Vibrant visuals shroud a hollow, tiresome story

This image released by Lionsgate shows Gerard Butler portraying Set in a scene from "Gods of Egypt." (Lionsgate via AP)

Destiny and determination collide in director Alex Proyas’ “Gods of Egypt,” a bloated venture determined to meet a disappointing fate. Gerard Butler features as Set, the villainous god of the desert who overthrows Egypt to steal powers from the other Egyptian gods.

Timothy Hogg

Timothy Hogg

Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) is a young god eager to rule Egypt until his uncle, Set (Butler), interrupts the ceremony by murdering the current king and stealing his nephew’s eyes. Robbed of his power, Horus falls into seclusion until an adventurous Egyptian mortal, Bek (Brenton Thwaites), steals one of the eyes back and returns it to Horus. Now, Horus and Bek form an unlikely team, traversing the deserts, swamps, and mountains in a quest to save Egypt from destruction.

As beautiful as “Gods of Egypt” is in regard to visuals, sets, and props, it’s a shame that the rest of the film isn’t held to the same standard. From the opening shots of Egypt, depicted as a bustling, thriving powerhouse, the film is absolutely dazzling; the Egyptian dynasty is vibrant and alive with color that pops to catch the viewer’s eye. Combined with detailed props and sets, it’s apparent that a lot of labor went into the world’s design.

However, this remains the only positive element. While the film is pretty, once the main characters show up and the story tries to conjure any semblance of a plot, the spectacle sinks like a stone in the Nile. Watching a bad film can sometimes be enjoyable; at the very least, one can hope the film will improve, or a few shining gems will emerge from the murk.

It is another thing to leave an audience praying for the end, hoping the next thing they see is the closing credits. In a way, it’s astonishing; focusing on the characters, on the merit of their performances and action, one can see that they were trying. But the characters are written in such a way that the audience just does not care about them. Who was that? Who just died? Wait, am I supposed to be sad? The film moves too fast, forgetting to properly show what is happening until it is forced to stop and drop a hefty lump of exposition.

To make matters worse, the story’s lack of direction bloats the film, making much of its plot unnecessary. The characters often make illogical or selfish choices, and they inevitably fail at what they are trying to do. This would be forgivable if the filmmakers did not constantly provide free passes for these mistakes; the characters spend half an hour trying to find an item crucial to the plot, only to lose it and then realize they already had what they needed the entire time. It’s lazy writing meant to pad out useless filler, and leaves the audience feeling cheated.

“Gods of Egypt” from director Alex Proyas is a pretty coat of cinematic paint shrouding a despicable, rotten mess of a plot. With intolerable characters and a moronic narrative, audiences may try to stomach the film on visuals alone, but the entire experience is sure to leave even those who enjoy bad movies with a sour taste.

My grade: 3 out of 10 stars.

(Timothy Hogg is a copy editor for The Derrick./The News-Herald. He has a minor in film and media studies from Slippery Rock University. Readers may contact him by email at