Feeble gods

Gods of Egypt was created and released. For this, we must be thankful. This Alex Proyas-directed mess is a cinematic slum of rotting, rarely successful visual effects, dressing the feature to a gaudy degree. The lessons it can teach us are many.

For years, this limp and overbearing film will serve as a metaphor for what happens with the lack of limitations in contemporary visual effects. Pinging the fantastic worlds of Ray Harryhausen, Gods of Egypt lacks the animator’s modesty. Actors plant themselves in front of green/blue screens and imprecise backgrounds are layered in behind them. Maybe a CG monster or two shows up. Shrill dialog and turgid romance spins a fantasy which, even in capable hands, would have crumbled.

Although dueling gods of ancient mythology highlight this non-spectacle, story points amass into an anti-capitalist rhetoric which bleeds into the afterlife. Gerard Butler’s Set takes over the lands of Egypt, instilling a new belief that one must, “buy your way in with riches earned.” His rise to power produces an aimless one-percenter political allegory in a fictitious historical saga, undone when a poor, thieving mortal becomes determined – for love.

… all coherency is discarded for the sake of falling buildings or explosions.

Beckoning for controversy, Gods of Egypt enlists a near all-white cast and not a single Egyptian. Such sour publicity didn’t help the box office. Neither did the failed association to Clash of the Titans (from which Gods of Egypt borrows a title font). Besides, marketing was forced to rely on their choice of dismal action scenes, which veer into the unintentionally hilarious, e.g., Geoffrey Rush (engulfed by flames) slinging fireballs at a planet-eating space worm. Images are overdrawn, lack restraint, and run out of power in the opening act.

In the center is romance, threading through mortal and god realms. Brenton Thwaites deserves better as the insufferable lead without a gram of establishing backstory. His romantic interest (Courtney Eaton) can do little other than die, pine for her man, and hope for his rescue from her death.

Thwaites only character is to spout out-of-place blockbuster one liners (as does everyone else) while Gods of Egypt tries anything to be attractive. Shameful PG-13 titillation dots the masculine-driven tale, the men towering over all in an awkward, poorly established scale meant to make the gods seem 10 feet tall. When they fight, the nauseating camera swirls around their now CG-inundated forms, and all coherency is discarded for the sake of falling buildings or explosions. Gods of Egypt’s grand example of “more money than sense” filmmaking stands as a stout lesson for the future, but since so few have seen it (or will), only a handful will learn.

Gods of Egypt Blu-ray screen shot 10


Dressed primarily in warm oranges, reds, and even pinks, the color palette sops up much of the contrast. While exterior sunlight will often leave strong highlights, most of the digitally-made feature dries up from the lack of heft. Black levels offer limited reprieve, themselves dropping to a blue-ish tint by the third act, further eroding Gods of Egypt’s limited weight.

While the encode appears capable, a late sandstorm crushes the compression. Banding becomes so severe, it’s a wonder what could be a fault of the disc and what is a remnant of the effects. Those visual effects play a key role throughout. Compositing dulls sharpness to match foreground and artificial background, reducing fine detail which was already at a premium. The female cast appears digitally smoothed too.

Impressive moments are only a handful. At the peak – a giant snake attack in exterior light – Gods of Egypt nearly shows signs of life. This matches the digital exteriors of Egypt which deliver the necessary definition. Early shots of large crowds are sharp, and some of the overdone costuming relishes those minor details. Resolution can be firm enough to extract small jewels and intricate metal works. Facial definition then suffers, leaving the movie visually handicapped considering its (supposed) blockbuster pedigree.

Into 3D, the conversion process feels inherently rushed. When Horus is first granted his king’s armor, his cardboard frame shows little separation. All of the little trinkets feel flat and depth from the extended chest piece doesn’t exist. There are a handful of erroneous shots. A brief moment of a woman in panic botches the depth map, leaving the background feeling like foreground. It’s quick. Some aliasing is introduced in 3D too.

Success can be derived from single point perspective shots – looking down streets, into forests, etc. While the effect isn’t natural, at least there’s depth. Highlights are entirely taken from the air, including a stunning brawl near a waterfall which accentuates height with limited gimmickry. This is the only sequence where 3D feels fully considered, with foreground rocks and rushing water meeting the river below. Gods of Egypt never connects with 3D and appears converted for the sake of box office alone.


DTS-X/DTS-HD audio rarely rises above middling. Going back to the snake sequence mentioned above, they breathe fire which delivers a strong low-end blast, if not to the boldness of better audio mixes. Major action doesn’t hit particularly hard, lacking the needed extension. Destruction loses its weight and with it goes the attempt at scale.

Positional use captures some scurrying scorpions and jungle ambiance. Those extra surrounds fill the soundstage with panicked citizens during an early scene. Otherwise, the added rears do little to extend the space. For as action-heavy as this movie likes to be, the audio focus meanders scene-to-scene. Spacing in the stereos may exceed that of the rears.


An hours worth of six featurettes clog up the disc, although a few of them have their moments. Without the aid of green screen, Shooting in Australia shows an actual movie being filmed in an actual place. Another on costumes and make-up has some insight, despite how limited practical work was. Separate features on the stunts and cast are routine, as is a Divine Vision which is EPK fluff. Some deleted scenes can be explored in storyboard film if you choose.

  • Movie
  • 2D Video
  • 3D Video
  • Audio
  • Extras


Even if ignoring the casting controversy, Gods of Egypt’s mass of limiting visual effects only covers a pathetic tale of romance and wealth.

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Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.

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