Even before its release, Gods of Egypt sparked furious debate, not about its quality but for the mainly white cast playing Egyptians. Whilst this sort of thing was acceptable in the early to mid 20th Century, such blight is now frowned upon.
Adding to its faded lustre is Gods of Egypt’s dud screenplay. Derivative of other sword and scandals epics, it fails to add much new but, in Hollywood, there’s no such thing as bad publicity with the curious sure to view this white-washed disaster no matter its low quality.
Set (Gerard Butler) is the Egyptian God of Darkness who savagely takes over the throne of the Egyptian empire. Ruling with an iron fist, not many dare to confront him. One who does is Bek (Benton Thwaites), who teams with Egyptian God Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to defeat him. On a mission to save the world, Bek stops at nothing to rid Egypt of Set’s unrelenting terror.
Entertainingly bad, Gods of Egypt is a train-wreck of a movie. From the over the top acting, dodgy CGI and diabolical dialogue, hardly anything works. Director Alex Proyas has done much better, as The Crow and Dark City attests. Gods of Egypt sees him on auto-pilot, showing no imagination in telling a compelling story in a very by-the-numbers effort. Whilst the action scenes are completely ridiculous in a fun way, the script’s mechanical nature exposes the film’s cynical heart.
Seeing local actors Bryan Brown and Geoffrey Rush playing Egyptian priests adds to the illusion of unreality. Although Gods of Egypt is meant to be a fantasy, it wouldn’t have hurt to have had Egyptian actors involved. This white-washing raises the uncomfortable spectre of the Black and White Minstrel Show from the ‘70s. There’s no excuse for this, although this simply adds another bad mark against a typically bloated and grotesque slice of Hollywood excess.
Every decade has its expensive cinematic follies with Gods of Egypt taking this year’s crown. Despite it being amusing in a bad way, it’s an exercise in celluloid folly one hopes isn’t repeated, even if such misfires have been mainstays in Tinsletown’s wayward history.
Reviewed by Patrick Moore
Rating out of 10: 1
Gods of Egypt will be released on DVD, 3D Blu-Ray & Digital on 29 June 2016.
This review was first published on 7 March 2016 for the cinema release.