This film could have been titled “There Will Be Beef.”
They don't make movies like "Gods of Egypt" anymore, and yet they never made movies like "Gods of Egypt." This is the paradox, and for a while, it's a fun one. But after a point, this proudly silly film about gods and mortals in ancient Egypt devolves into an sword-and-sorcery-flavored riff on a weak Marvel movie. The alternately cornball and self-aware dialogue and the clearly not state-of-the-art CGI would seeming charmingly retro (like something from a TV miniseries two decades ago) if the movie didn't trot out one epic action film cliche after another.
Gerard Butler stars as Set, god of disorder. He wrests control of his kingdom from his brother, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) in an opening hand-to-hand combat sequence where the siblings clang swords and beat on each other for a while, until they both assume the form of armored creatures that look like Marvel-movie android warriors and leap through the air, knocking each other against pillars until Set finally tears Horus's eyes out. (Why the combatants don't assume super-powerful form to start with is one of those questions that films like this never answer.)
At first, Set wants to kill Horus outright, but relents when the goddess Hathor (Elodie Yung) begs him to be merciful. Set banishes the blind Horus to a crypt where he's eventually set free by the intrepid mortal Bek (Brenton Thwaites), a resourceful thief whose beautiful young lover, Zaya (Courtney Eaton of "Mad Max: Fury Road"), died from an arrow wound and is now trekking through the underworld en route to her final judgment. According to lore, only the king of Egypt can free a dead person from the between-state and return them to the land of the living. That means Horus has only a few days to wrest control of the kingdom from Set. If he doesn't, Bek's girlfriend will stay dead forever.
That's a pretty good setup for an action-adventure: a coup on a timetable. The director, Alex Proyas ("The Crow," "Dark City"), seems sure of what sort of film he wants to make. Despite the ostentatiously virtual images and the comic book and borderline science-fiction touches, in its heart "Gods of Egypt" is an adventure in what used to be called the "swords and sandals" genre. Every brawny chest is waxed, every bosom heaving. The characters address
crowds of thousands of (digital, alas) extras, and run their enemies
through with swords and spears and zap them with death rays (hey, some
of them are gods, okay?), and swear fealty to this and vengeance against
that, and tromp around in metal tunics while saying things like, "Why
was I made to walk on burning sands while my brother strolled barefoot
alone on the shores of the Nile?" and "Give me my eyes!" and "Were you
using my house for your fornicating?"