**** out of 5
Rated PG-13 for violence including battle sequences and intense images
20th Century Fox
Article first published as Movie Review: Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ with Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton’ on Blogcritics.
If there was ever a director to humanize a Bible story, it would be an
agnostic — so ready or not, here comes Ridley Scott’s take on Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
I’m not much for religion myself either, so I was very interested to
see how Scott would present the story of the famed Egyptian and his
mission to free his people. Delivering on a grand scale, Scott has
teamed up with four writers to give a far more realistic depiction of
ancient times and question whether Moses was in fact, following orders
from God, or simply suffering a concussion. Does he give any kind of
answer? Thankfully, he leaves a few things up to the viewer.
1300 BC, Memphis, Egypt, Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel
Edgerton) love each other as brothers. Taken in as a baby by Seti (John
Torturro), and now grown, Moses and Ramses fight side-by-side, and are
even given each other’s swords as gifts after a prophecy proclaims that
one will save the other during battle and become a great leader. During a
trip to Pithom, while meeting with Viceroy Hegep (Ben Mendelsohn), a
slave named Joshua (Aaron Paul) leads Moses to speak with Nun (Ben
Kingsley), who informs him he is Hebrew, sent by his sister Miriam (Tara
Fitzgerald) down the river, to be raised by the Pharaohs. Disbelieving
Nun’s story, he returns to Memphis to find Seti on his deathbed.
After Seti passes, Hegep shows up to inform Ramses about Moses’s true
lineage and Queen Tuya (Sigourney Weaver) has him ostracized. While
traveling through the desert, Moses winds up in Midian, where he takes a
wife in Zipporah (Maria Valverde). Nine years later, Moses is rounding
up some sheep on God’s Mountain and hits his head during a landslide.
Here, he has a vision, of a burning bush and a messenger of God in the
form of a boy named Malak (Isaac Andrews). Now, Moses must step up to
save his Hebrew people, teaching them the art of war to attack the
Egyptians prompting Malak to unleash the 10 plagues before the final
mass exodus leads them all to the Red Sea for one final showdown.
The cast helped lend a definite air of realism, with Bale showing he’s still much more than The Dark Knight.
He never lets his performance wander too far into crazy, providing
sympathy for a man who really just wants to set his enslaved people free
from tyranny. As the arrested development-challenged Ramses, Edgerton
makes the man-child more likeable than you’d think without turning him
into an outright villain. As for the supporting cast, the young Andrews
and Kingsley fare the best, with Paul proving he was cast for having a
fantastic set of crazy eyes, but poor Weaver is completely wasted and
featured in only a handful of scenes. Let alone that she never once
sports any kind of accent whatsoever.
For anyone looking for a more thoughtful and grounded presentation of Biblical lore, Exodus: Gods and Kings
is the perfect kind of film that never turns into Bible-thumping, nor
strays into any kind of sacrilege — it strikes the perfect balance. And
in a year finding fewer than normal outstanding films, Exodus may not be one of the year’s best, but it’s definitely one of the year’s better.
Photos courtesy 20th Century Fox