- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Gutted by critics, director Alex Proyas‘ $140 million swords and sandals fantasy film passes to the afterlife of the Blu-ray realm, hoping for the home theater deities to embrace his extravagant vision.

Although, a financial resurrection is yet to be determined on Gods of Egypt (Lionsgate Home Entertainment, Rated PG-13, $35.99, 126 minutes), Mr. Proyas and his digital craftsman have assembled enough popcorn-munching moments to satisfy, as long as viewers check their brains at the door.

This story of crushing betrayal finds the god Set returning from the desert and killing his brother, the king of Egypt Osiris, who is about to bestow the crown to his son Horus. Horus fights back but not only loses the battle and crown but even his eyes to add insult.

With Set in control of the kingdom and now on a rampage to eradicate his fellow gods and control the afterlife, Horus teams up with an Aladdin-like thief, a human named Bek, to reclaim his peepers and the throne.

In this version of ancient Egypt, the gods live right alongside the mortals, towering over them in a fairly jarring visual to viewers and spend plenty of time battling giant monsters, dodging crumbling ancient ruins and bleeding gold during every fisticuff.

An ensemble cast includes: Gerard Butler (“300”) as the evil Set; Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (“Game of Thrones”) as Horus; Chadwick Boseman as the god of wisdom Thoth; Élodie Yung as the goddess of love Hathor; Brenton Thwaites (“Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales “) as the mortal Bek; and the galaxy-munching exploits of Geoffrey Rush as grandpa Ra.

Ra hangs above the planet on a cool spaceship while battling on a daily basis the world-devouring monster Apophis.

The movie infuses that latest computer-driven, special-effect technologies and practical stunts to mix intense close-quarter combat and mythic creature interactions that certainly pay an homage to such B movie fodder as “Clash of the Titans” (the 1981 version) and “Jason and the Argonauts.”

All is revealed in stunning digital transfer, delivering sweeping views of ancient Egypt and all of its ornate beauty and lush surroundings nearly every scene.

Viewers will appreciate the massive crowd scenes of Cecil B. Demille variety, a dazzling free-fall of our heroes down a waterfall, Hathor passing through the Underworld to meet Anubis, fire-breathing cobra lizards, a living sphinx made of sand and massive flying scarabs harnessed to Set’s chariot.

Horus turning into a golden falcon humanoid and Set’s transformation into an armored Jackal also stand out.

However, the top visual effects for me was Horus battling a band of armed minotaurs atop a cliff looking plucked from stop-motion effects maestro Ray Harryhausen’s playbook.

The extras are as bloated as the main event, but worth a look.

Specifically, six featurettes totaling over an hour covering interviews with most of the stars and key production personnel (sans Mr. Proyas) as they cover costumes, make-up, casting choices, locations, design and fight choreography.

Best of the bunch offers roughly an 11-minute look at the effects-heavy action scenes. It features Visual Effects Supervisor Eric Durst explaining in detail the numerous companies involved with bringing the epic to life.

He also explains some of the magic behind the sphinx and the most complex scene of the film, two massive cobras hunting Horus and Bek around a burial shrine.

“Gods of Egypt” may not have tickled the critics or been a box office smash, but those beautifully created action scenes are certainly worth appreciating in a home entertainment setting.

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