2014, the year of the Biblical epics. First we had Noah which was met with mixed reviews and much controversy and I think a similar thing may occur with Exodus: Gods and Kings. However, for me Moses easily trumps Noah in this battle of the Old Testament heavyweights.
I really did enjoy this movie, although that isn’t to say that it was without flaws. The cast for this film while impressive, seemed muddled. There was a wide range of actors in this movie, some veterans and some relative newcomers to the screen. This was a bit of a distraction for me and I don’t think that the cast when on screen together created a convincing story, not due to acting but simply the collection of actors. It was hard to take Transformers John Turturro seriously and Aaron Paul just didn’t seem at home in the slightest here. Also if you have Sigourney Weaver in a film the least you can do is give her something to do, I was excited for this as it seemed to be her first role of substance for some time but she may as well not have been in the movie. The film whilst portrayed as the story of Moses really wasn’t, it takes a quite general look at this period of history and I haven’t quite decided whether or not this is a good thing. If there was one character in the spotlight most it would actually be Rhamses (Joel Edgerton). Edgerton plays this character wonderfully and strangely you end up feeling more sympathetic for his character opposed to Moses. I began to wonder if Ridley Scott did this deliberately as he uses very subtle ways that combine together to make the viewer reach this point of sympathy. It was almost the Egypt story from his point of view which was interesting to say the least. To compliment this I wasn’t sure that the character of Moses was right, this isn’t a criticism of Christian Bale although this won’t be a role he will be remembered for, he just didn’t seem consistent and a lack of focus on the character didn’t help either.
The film did suffer from a lack of emotional engagement and I think this was due to that lack of focus, there were moments of emotion however I wasn’t desperate for the Hebrews to escape. More could have been done to achieve this desperation. This film obviously doesn’t stick identically to the events from the Old Testament book of Exodus and that is ok, as a film I think it is right to take its own interpretation, however there are certain moments from the Moses story that I am familiar with that have been left out or changed here. Smaller details being changed can actually be good, but for me the elements changed or left out here were crucial moments or aspects of his story and I thought it was shame that these were missed. Some of the moments I am referring to certainly would have made for some exciting scenes too. My biggest issue with the film though was its depiction of God. This is something that films with religious themes often try to do and I just don’t think it should be attempted. It is something that will never be done well and it is a task that our imaginations should be left with, as film viewers we should have to engage our brains at some stage. The depiction here was just so distracting that it took me out of the film and any scenes that featured this couldn’t be effective because of this. The film should have ended 10 minutes before it did too, this wasn’t an issue with length but instead these last scenes just felt rushed. Far too many aspects of Moses life after the escape from Egypt were just thrown in at the end and it felt like a sloppy end to what was a credible movie.
However, despite all the issues that I have just discussed I really did like this movie and it has a lot going for it. The story has certainly been altered slightly for Hollywood but I honestly think this is a good thing. This is a movie, it is meant to be entertaining and it was just that due to these altercations. Exodus is easily the best Biblical film that I have ever seen. I am so happy that these stories of epic proportions are finally getting the attention that they deserve, Exodus improves on the already ambitious Noah earlier in the year. Exodus succeeds in injecting life and excitement into a biblical movie, anytime I saw one before I just felt depressed, Ridley Scott has done a tremendous job of crafting a film that ignites the drama in every element of its story. This was partly due to the fantastic action sequences that were on offer here, there were several set pieces throughout the movie that were just great to watch. A personal highlight for me was the plague section. These scenes were brilliant for so many reasons, I liked the creativity with some, the effects were great and these were the scenes that brought out the most emotion. The combination of the action of these moments with the other elements I have mentioned made for some brilliant scenes. Despite the films 150 minute running time it never feels too long and it does well with its pacing, the action sequences help with this. Another way Ridley Scott was able to bring life to this story was through the look of the film. From the set design to the location shots and the costume design the film just looked spectacular and each of these elements combined to make a solid contribution to Exodus.
A lot of my issues do come from the differences in the story of Moses that I am familiar with but I’m not going to criticise the film for that but they may irritate some viewers. I was still really able to enjoy the movie and the changes weren’t massive so I was able to embrace them. Exodus: Gods and Kings was so interesting and it is going to produce a lot of discussion which I think is great. I can say with confidence that it is the best Biblical epic I have ever seen and I would love to see more stories from the Bible told in this way.
BIGGEST FLAW – Depiction of God
BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT – Plague scenes and Rhamses
Rating – 8.5/10