Resident reviewer Gavin Miller casts his eye over biblical blockbuster Exodus: Gods and Kings...and isn’t overly impressed.
British director Ridley Scott puts in a gladiatorial effort with this biblical epic but ends up fighting a losing battle.
This is more akin to Kingdom of Heaven than Gladiator on Scott’s impressive movie resume – as his story of Moses generally misfires by taking a different angle that was never going to satisfy all faiths.
There’s no ‘baby in the basket’ origin story, the ‘ten commandments’ don’t really play a part, and Christian Bale’s Moses is portrayed more as a general than a prophet.
Taken as Scott’s vision alone, it still has some admirable qualities with high production values, but it can’t seem to shake off the ‘artistic license’ that has been taken with the legend, that undoubtedly won’t be to everyone’s taste.
It generally follows the path that most people know, as defiant leader Moses – along with faithful aides Joshua (Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul) and Nun (Ben Kingsley) – rises up against Egyptian pharaoh, and former best friend, Ramses (The Great Gatsby’s Joel Edgerton) and the might of an empire.
After receiving messages from God – who is portrayed in the form of a boy in the film – a terrifying cycle of plagues are unleashed on the Egyptians, which leads to Moses taking 600,000 Hebrew slaves on a monumental journey back to their homeland.
Sadly – even though some of the plague set-pieces are decent – the story never really gets out of third gear throughout, and simply isn’t as epic as it wanted to be, with some of the cast like Kingsley, Paul and Sigourney Weaver sorely underused.
And the classic ‘parting of the Red Sea’ scene simply doesn’t resonate like it should have – and gives the movie a bit of an underwhelming finale.
Exodus isn’t without its merits – and is just about watchable – but Scott’s ‘change of tact’ with the bible story generally doesn’t work over the film’s duration, despite one or two interesting intentions.
Ultimately something along the lines of 1956 Charlton Heston/Yul Bryner-starring The Ten Commandments would probably have been a lot more satisfying.