“Gods of Egypt” looks at the battle between Set (Gerard Butler) and Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to be the king of Egypt. Their battle’s staged with such clunky special effects, hackneyed dialogue and amateurish acting that instead of being a battle royal, it’s purely “Ra”-tten.
It is a time of peace and great cleavage. The roguish Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and his Victoria Secret-like love, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), attend the coronation of Horus. Before he can slip into the crown, Set shows up with a different plan. He takes the crown and after plucking out the eyes of Horus begins a war on other Egyptian gods.
Bek, who looks like an extra from a touring company of “Aladdin,” manages to steal back one eye for Horus and convince him to fight for his title. This sets off a series of walks across the desert, through swamps and up mountains that rarely make any sense.
Horus knows he can’t defeat Set unless he gets some help from his grandfather, Ra (Geoffrey Rush). Casting Rush to play the top god is one of many miscues.
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When Anthony Hopkins was selected to play Odin in the “Thor” movies, he brought a regal tone to the role. Rush comes across less as a god and more like a man who should be wandering around a nursing home in nothing but an untied robe and pink bunny slippers. Rush’s work is a miss, but he’s not alone.
The same kind of speeches Butler gave the Spartans in “300” that were so inspiring come across in “Gods of Egypt” with so little enthusiasm its as if he’s trying to rally the troops into an afternoon nap.
Part of the problem is that the script by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless is monumentally bad. It starts with Set’s plan, which includes unleashing a space-traveling dust worm to destroy the world. This may just be a mortal thinking, but if you wipe out the world, there isn’t much left to rule.
Then there’s the idea that the Egyptian gods are powerful enough to rule the land. But, Bek ends up smarter, braver and more inspiring than any of them. He can out think Thoth (Chadwick Boseman), the god of wisdom, and is immune to the charms of Hathor (Elodie Yung), the god of love. And, these are the people who are supposed to be in charge.
It might have worked if Bek hadn’t been such a wimpish, bland and annoying character. At times it looks like he’s there to be the hero and at other times as comic relief. Thwaites has neither the on-screen presence to play the heroic elements nor the charm to make the humor work.
Director Alex Proyas compounds the problem by staging the film with a deep embrace of the mundane, only made worse by cheesy special effects. Many of the battle scenes look like they were created with a Commodore 64. Superimposed backgrounds haven’t looked so fake since the 1940s.
As if all of that wasn’t bad enough, “Gods of Egypt” is in 3D. The gimmick does less to enhance the visual effects and more to make every scene dark and washed out. It’s just light enough to see all of the movies massive flaws.
“Gods of Egypt” is the most epic sun-and-sand disaster since Elizabeth Taylor almost broke 20th Century-Fox with her 1963 film “Cleopatra.”