Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014) – Review

3 1/2 Stars

Historical inaccuracies be damned, Ridley Scott’s biblical epic is a rousing achievement. Anchored by two solid leading men in stars Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, Exodus manages to get the pulse pounding even if the details are a bit shaky. Scott has dedicated this tale of warring brothers to his late brother, Tony Scott. Perhaps, this explains why the director has chosen to adapt the tale of Moses’ exile and eventual return to Memphis as an action film mixed with a disaster epic. Purist and fans of Cecile B. Demille’s work have cried foul, but Scott’s take can’t be dismissed so easily.

Bale is Moses, the hebrew born son of a slain man. His upbringing in the royal family causes much dismay among the elite of Egypt, particularly the Queen, (a forgotten Sigourney Weaver). The movie begins as the King (John Turturro) summons the high priestess for an omen before battle, the prophecy states that the savior of the savior will one day lead. This spooks the superstitious Prince Ramses (Joel Edgerton), who orders Moses to run the other way should he fall in battle. Of course, through a series of events Moses saves Ramses on the battlefield, setting up a conflict between their fragile bond.

Once Moses’ true identity is exposed to the new king, he is banished from the city. The lost man is eventually married and starts a family as a common Shepard herder, leaving behind his years of military service for quieter days. Until, one night on a sacred mountain top, Moses witness a spectacular sight. God is artistically represented in the form of a 10yr. old boy. This has caused a fair amount of controversy, but it works within the context of the actions on-screen. It is a dramatic license that makes use of a narrative trick, somebody has to play the role, in this case it is a child.

The movie reaches its pitch during a series of exceedingly grim and beautifully realized depictions of the plagues inflicted on Ramses and his rule. Locust, boils, frogs, angry crocodiles, and the death of all first-born sons, are all present and graphically presented. The most awe-inspiring visual is the massive tidal wave that takes out the marauding forces of Ramses’ army.

With so many moving parts, roles are left on the cutting room floor. Arron Paul is wasted in the wandering role of Joshua, as are Weaver and John Turturro. Each actor deserves a juicy role in the story, but all are sidelined in favor of zeroing in on the battle between brothers. If you walk into Exodus with an open mind, I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a professionally delivered Biblical action picture, complete with sweeping vistas, loud verbal proclamations, and some creative special effects.

Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Arron Paul, Sigourney Weaver

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