Exodus: Gods and Kings Review

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By: Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)



There are stories in the world that the majority of people know or know of. Whether they’re stories from one’s youth such as The Three Little Pigs or Little Red Riding Hood, more modern stories like The Hunger Games or Harry Potter, or older stories like Moby Dick, people know of them to some extent. Then there are the stories of The Bible. People know the story of Adam and Eve, of Jesus, of David and Goliath, and the story of Moses. Ridley Scott brings his latest telling of the story of Moses to the big screen in Exodus: Gods and Kings.

Moses (Christian Bale) has been raised by the Pharaoh of Egypt, Seti (John Turturro), along with Seti’s son, Ramses (Joel Edgerton). Seti favors Moses over Ramses and secretly wishes Moses could take the throne after his death, but only the true blood line can succeed. After putting down a revolt, Moses is approached by Nun (Ben Kingsley) and told that he is really Hebrew, like the slaves who work for the pharaoh. Once Moses realizes the truth of this statement, as does Ramses, Moses is cast out of Egypt. He begins a life of his own, with the Israelites who wish to return to Canaan, but returns to Egypt to see the horrors of the slaves after a visit from a messenger of God. Moses takes it upon himself to free the slaves and lead them to freedom, with the help of God, but how will family and the once brotherhood between Moses and Ramses play out?

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Exodus: Gods and Kings isn’t a story that is new to anyone. If you know anything about The Bible or have heard about Moses, you know how the story plays out. The ten plagues attack Egypt and Ramses, and Moses is able to get Israelites out of Egypt by parting the Red Sea and crossing it while the waters swallow up Ramses’ army. What makes this telling of the story different is that Ridley Scott is directing. Scott is known for his big battle scenes and use of special effects that can be seen in such films such as Alien, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Robin Hood, and Prometheus. So this isn’t going to be your Sunday school telling of the Moses story. The big thing here is the use of special effects. It really feels like nearly most of the film is set to a green screen and everything else was added later. And not to say the effects are bad, but they are way overboard, to the extent that there are tornadoes in the Red Sea as Moses and the Israelites escape and Ramses pursues. Scott is definitely a “go big or go home” type of director, but with Bible stories, maybe less is more?

Now a lot has been made of there being an “all-white cast” in this film. Should that make a difference if the performances are good? And was anyone alive in 1380 BC to give us a definitive answer to the shade of skin color found on the various people in The Bible? Probably not. That being said, the film really follows Christian Bale as Moses, as he goes from a non-believer to a believer, as his priorities change in life, and he learns more about himself and what it means to live. Bale takes us along on this personal journey with his wonderful performance. Joel Edgerton turns in a fine display as Ramses as well, giving us a take on a man who does not appear to be too sure of himself as a person nor as a ruler. He is thrust into a role that he is unprepared for and tries to exceed his father on a superficial level instead of one of prosperity and success. The other actors are more of role players, each doing what is necessary to further move the story along. Nothing particular of note among these actors as, again, this story revolves around Bale and Edgerton.

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While Bale and Edgerton have solid performances, the films running time of over two and a half hours will have you looking at your phone (or watch if you still own one of those). Many sequences tend to drag out and you wonder if anything was left on the cutting room floor once all was said and done. It almost felt like 10 minutes were dedicated to each of the 10 plagues in themselves. Also, the ending of the film felt like more of a throwaway as there really wasn’t any area to leave the story on a high note or something memorable, seeing as how the story of The Bible continues on while our film, thankfully, had to end somewhere. There are some nice special effects sequences and the battle scenes are entertaining enough, but Exodus: Gods and Kings lacks substance for how long the film is drawn out.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars


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