Exodus: Gods and Kings – 2.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

exodusExodus: Gods and Kings – 2.5/5 – Biblical Stories are usually one of two things (when portrayed on the big screen):

Extravagant spectacles of deep stories

Over-the-top saturation that drown out the story

No matter how the story is told, the vision of the director always exudes how he/she wants to tell the story.  This retelling of Moses and the Ten Commandments is something that most people know.  With that knowledge, Ridley Scott uses his own ‘vision’ to create something that’s ‘over-the-top’, but filled with a lot of lack thereof with everything else.  Exodus: Gods and Kings is a film that is full of spectacle, but pacing and lack of character development causes this to become just another ‘fantasy epic’ tale.

Premise:  A retelling of the tale of Moses and the Ten Commandments

The acting in this movie is a ‘whose who’ of casting calls.  There are a lot of big names in some of the prominent roles:

Christian Bale as Moses

Joel Edgerton as Ramses

John Turturro as Seti

Aaron Paul as Joshua

Sigorney Weaver as Tuya

Ben Kingsley as Nun

There are a few others but these are the most prominent roles.  Within this group of people, Christian Bale is a stand out with his portrayal of Moses.  It seems that no matter what film it is (The Machinist, Dark Knight Trilogy, The Fighter, and American Hustle) Bale gives you a tour de force kind of performance every time.  No matter if its scenes between him and Ramses, his initial interactions with a high power or his commandment as the leader of his people, he exudes confidence.  The humanizing of such a big character helps provider a sense of struggle within.  That struggle of finding your ‘true’ self helps you feel a part of the conflicts he comes across.  Bale provides a man of many layers, one that has conflict in what is right, especially when it comes to dire consequences.  He acts upon emotions, but also combines all the wit of someone full of faith.  The complexity is riveting, combine to make an outstanding but grounded allure for his character in the film.  For the rest of the cast, this is probably by far some of the worst acting I have seen in supporting roles.  With the names mentioned above, you would think that they could ‘power’ through the fact they aren’t reflections of the real ‘social’ aspects of where the film takes place.  With ignore those facts; their acting alone is mind numbing to see on the big screen.  The line delivery is atrocious (not to forget the fact the lines are terribly written) and there archetypes creates figures that feel wooden and unrealistic.   The lack of humanistic appeal makes the characters feel cartoonish.  The only real supporting roles that have real heart is the ‘god’ characterization on screen and Moses’ family (wife and son).  The emotions are strong in these interactions, but that is about it.

The direction of this film is inconsistent throughout all three acts.  On the ‘overall’ tone of this film, it comes across as a very ‘action-epic’ kind of film.  That tone drowns out the biblical nature of the story, causing you to see a lack of real depth.  I’ll break the film down within each act:

First Act:  You get the basic introduction to Moses and Ramses; tale of two brothers.  There is the brotherhood development along with the ‘revelation’ of the prophecy from the Jews.  After this generic prologue, we get the cheesy ‘act of defiance’ used to ‘connect the dots’ of the overall situation.  This leads to the separation of the brothers.  There is a definite lack of development, with all focus on pacing quickly through each scene.

Second Act: When Moses goes into exile, we start to see a ‘sense’ to try to have some raw human nature at work.  Within this, there is strong characterization of Moses; where you get a sense of his ideals on faith, humanity and morality vs. consequences.  The one weakness here (as with the first act) is pacing.  The slow draw on Moses, his purpose and return back to Egypt is followed by a fast pace directive of a ‘vengeful’ god through the use of plagues on the Egyptians.  This unhinges the themes and characterization, relying way too much on spectacle instead of the allure of the story.

Third Act: With the ultimate plague and the inevitable ‘parting of the sea’ scene, it all leads to an ultimate confrontation that is ironically witless and lacks emotion.  There are also a lot of time lapses between both ‘parties’, along with an epilogue that doesn’t derive real meaning.  Yet again, this act has a lot of uneven pacing issues that leads to all of its problems mentioned.

The truth of the matter is that the ‘action’ and ‘visual spectacle’ is what draws you into the film.  With the lack of any character development, the reliance is on this specific nature of filming.  That works for only a small portion of the film (Plagues).  No matter if most people know this story; the lack of draw causes it to feel emotionless, unappealing and at times offensive because of the lack of trying to creating something moving.

The visuals of this film are bombastic.  There is a sense of trying to create something luscious through the riveting spectacle.  The aura of the ‘world’ makes you feel the era, even with the lacking of progression, story and characters.  The creations of Memphis, the plagues, and other subtle uses within the action scenes are pretty amazing in its generalities.  What keeps the visuals from being complimentary is it is just as hollow as the story’s nature.   The nature of ‘spectacle as raw appeal’ tries to fool the audience into accepting a lack of story, but doesn’t work because of the obviousness of what is being done.  The score is pretty intense at parts, but nothing to scream good about.

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a film that could have been great or even good, but with a lot of uneven pacing, lack of real story depth and characters (outside of Moses and a few others) and the foolery of visuals, this film doesn’t get a passing grade.  If you’re a fan of Ridley Scott, you can take a chance.  In the long run, it isn’t worth the full price, and maybe not a matinee.

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