Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings

In Theatres: 
Dec 12, 2014
Running Time: 
150 minutes

There have been many variations of the story of Moses and the mass exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, but that hasn’t stopped Hollywood from producing another epic out of the famous biblical narrative. And what better director to do it than Ridley Scott, the same filmmaker who gave us the amazing Alien, Blade Runner, and Gladiator. Exodus: Gods and Kings gives us a grandiose version of the prophet, but that’s about it. There’s nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s bigger, but unfortunately not better.

Moses (Christian Bale) is the adopted son of the great Pharaoh of Egypt and while the favorite of the leader, he will never inherit the throne. That title belongs to Rameses (Joel Edgerton) who is more ruthless and superstitious. Moses, on the other hand, is more critical. After the Pharaoh Seti I passes away and Rameses succeeds the throne, he finds out that Moses is not the adopted brother he thought he was, but actually the son of Hebrew slaves. With this newfound identity, Moses is chosen by God to lead his people out of the shackles of the new Pharaoh to freedom.

Most people are familiar with the story of Moses, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, and the 10 Commandments. They are the tentpoles in every interpretation. Ridley Scott is no exception. He brings an epicness to the story, but it feels hackneyed and tired. Even worse is that Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments did it better. Even the animated The Prince of Egypt is more entertaining. Exodus: Gods and Kings has such a large scope that it becomes difficult to find one thing that’s even remotely interesting.

The film wants to be this epic and action-oriented retelling of the bible story, much like Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, but ends up being dull and boring. Besides one quick battle towards the beginning, the majority of the film is Moses facing an identity crisis. He’s depicted as some crazy and idiotic homeless man who talks to God. Christian Bale is just going through the motions from one scene to another. He finds out he’s Hebrew. He finds God. He sends the ten plagues to get Pharaoh to free his people. He parts the Red Sea. He receives the 10 Commandments. Roll credits. There’s no substance.

One of the few redeeming factors, however, is the film’s portrayal of God, who takes the form of a little kid. Despite his childlike appearance, God is a fearful and vengeful being, essentially saying that waiting 400 years has been long enough and now it’s time to rain destruction down upon the Egyptians. It’s far from the remorseful God we’ve seen in the past who only seemed to view violence and destruction as a latch ditch effort rather than take pleasure in revenge.

Unfortunately God is about the only standout character of the film. Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton take up the majority of screen time, while the supporting cast is grossly unused. Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, and John Turturro barely make any appearances and when they do they’re always playing second fiddle to either Bale or Edgerton. It’s a shame because of all that wasted talent.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is plagued by a number of problems, from dull set pieces to an underutilized cast, that brings nothing new to the table when telling the story of Moses. It’s an epic film that epically fails to deliver on all fronts.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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