Soap opera melodrama and visual effects wizardry combine in a mythical Egyptian fantasy adventure - and it's an uncomfortable mix.

Gerard Butler has experience with ancient myths, making a name for himself as Spartan King Leonidas in fantasy action film 300. Here he's the Egyptian god Set, the powerful megalomaniac god of the desert who steals Egypt from his nephew Horus (Coster-Waldau).

Set steals Horus' crown on his coronation day, rips out his eyes, the source of his power, and exiles him. Peaceful Egypt descends into chaos as Set enslaves all mortals to build a phallic monument to the creator of all things, Ra (Geoffrey Rush), and kills all the gods who defy him.

In an attempt to get his life back, a plucky teenage thief called Bek (Thwaites) comes up with a plan to steal Horus' eyes from Set's treasury in the hope Horus will rise up against his evil uncle. In order to fulfill his plan, Bek hops, skips and jumps through a series of booby-trapped bridges like a young Indiana Jones, and after completing his mission, slips into the role of Horus' sidekick.

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Egyptian historical pop culture gets a good going-over, there are pyramids and sphinxes, curvaceous women half-dressed in beaded robes, gods who transform into metallic flying beasts as they battle in the sky, and a trip to the underworld. Horus and Bek even venture into space, where Ra keeps Apophis, the god of darkness, at bay each night.

However, no amount of testosterone or Lord of the Rings-style trickery (making the humans hobbit-sized in comparison to the gods) can make us believe Butler and co are anywhere but on a movie set.

No matter how grand the cityscapes and monuments, or how luxuriant the palatial rooms with excessive billowing curtains, the actors look silly, superimposed as they are into a cheesy hyper-fantasy.

Butler is more than comfortable as Set, while a buffed Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is less convincing, although it's hard to pick if that's because of a hesitancy to throw himself into the role or a misguided interpretation of a meek character.

The humorous throwaway lines don't work as well as in, say, Marvel's Thor franchise, the frenetic fight scenes are repetitive, and the love scenes corny. But at least Gods of Egypt doesn't take itself too seriously.


Cast: Gerard Butler, Brenton Thwaites, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
Director: Alex Proyas
Running Time: 127 mins Rating: M (Violence)
Verdict: Aims for ridiculous, camp and fun - but misses.