Walk like an Egyptian...

Please note the review below may contain minor spoilers - I've done my best to keep them to a minimum.

Since its initial cinematic release earlier this year, it has been plagued by movie critics across the world as the worst film of 2016. But does it really deserve that monicker? Is Gods of Egypt truly the worst film to grace our screens this year? I had to find out for myself.

Rather than an historical view of the ancient civilization, Gods of Egypt instead opts for the more literal sense, the fantastical, its storied mythology; as a drunken God, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) - notable for their larger than life stature compared to mortals - slumbers, stumbling around after what has clearly been a penchant night of partying - however ancient Egyptians may party.

As heís bathed and dressed, we learn that today is his inauguration by his father and reigning ĎKing of the Godsí Osiris (Bryan Brown), only the current King's brother Set - played by Gerard Butler - has other ideas, slaughtering his brother and proclaiming himself ruler.

With the once peaceful Egypt now plunged into chaos - the remaining defiant Gods hunted down and slaughtered - and the human mortals shackled into subservience, all seems lost. But one mortal woman still has hope; Zaya (Courtney Eaton) currently under the forced service of Urshi (Rufus Sewell) the personal Master Builder of Set - employed in the hope to construct monuments to please his spacefaring Father, Ra (Geoffrey Rush).

Zaya still has a modicum of hope though, and believes peace can once again return to their homeland if her current love interest Bek (Brenton Thwaites) can use his thievery skills to free Horus and return what was stolen from him - his own eyes.

A filmic masterpiece? Highbrow art? Gods of Egypt fits with none of these labels - part and parcel the cause of many horrid critical reviews - but one thing it truly achieves, pure escapism.

As a young child getting invested within the medium of film for the first time, one of the early films that sparked my imagination and wonder of what could truly be possible was Jason and the Argonauts; witnessing a world on screen very unlike our own, along with creatures feeling so alive that have manifested from pure imagination - released today that film would be laughed at. Is it any wonder then that the genre has been so underserved for decades? Relegated to b-movie budgets and 90ís television shows like Hercules and Xena.

Gods of Egypt is a two hour ride that will at first blow you away with how beautiful it all looks, yes the film is paper thin, with a plot that basically lends itself to moving from one spectacular action set piece to the next, but it does so in beautiful fashion - clearly every frame of its $140 million budget has been spent on screen - and might I say they nailed the size disparity that caused fellow fantasy film Lords of the Rings so many problems.

Gods of Egypt - Horus, Hathor, Bek & Toth with giant Sphinx (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Elodie Yung, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton and Chadwick Boseman)

What also works well within Gods of Egypt is the lore on display, instead of lending itself to a modicum of realism - in turn connecting it to our own world, like many modern fantasy efforts now strive for - it fully understands the absurdity on screen and instead goes full bore into those ancient mythological roots and takes them at face value - complete with Ra, the God of all creation sailing a boat in space, whilst staving off the terrifying Apophis, a giant space-serpent every night. Yes itís all existentially absurd, but perfectly fits together as a whole within the world crafted on screen.

Gods of Egypt is also a film that just aims to be pure fun, and this permeates through the performances themselves - and indicated through its special features - with the actors clearly enjoying their more physical, sometimes hammy renditions and just basically having a laugh with the whole thing.

With a plot of - basically like all age-old tales - good versus evil, thereís not a whole lot to get invested in, but surprisingly you do become invested in Horus and Bek, for as much as Gods of Egypt is swords-and-sandals, popcorn eye-candy, itís also a buddy movie with a fulfilling arc beyond its action culmination. And speaking of action, Gods of Egypt has plenty on show, whether it's battling giant monsters or fellow Gods - with obvious careful attention to fight choreography - and succeeding where a lot of action-led films commit a cardinal sin, in actually making the action actually followable to the viewer's eye.

Special Features

Battle for Eternity: Stunts - A roughly 11 minute segment showcasing the various choreographed action set pieces and the tiring work from Tim Wong and his crew - who also worked on Max Max: Fury Road - that goes into them. Here youíll get a glimpse into how much actual fun Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Brenton Thwaites are having playing larger-than-life characters and the freedom that their physical performances entail.

Window into another World: Visual Effects - If thereís one thing Gods of Egypt can truly boast about, is its abundance of fantastic looking CGI, within this 10 minute segment youíll gather a quick look into the various Australian-based companies who were employed to work on specific segments within Gods of Egypt - along with detailing each of their strengths - to see a scene fully come to life.

Itís a shame that Gods of Egypt is missing some form of directorís commentary from Alex Proyas which would have ensured repeat viewing and shed some insight into what is a very visually rich film.

Much like the recent Warcraft movie, Gods of Egypt is the reason why the medium exists, to create strange worlds very unlike our own, to transport us there and allow us to escape from our lives for a few hours, and Gods of Egypt wholly succeeds in that effort.

If thereís one thing Iíve come to understand from my short time spent with Gods of Egypt, itís that not only were the critics wrong in initially lambasting Gods of Egypt with the title of Ďworst film of 2016í - if they believe that then they truly havenít seen bad films - but that itís more indicative that thereís really no longer a space for pure high-fantasy films like Gods of Egypt to exist in the critical space for many - which is the true shame.

If youíre looking for a piece of well-crafted cinema, to weave you a story youíll never forget, or something that youíll become emotionally gripped by, then look elsewhere. But if all you want is a fun two hour ride, with plenty of action, monsters, and absurd theatrics emblazoned with some of the best CG in recent years within every frame, then Gods of Egypt might just be right up your alley.

A DVD review copy of Gods of Egypt was provided by the distributor for review purposes.

  • Review by
    David Robinson

    Twitter: @5ypher

    Posted on
    24th October 2016

  • 3 Out of 5 Stars
  • Thin plot

    Lack of emotional investment

    No director's commentary

  • Beautiful CG

    Egyptian lore

    Fun action

Film Info

Gods of Egypt Gods of Egypt
Rating: 12
Release Date: 24th October
Runtime: 2 hr 6 mins
Director: Alex Proyas
Starring: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Geoffrey Rush & Elodie Yung

  • Warcraft: The Beginning
  • Conan
  • Clash of the Titans

Yes, it contains one or two scenes of actual human violence, but mostly in the fantasy realm involving CG monsters and Gods.

Filming Gods of Egypt occurred in the Australian desert, which served for the Sahara desert. It was considered to film in the Sahara itself but it was felt to be too dangerous.

Gods of Egypt actually features no Egyptian-born actors.

Director Alex Proyas' (known for The Crow) first feature in seven years.