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‘Gods of Egypt’ review: A lively, yet campy fantasy

Gerard Butler as Set in

Gerard Butler as Set in "Gods of Egypt," a derivative but amiable movie whose only goal is to entertain. Credit: Lionsgate

PLOT In ancient Egypt, a god and a mortal team up to defeat a power-hungry tyrant.

CAST Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Elodie Yung.

RATED PG-13 (Action-violence, gruesome imagery, some sexuality)

LENGTH 2:07

BOTTOM LINE A clunky fantasy flick enlivened by some unintentional camp.

The gods are literally larger than life in “Gods of Egypt,” a subpar action-fantasy that nevertheless deserves credit for attempting a risky visual trick. Most of the actors play towering figures nine feet tall, but they often interact with regular-size people. The result, when the bigger guys share space with the littler guys, is an oddly skewed perspective that resembles a funhouse optical illusion. Put on your 3-D glasses, and you’ve got one weird moviegoing experience.

“Gods of Egypt” might have fared better without this gimmick, though only by a little. For the most part, it’s a derivative but amiable movie whose only goal is to entertain. If it didn’t make you constantly wonder whether some actors are standing closer to the camera than others, “Gods of Egypt” might pass muster as an occasionally lively and frequently campy B movie.

The lively part comes from Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (HBO’s “Game of Thrones”) as the god Horus, a Prince Hal figure soon to be king of Egypt. His debauched lifestyle includes wild orgies and a harem of mortal women. (Here again, the size difference raises distracting questions.) Coster-Waldau makes an appealing rogue, and his pirate-style eye-patch is an amusingly loopy touch.

The campy part begins when Gerard Butler enters as Set, an Egyptian god with a noticeable Scottish burr. Butler excels at roles like this, all muscle and bluster, and he doesn’t hold back here as a jealous son craving his father’s empire and approval. Who’s his father? Glad you asked, because it’s Geoffrey Rush, as the sun god Ra, mugging shamelessly while his head is in flames. Anthony Hopkins gave the father-figure in “Thor” a bit of Shakespearean class, but Rush goes for silent-era hysteria. It’s an admirably gonzo performance.

Less fun are Brenton Thwaites (“Maleficent”) as the mortal Bek, who joins Horus in a quest to conquer Set, and Courtney Eaton as his true love, Zaya. They’re serviceable but not terribly convincing — a bit like the miniature sets and green-screen action-scenes that give this movie an oddly dated look.

Energetically directed by Alex Proyas (“The Crow”) but clumsily written by Matt Sazama and Burk Sharpless (“The Last Witch Hunter,” a rather better movie), “Gods Of Egypt” wavers between unintentional hoot and mere mediocrity. Or maybe that’s a matter of perspective.

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