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Gods of Egypt

An ungodly mess.
By Sarah Ward
February 28, 2016
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By Sarah Ward
February 28, 2016
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It has been less than two years since Ridley Scott told the tale of Moses leading the Hebrews from Egypt using a cast of white actors. Controversy surrounded Exodus: Gods and Kings, yet that hasn't stopped the latest Hollywood effort to spin a mythical story set in the region from following in its footsteps. Gods of Egypt asks audiences to accept Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Olympus Has Fallen star Gerard Butler as a pair of Egyptian deities. Australians also feature, with ex-Home and Away star Brenton Thwaites as the human caught in the middle of their feud, and national treasure Geoffrey Rush also popping up, all under the guidance of local writer-director Alex Proyas.

That a modicum of controversy has resulted from the casting could be a blessing in disguise, since the film offers little else to inspire much in the way of conversation. Aussie audiences might get a thrill out of spotting the likes of Bryan Brown and Tiriel Mora amidst the action, albeit only briefly. Video game fans might enjoy the movie's glossy, CGI-heavy visuals, which look as if they should be interacted with, rather than watched.

Few will find much of interest in the overarching story, which sets Coster-Waldau's Horus against Butler's Set in a battle for the Egyptian throne. When the latter interrupts the former's coronation, he takes control of the nation, threatens his fellow gods into submission and enslaves his subjects. Enter Thwaites' Bek, a thief more interested in his girlfriend, Zaya (Courtney Eaton), than his divine overlords — but willing to help Horus regain his rightful place, initially simply to please the object of his affections.

Gods of Egypt might sound like a sombre affair, but it soon proves anything but. Hammy performances and cheap looking special effects aren't the norm, though someone obviously forgot to tell that to the scenery-chewing Butler and whoever was responsible for the painfully unconvincing CGI flames. Elements like these are indicative of the film's cheesy, light-hearted tone. Trying to have fun with the material can't save or even significantly improve the film, but it does make it slightly easier to endure. If the feature isn't taking itself too seriously, audiences can follow suit.

In fact, in making a pseudo swords-and-sandals adventure that's also an odd couple buddy comedy and a clichéd romance, perhaps Proyas isn't just fashioning a fantasy version of the past. Perhaps he's also dreaming of the future. After all, both The Crow and Dark City, the two features the filmmaker remains best known for, largely became cult hits through repeated home video viewing. Gods of Egypt is unlikely to join them, but years from now, viewers might be laughing, Flash Gordon-style, at the ungodly mess Proyas has made.

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