Beset by controversy, “Gods Of Egypt” finally arrives in the UK, bringing Harrod’s Egyptian Escalator to gloriously over-the-top bombastic life.
In a mythical ancient Egypt where gods and men live side by side, the vengeful God Of The Desert, Set (Gerard Butler), seizes the throne for himself, blinding his nephew Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and casting him out into the wilderness. It’s up to Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a mortal thief, to convince Horus to overthrow his uncle and restore the kingdom to glory.
From the moment Gerard Butler’s scenery chewing Set beats down his nephew with what looks like a Dyson vaccum cleaner attachment, you know you’re in for a good time (although you may have been tipped off earlier by Bryan Brown being cast as Osiris). Okay, sure, it’s a garish, ridiculous, overblown riff on the myths and legends of Ancient Egypt appropriated and adapted with all the cultural sensitivity of J K Rowling but it’s not for one moment pretending to be serious, cerebral or even loosely connected with any kind of reality. This gold-plated, jewel-encrusted mash-up of nearly every popular (and some not so popular) movie of the last thirty years, is an Eighties sci-fi adventure extravaganza realised through 21st century technology. There’s an undeniable cultural tone-deafness to the fact there are no Egyptian actors in the principle cast but we’re not dealing with an egregious attempt at historical accuracy like “Exodus: Gods And Kings”. Butler is clearly having the time of his life stomping around the green-screen draped sets while Coster-Waldau plays it dead straight, with an earnestness that’s almost endearing. The rest of the cast seem happy just to indulge the pantomime of it all, not least of all Chadwick Boseman who camps it up marvellously as Thoth, the God of Wisdom.
“Gods Of Egypt” is nonsense. Big, giddy, gratuitously dumb nonsense. It’s also terrific Friday night post-pub fun. It’s exactly the kind of movie you would get if you asked “Batman & Robin”-era Joel Schumacher to adapt “Game Of Thrones” and if that’s not enough to persuade you to give 2016’s guiltiest pleasure a try, I don’t know what is.