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Gods of Egypt review: a laughable movie that's ridiculously watchable

Aleesha Matharu | Updated on: 26 February 2016, 23:23 IST

Goofy and comical is not what you expect when you head in for a film called Gods of Egypt.

But that's exactly what it was. To make things even funnier, the film, starring a bunch of white actors as Egyptians, arrives just days before the all-white Oscars.

Making matters worse, the actors don't really even try hard at being remotely Egyptian. Like, at all. The Danish god speaks with a clear European accent. The Scottish god speaks in a Scottish brogue, and so on.

The diversity problem had been a publicity headache for the studio, with director Alex Proyas even publicly lamenting the casting decisions (or whitewashing). He also addressed the complete lack of historical accuracy:

"It is inspired by Egyptian mythology, but it makes no attempt at historical accuracy because that would be pointless - none of the events in the movie ever really happened. It is about as reality-based as Star Wars - which is not real at all .Maybe one day if I get to make further chapters I will reveal the context of the when and where of the story. But one thing is for sure - it is not set in Ancient Egypt at all."

Well, glad we cleared that up.

The story takes place in ancient Egypt. In a paradise on the Nile, humans and gods live side by side. The gods are twice the size of man and can turn into an animal form. And wait, they bleed pure gold.

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This particular story is starts when benevolent god Osiris (Bryan Brown) decides to pass on the crown to his deserving son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), the god of the sky. But Osiris is murdered by his jealous brother Set (Gerard Butler) during the ceremony. Set also defeats Horus and rips out his eyes - his source of power. Hathor (Elodie Yung), the goddess of love, hands herself over to Set so that he spares Horus. Horus is then banished to the desert.

That's how Egypt falls into despair under Set's tyrannical rule. His bloody rule is why an unlikely hero must emerge and change the world. In this case it's Bek (Brenton Thwaites) - a young peasant who's looking for a miracle to save his intended, Zaya.

Once Bek and Osiris team up, Gods of Egypt becomes a sort of strange buddy movie, complete with a cynical mortal and a cranky god.

Will Coster-Waldau ever get to put on pants?

And while you're watching the predictable story unfold, the CGI effects make you wonder of this is a video game-turned-movie. That would make sense, you think.

But it's not. The film obviously doesn't feel the need to be plausible at all (maybe that's the charm?) and kind of leaves you stranded in this uncomfortable middle ground where you're constantly debating if it's racist or if it's okay to just sit back and enjoy the insane imagery.

But it's all very watchable, reminding you of all the times you sat back to watch Beastmaster and Xena: The Warrior Princess.

Before I forget, Geoffrey Rush also shows up occasionally as a bald, robed Ra who's prone to bursting into CGI fire and screaming "ENOUGH BEAST!" at giant space worms.

Acting wise, there's a lot of overacting and a lot of Australians considering this was shot Down Under. Both Coster-Waldau and Butler rehash their best-known roles - both characters could have easily been pulled from 300 and Game of Thrones.

The verdict

This is definitely not even in the so-bad-it's-good territory, but with just a tiny extra push into the ridiculous, this 127-minute slog could have been made into a caustic 90-minute satire.

RATING: 2.5 out of 5

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First published: 26 February 2016, 23:23 IST
Aleesha Matharu @almatharu

Born in Bihar, raised in Delhi and schooled in Dehradun, Aleesha writes on a range of subjects and worked at The Indian Express before joining Catch as a sub-editor. When not at work you can find her glued to the TV, trying to clear a backlog of shows, or reading her Kindle. Raised on a diet of rock 'n' roll, she's hit occasionally by wanderlust. After an eight-year stint at Welham Girls' School, Delhi University turned out to be an exercise in youthful rebellion before she finally trudged her way to J-school and got the best all-round student award. Now she takes each day as it comes, but isn't an eternal optimist.