This sword-and-sandal adventure (which is really a superhero film in disguise) is a thoroughly enjoyable visual feast, especially in 3D, thanks in no small part to its Australian cast.
Rare for a blockbuster action movie, it targets both genders. There are plenty of fights scenes — sword fights, magic and even battles in space — but at its heart it is a romance.
Gods of Egypt is essentially a love story between two Australian actors, Courtney Eaton as Zaya and Brenton Thwaites as Bek. It is also a love story between the vengeful god Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and goddess of love Hathor (Elodie Yung). Bek teams up with Horus to save his lover from death, and in the process defend the world from the merciless god of darkness — and a giant demon.
Relative newcomer Courtney Eaton steals the screen, not with her acting (no-one but Geoffrey Rush does this), but with her beauty. She is fresh from her breakout role as Cheedo the Fragile in Mad Max: Fury Road, and this role is sure to propel her further in Hollywood.
Eaton is one of the many visual drawcards that make this movie entertaining. It has plenty of beautiful women, muscular men, sumptuous costumes and impeccable CGI. The New Daily saw this film in 3D and recommends you do the same.
The film does have two major flaws. The dialogue is bad, and the acting in many places is not much better. But these faults are obscured by the raw star power of Gerard Butler, Games of Thrones‘ Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and, for an Australian audience, Geoffrey Rush as the sun god Ra, creator of the universe.
There is also the controversy over race. When the movie’s posters were first released in 2015, the film was accused of whitewashing. This is less obvious in the final film due the prominent roles of Chadwick Boseman and Elodie Yung. But it’s still a problem.
What saves the film is the concept and plot. For an action film, the plot is surprisingly faultless. As mentioned, it is two love stories couched in a galactic battle of good versus evil. These intertwined storylines work, without confusing the viewer or forcing them to accept the utterly implausible. It’s also complex enough to be enjoyed as a story, not endured as an endless series of fight scenes.
Another strength is that Gods of Egypt is essentially a superhero film dressed up in ancient Egyptian mythology — and superhero films are hot right now. But unlike many other such films, the viewer doesn’t need to have read 200 comic books and several Wikipedia pages to fully understand the fictional universe it creates.
The film opens with a short narration from Bek, which succinctly explains that the gods live among humans, are twice the height of their mortal subjects, have golden blood and can transform at will into powerful, animal-like creatures. Simple.
This is why Gods of Egypt surpasses its closest rival, the two Titans movies. This similar franchise, based on Greek mythology, was supposed to be a vehicle for Australian actor Sam Worthington, and packed similar star power in Ralph Fiennes and Liam Neeson. But it petered out with the cancellation of a planned third instalment, Revenge of the Titans. It was far less visually interesting — and far less like a superhero movie — than its Egyptian rival.