By John Campbell
It should be the easiest of assignments to make an action/drama movie about the brilliant civilisation of ancient Egypt. Its history, which is hardly dull, has been pored over by scholars for a century or more. Remember, too, what a terrific job Mel Gibson did on Apocalypto (2006) by sticking closely to the known facts of pre-Colombian Mayan culture. Alex Proyas, however, has opted for the CGI super-hero genre and come up with a dog’s breakfast that will take a lot of beating for Joe Cocker of the Year.
Things get off to a risible start when Bryan Brown, with a pubic rug on his chin, appears as the benevolent Osiris. He is about to anoint his good son Horus (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) as king when his bad son Set (Gerard Butler – reprising his macho Spartan mindset from 300 arrives to rain on their parade. Set kills his old man, as well as the beautiful Zaya (Courtney Eaton), a scantily clad commoner who is in love with Bek (Brenton Thwaites), the Jesse Eisenberg of the Two Lands. From then on it’s one calamity after the other as the evil Set does a lot of dastardly stuff in order to become immortal and invincible.
A noticeable variation on a theme is provided by the gold that runs in the gods’ veins – when they slash into each other it is yellow that oozes out, not your usual tomato sauce and, to be honest, it’s a big letdown if you want to find some consolation in a mindless gore-fest. Of passing interest to Aussie viewers (the fiasco was shot at Sydney’s Fox Studios) is the number of local actors who get a start – Geoffrey Rush looks more than comfortable with his casting as Ra, the grande fromage, but less so with a flaming spear in his hand, while Bruce Spence gets a day off from writing letters to the SMH as he condemns poor old Robyn Nevin to a fiery oblivion – which surely is this movie’s ultimate destination.