We missed this film when it came out. After causing a serious box office stink across the pond, its time in UK cinemas was severely limited. I’m not even sure it made it through one screening. Luckily it has been permanently embalmed in the mausoleum of would-be blockbusters that never made their budget back: Amazon Prime instant video.
The plot is much akin to many another sword and sandal and/or sorcery flicks: the death of a noble ruler leads to a power struggle between the rightful heir and an evil usurper. The difference here is they’re 9ft tall gods capable of transforming into giant ass-kicking animal creatures, like a Hellenistic Hellboy.
The visual quality of this film has been roundly condemned by critics, but I actually wish we’d caught it on the big screen. The eye-exploding Candy Crush visuals are a shot of adrenaline for the retinas. The scale of of this film makes Gandhi look like Room. Embittered director Alex Proyas really goes all-out to pack in the elaborate mayhem, even if he skimps on the drama.
Compared to, say, The Last Airbender, the undisputed high watermark of fantasy drain spillage, which shoots everything in close-up to avoid having to fill all that space, Gods of Egypt‘s frenetic cinematography demands rich and varied visuals. Vast sets and elaborate sequences pack every second of this film. It’s easy to see where the budget went, even if it doesn’t look super-realistic. I was reminded of the Dolly Parton quote that “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap”.
As a spectacle it’s better than Dr Strange visiting Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It’s Joseph and the Technicolour bloodbath meets toga party Transformers. It’s Cleopatra and and it’s comin at ya. The visuals are amazingly eye-catching, yet it too often ends up looking like an Asda-price Asgard.
This is partly due to the weightless CGI puppets that fly around in a way that completely disobeys laws of physics. But the main reason it looks so horribly cheap is the fact that the real-life actors don’t look like they’re a part of it. The bright, even glow across their faces screams ‘blue screen’, and the conspicuously un-Egyptian cast frequently appear to have no idea what they’re meant to be looking at.
The bad direction, writing and acting add to the disconcertingly synthetic feel of a video game cut scene. It’s so fake-looking even the bits that are real look fake. It has the dialogue of a GCSE film project and the characterization of a non-biological laundry detergent. Gerard Butler proves about as convincing as an Egyptian god as he was as a Spartan, and the other actors really put the ham into Tutankhamun.
This film is like going to a monster truck show cut with a 90s soap opera. More coherent than Batman v Superman, and much more fun, it’s relatively undeserving of its status as a massive flop.