Any review of Gods of Egypt should begin by noting two unrelated facts about the film. The first, as has been widely discussed, is that it dramatizes the ancient Egyptian myth of Osiris but features a starring cast of mostly white actors, a move that doomed it to criticism and mockery months before its release, and rightly so. The second is that in the film, directed by the agreeably bonkers Alex Proyas, the god Set (Gerard Butler) rides a chariot pulled by giant green flying beetles, making the case that the movie is more than aware of its own absurdity.
It’s hard to fathom which Hollywood executive decided that mining Egyptian mythology would produce a box-office bonanza, but the film’s $140 million budget seems a clear indicator of faith that it would. As could only be expected, Proyas—the director of spectacles like The Crow, Dark City, and I, Robot—has harnessed that cash for a mad CGI circus. While the film is far too long (127 minutes) and far too silly to actually qualify as good, viewers willing to accept the story’s inherent stupidity might find some fun in the mayhem. After all, where else could you see Geoffrey Rush, playing the almighty Ra, grow to 50 feet and drag the sun to the other side of a flat earth while shooting solar beams at an advancing chaos serpent bent on consuming him? That alone may not be worth the price of admission, but Gods of Egypt seeks to justify itself by aiming for that kind of theatricality every five minutes.