a mash-up of Game of ThronesLord of The Rings, and The Lion King – Set could almost be Scar with a Scottish accent. Gerard Butler doesn’t try to tone down this strong accent either, and aside from this being completely out of context in historic Egypt, his character swings from being severe and merciless one minute to cracking jokes the next.

This split personality is quite jarring and doesn’t really work, but it’s not just Butler at fault; this awkward and ill-timed humour is a prominent theme. Many of the jokes fall flat as the film struggles to strike a balance between serious epic and light-hearted fantasy, with the result being more cringe than comical.

Overall, this is an easy watch, and at least it avoids the pitfalls of a typical narrative with some original plot twists, but it’s not enough to save the film.