Shape-shifting gods and mortals collide

Scene from Gods of Egypt PA/Entertainment One
Scene from Gods of Egypt PA/Entertainment One

GODS OF EGYPT (12A, 127 mins) Action/Fantasy/Adventure/Romance. Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Brenton Thwaites, Elodie Yung, Courtney Eaton, Geoffrey Rush, Bryan Brown, Rachael Blake. Director: Alex Proyas.

Released: June 17 (UK & Ireland)

Swords, sandals and silliness are in abundance in Alex Proyas’ lumbering fantasy adventure, set in a sprawling ancient Egypt in which shape-shifting gods live side by side with awestruck mortals.

According to a laconic voiceover, the deities are easily identifiable because they are taller and have “gold running through their veins”.

Alas, there is no gold - fool’s or otherwise - running through Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless’ uneven script, which is heavy on the muscle-flexing and sibling rivalry and light on everything that matters: coherent plotting, characterisation, dramatic momentum or emotional depth.

The tone is wildly uneven, careening between bombastic computer-generated spectacle, bickering romance and mismatched buddy comedy.

Even the digital trickery can’t find its groove.

A chariot sequence is hilariously shoddy in its execution, special effects don’t gel with live action elements and director Proyas insists on choreographing every bruising fight sequence with swirling camerawork and excessive slow motion.

Clash Of The Titans and The Neverending Story are nostalgic reference points and an overblown tomb-raiding sequence nods to Indiana Jones when an acrobatic thief spies creepy crawlies on the floor and deadpans, “Where do you find that many scorpions?”

Like so many elements in Proyas’ film, they are digitally rendered and unconvincing.

Benevolent King Osiris (Bryan Brown) is poised to crown his self-doubting son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the new ruler of Egypt in front of an adoring throng, including his wife Isis (Rachael Blake) and Horus’ lover, Hathor (Elodie Yung), the goddess of love.

At the last minute, Osiris’ jealous brother Set (Gerard Butler) gate-crashes the ceremony, murders the old king and seizes the throne.

“Behold the fate of those who stand in my way!” bellows Set, who demands that gods and mortals bow before him.

Horus attempts to avenge his father, but Set is too powerful and rips out his nephew’s eyes.

Humble pickpocket Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and slave girl sweetheart Zaya (Courtney Eaton) set forth to overthrow Set by stealing back Horus’ peepers.

The plan goes tragically awry and Bek enters into a dangerous pact with Horus to complete his mission, aided by the rightful king’s grandfather, Ra (Geoffrey Rush), who shoots fiery bolts harnessed from the sun from his watchtower in the heavens.

Gods Of Egypt is a morass of oiled pecs, male posturing and tiresome showdowns between exiled heroes and otherworldly creatures.

Butler chews scenery with a roaring Scottish accent like a man who hasn’t eaten for months, while Coster-Waldau and Thwaites are bland and possess no palpable screen chemistry.

During one of their awkward verbal jousts, Thwaites questions if his hunky co-star is being funny.

“You think I put any effort into trying to amuse you?” responds Coster-Waldau

Gods Of Egypt certainly doesn’t muster any effort to entertain us.

RATING: 4/10