A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Gods of Egypt is an epic action fantasy with lots of violence (chiefly via sword and hand-to-hand battle), though most of it isn't too gory (even decapitations and mutilations are shot in such a way that they aren't particularly graphic). Strong language is limited to very sparse uses of "ass" and "s--t," but there's a fair bit of suggestive material, including sexual innuendo, implied nudity/sexual relationships, and one scene that shows the before and after of sex but not the act itself (bare backs and the side of a breast are shown). The gods enjoy drinking, and a couple of characters act drunk and/or hung over at different times. The ancient-Egypt-set film stirred such a social media controversy over its predominantly white cast (lacking any discernable Egyptian or Middle Eastern actors) that the director publicly apologized for not making the ensemble more diverse.
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What's the story?
Set in ancient Egypt, GODS OF EGYPT begins on the day that Osiris (Bryan Brown) is about to crown his son, Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), Lord of the Air, the next king. At the coronation ceremony, Osiris' bitter, jealous brother, Set (Gerard Butler), arrives to kill Osiris, defeat and exile Horus (by taking his all-seeing eyes), and take the throne for himself. Meanwhile, a mortal couple -- young thief Bek (Brenton Thwaites) and his devout love, Zaya (Courtney Eaton) -- mess with the gods by conspiring to steal Horus' eyes from Set's vault. Although Bek successfully retrieves one eye, Zaya's employer, Urshu (Rufus Sewell), Set's royal architect, kills her for her treason. Grief-stricken Bek takes Zaya's body to Horus, where he strikes a bargain: Horus' eye for a promise to revive Zaya. Together the mortal and the god embark on an unlikely journey to defeat the maniacal Set before he destroys all of creation.
Is it any good?
Starring a white-washed cast phoning in their performances, this cheesy, unimpressive action fantasy is so bad it's only good for watching as a guilty pleasure once it's on television. Director Alex Proyas publicly apologized for not making more diverse casting decisions, but he might as well have apologized for the film itself. Butler's Set is an uninteresting, ruthless Big Bad Villain with no nuance; by now audiences must wonder whether the actor is capable of anything but these terrible swords-and-sandals adventures. And although Game of Thrones star Coster-Waldau is obviously quite comfortable holding a sword and dealing with missing body parts, he looks as bored as the audience.
Bek and Zaya are the only likable characters; meanwhile, poor Chadwick Boseman will have to rely on the goodwill of his portrayals in 42 and Get On Up to erase the memory of his terribly affected God of Wisdom, Thoth. Overlong and featuring bland effects, Gods of Egypt is the kind of film that feels twice as long as its runtime and will cause many moviegoers to constantly look at their watches in hopes that the climactic battle between Horus and Set will come soon so the credits will roll.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why movies set in ancient civilizations are popular. How does Gods of Egypt compare to other films about ancient mythologies?
Do you think filmmakers have a responsibility to make casting decisions based on the heritage of the source material? Why is diversity in filmmaking important?
- In theaters: February 26, 2016
- On DVD or streaming: May 31, 2016
- Cast: Gerard Butler, Rufus Sewell, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau
- Director: Alex Proyas
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: fantasy violence and action, and some sexuality
- Last updated: November 30, 2020
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