Adventure Fantasy

'Gods of Egypt' Film Review: Fantasy-adventure reimagines classic myth as superhero-like origin story

February 26, 2016Ben MK

If you combined the DNA of Thor and Prince of Persia, you might end up with something that looks a lot like Gods of Egypt, a special effects laden fantasy-adventure from Alex Proyas, the director behind Dark City and I, Robot, and a film that's also indebted to action-adventures like Clash of the Titans and Stargate.

Based loosely on one of the most well-known stories in Egyptian mythology, Gods of Egypt is, in essence, a reimagining of the Osiris myth as a kind of superhero origin story, portraying gods as towering, super-powered beings with gold coursing through their veins, with its central character being Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the God of the Air. A would-be king who's robbed not only of his title, but also of his superhuman powers, Horus must earn it all back by taking the fight to his betrayer, the vengeful desert god Set (Gerard Butler).

Screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless further embellish the classic myth by adding several other characters into the mix. Among them, we find the Goddess of Love Hathor (G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Elodie Yung), who also happens to be Horus' romantic interest, and a mortal named Bek (The Giver's Brenton Thwaites), an uncannily talented thief who plays a key role in the narrative, assisting Horus in recovering what Set has taken from him, in exchange for Horus' help in rescuing his love Zaya (Mad Max: Fury Road's Courtney Eaton) from the Afterlife.

Together, Horus and Bek embark on a journey that sees them visiting the spaceship-like edifice of Horus' grandfather Ra (Geoffrey Rush) and seeking help from the God of Wisdom, Thoth (the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman). Their adventure also throws them into battle against giant, fire-spewing serpents, as well as the demon Apophis, a monstrosity hellbent on destroying Egypt and all of creation, all culminating in a showdown with Set, who has concocted a nefarious plan worthy of a supervillain.

The result is far from original, borrowing not only from the aforementioned Thor and Prince of Persia, but also from movies like The Avengers. However, that's not to say that Gods of Egypt isn't moderately entertaining. From the looks of it, most of the film's $140 million budget has gone towards visual effects, meaning that moviegoers in the mood for a flashy, CGI-studded spectacle definitely won't be left disappointed, as there's certainly no shortage of scenes depicting epic landscapes, fantastical creatures and destruction on a generally massive scale.

Sadly, the same can't be said about the film's performances, which range from the mediocre to the downright terrible. Luckily, Gods of Egypt doesn't take itself too seriously, so the performances at the bottom rung of the spectrum end up registering as camp more than anything else. Ultimately, it all makes for a rather uneven film-going experience. Still, given the movie's over-the-top premise and ambitious attempt at genre-blending, you can consider it something of a minor miracle that Gods of Egypt doesn't fare far, far worse.

Gods of Egypt releases February 26th, 2016 from eOne Films. The film has an MPAA rating of PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, and some sexuality. Its runtime is 2 Hrs. 7 Mins.

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