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Gods of Egypt


Stars: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Chadwick Boseman, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Rufus Sewell, Gerard Butler, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown

Director: Alex Proyas

When the words “Few know the whole story” were intoned at the start of this reportedly $140 million budget alleged epic, I soon came to realise that this must have in some sense referred to both director Alex Proyas and screenwriters Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless since their film – while certainly spectacular – emerges as a super-fatty turkey large enough to feed the entire population of the United States at Thanksgiving (while being unlikely to be thanked for the experience by anyone who sees the film).

The setting is an invented ancient Egypt where gigantic gods live among mere midget (by comparison) humans (hordes of them generated and therefore unable to see the nonsense in which they are being forced to participate).

Gerard Butler consumes the scenery with relish as bad god Set who, having murdered Bryan Brown’s good king Osiris, usurps the throne from about-to-be-crowned good son Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, removing his eyes in the process - and then proceeds to behave very, very badly indeed…

Fortunately good thief and mere mortal Brenton Thwaites is on hand to save the day, find the missing eye of blinded god Horus and save the life of his lover Courtney Eaton who is heading into the afterlife and patently none too happy at the prospect…

Cue lashings of impressively conceived special effects which, while serving up visual marvels ad lib, can do nothing to hide the fact that these visions are merely gaudy wrapping paper designed – but failing - to disguise the hogwash that fills the screen for what seems like a lifetime.

The film runs, we’re told, for 127 minutes. It felt more like 127 days to me.

Carry on Cleo was funnier (although, to be fair, there the humour was deliberate). Here the unexpected comedy, delivered by dialogue and situations, is even sillier but presumably was not meant to be deliberate.

Ironically, perhaps, the acting here is even hammier than the Taylor-Burton double act in Cleopatra. Given the material with which they were saddled and, especially, the dialogue, however, it’s hard to beat up the gods, led by Butler et al, for their way over-the-top and camp performances, leaving Thwaites and Eaton to attempt, even if they finally fail, to deliver genuinely credible characters.

The Oxford dictionary defines kitsch as “Art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”.

Gods of Egypt perfectly defines kitsch (apart, that is, from any irony or knowing way).

And I can’t say pharaoh than that about this memorable drivel.

Alan Frank

USA 2016. UK Distributor: EntertainmentOne. Colour.
127 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 2, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 18 Jun 2016