God has made a couple of movie appearances in blockbusters this year. Firstly, there was Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, showing how Russell Crowe takes on the bearded wise man in God’s footsteps. In between was Son of God. Now this, Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings. A new take on the grand biblical tale.
It’s a well-worn story – certainly one that has been passed around for a few thousand years at least. But, fresh with Scott’s auteur film-making; spectacular effects and stellar casting, it feels like something new entirely – and easily secures itself as the best biblical story to arrive on the big screens for at least thirty-odd-years.
For those who missed Sunday school, Exodus is based on the feud between Moses and Ramses as God directs Moses to lead the 600,000 enslaved Israelites out of the Egyptian empowerment.
Granted, the effects in Exodus are incredible and encompass real God-like abilities on the screen. Teamed with recent collaborating cinematographer, Dariusz Wolski, Scott supersedes any of his films made over the past ten-years and claims this as his greatest film since Oscar-winning Gladiator.
Similar to Gladiator, the lead-cast taking on the swords-and-sandals sub-genre are incredibly well performed – but often do not fit into the roles likeness. In Exodus, taking on the Eastern and African roles are Americans, British and Australians. But more specifically, Christian Bale as Moses, Joel Edgerton as Ramses and co-starring likes of Sir Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver (although, she only has one line – completely underused), John Turturro, Aaron Paul and Ben Mendelson.
For 150 minutes, Exodus tells the story between Moses and Ramses. It’s a tale many have heard before, in fact done masterfully by Charlton Heston in The Ten Commandments some sixty-years ago – but Exodus gives it a fresh perspective. Moses’ perspective more so. One that chronicles how he beings a strong atheist and military general alongside Ramses as a brother, through to how he accepts that there is a God and leads thousands in this vision.
Throughout, and not even attempting to diverge from the detailing in the bible, the film shows Gods savagery within the ten plagues, right down to the one where he kills small children as they sleep – yes, it happens, Old Testament God was not very nice. It also shows Moses’ portrayed as a freedom fighter come terrorist against Edgerton’s tyrannical portrayal of Ramses, which is powerful to witness. But, positively, there are no signs of giant CGI rock creatures appearing to save the day – oh, Noah.
More hindrance than help, Exodus does not just beat around the (burning) bush, but it follows every detail. As many will know, the Red sea parts where Moses and co’ cross through. This is where the film should have ended. But it didn’t. It continued on for another twenty-something-minutes with freedom scenes and the Ten Commandments tablet written some years later. Which is great, but leaves the gripping epic in all its entirety to finish in such anti-climactic style.
VERDICT: Exodus: Gods and Kings is Ridley Scott’s best film since Gladiator. Not as good mind, but still damn entertaining in biblical portions.