Exodus: Gods and Kings – Movie Review

Exodus: Gods and KingsExodus: God and Kings – PG-13
Release Date: Fri 12 Dec 2014

Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is a movie with an epic length following in the tradition of The Ten Commandments. Fortunately this is not a mere update of that film and adds several fresh elements to the storytelling but falters in providing a sense of accomplishment as the story becomes as adrift as Pharaoh’s army in the sea.

Christian Bale’s performance is fantastic and keeps the movie rooted around him. He plays Moses as a very human character; reluctant to believe in his destiny or God before becoming as good a leader as he can. He is sometimes crazed, stoic and tender and this makes him an easy character to understand and root for. The rest of the cast is largely wasted. Joel Edgerton looks good in pharaoh makeup, but is otherwise a bit of a blank slate. Aaron Paul and Ben Kingsley have little to do, and Sigourney Weaver and Noomi Rapace are essentially extended cameos.

Scott’s trademark visual flair is inconsistent here. An early battle is promising, but several views of Egypt seem so heavily CG as to feel more like a game of Civilization than a real place. The plague sequence is excellent and efficient, not only at moving through the various plagues and their effect rapidly but at showing Ramses’ advisers trying to explain the science behind what is happening. This makes the stubbornness to believe these are divine punishments a bit more understandable for the audience, with the death of the sons as the final straw to let the Hebrews go.

The section building up to and including the parting of the sea is really drawn out and much less visually interesting than even The Ten Commandments. The movie also doesn’t have a great solution for a natural and satisfying conclusion, as the Biblical account stops being exciting for quite a while after the escape and Moses does not live to see the promised land. With a nod toward the golden calf and the forging of the commandments, the movie ends with a strange flash forward which feels like they just aged Moses for a final scene before fading to black. After nearly two and a half hours, I was ready to let the film go without giving me an epilogue.

Fans of Christian Bale should definitely check this out, just be warned of the epic length of the movie if your bladder requires the comfort of a pause button.

Cal and I saw it in the theater and had a discussion in the car:

Exodus

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