Ridley Scott has been very hit or miss for me lately. Mostly miss with his last 3, but I have been looking forward to this one, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Despite the rather oddly pale looking Egyptians, the talent is staked. Joel Edgerton, Christian Bale, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley. It is written by a compilation of Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian. And I have got to say, this probably Ridley Scott’s best film since American Gangster.
The story follows the biblical epic of Moses (Bale). It chronicles his relationship with Ramesses II (Edgerton) as it deteriorates and leads to the discovery of his past. Ramesses wanting to spare Moses’ life, exiles him from Egypt. While on his journeys Moses finds God and must return to Egypt to free his people.
The film is really good. Early on I had my reservations with the cast. Not so much with Christian Bale, but Joel Edgerton and Sigourney Weaver being cast as Egyptians. They were the whitest looking Egyptians I had ever seen. Not to mention the make up in the early trailers looked off. I assume the effects and editing hadn’t been done, because as more trailers came out, they looked better. And the actors can kind of take you out of the film, but when you get past it, they give incredible performances. Edgerton, who I am a huge fan of thanks to Warrior, plays a great Ramesses. Bale as always is incredible, and plays Mosses with such heart, and really give one of best performances.
The effects in the film are amazing. When it comes time for God to send his Ten Plagues. The CGI is seamless, and beautifully shot. It almost makes me wish I had seen it in X D or even 3D. There was a moment during a scene toward the end that I could tell the green screen was behind them, but only a moment, other than that it is incredible. Scott does a phenomenal job telling this age old story, and really delivers on the feel of an Epic type of film. There is a training montage there in the middle that kind of even feels like Scott is trying to say “Sorry about Robin Hood, I swear I could have done it better”. The film is 150 minutes, and you feel the weight, but it does not drag. Honestly could of stood for, and wanted another half hour of this epic story.
A lot of people have been worried about how many liberties would be taken with the story of Exodus. Now I am no expert on the Bible, but I think Scott and his writing team did a very good job of bringing this story to life without straying too far from its source material. Unlike Noah there are no Rock Monsters, or a creator, it is God, and he is speaking to Moses. And they do a great job not making the relationship between Moses and God cheesy. Or giving you a weak God. God is pissed, God is Old Testament God. He is ready for his people to be free.
My list of negatives is rather nitpicky I think. When I said I could have stood for another half hour, it’s because I would’ve liked a little more character development in certain places. The jump from Moses of Egypt, to Moses of the Hebrews comes rather quickly. 15 or 20 more minutes showing us the relationship between Moses and Ramesses would have made me care more about the Ramesses turn. When the film starts they are already grown, and close to one another. More time with the two would have been golden. Something else missing is the development of Ramesses. He goes from a fair and just General, to a tyrant of a Pharaoh at the snap of a finger. And while they take time to develop Moses on his own, Ramesses is left with no development, and just a subtle scene that shows you “hey, he’s a big dick now”. Toward the end there is an opportunity for a fight between Moses and Ramesses, and they build up through the film really warranted a showdown between the two and you don’t really get that. As well there is very little story of Moses retrieving the 10 Commandments. The film kind of hits a point and goes “ok let’s wrap up”. A few more minutes could have helped with this.
All in all, Exodus: Gods and Kings is a great film. A film that really only suffers from needed a little more character development. I’m giving it a 4.7, with a .3 bonus for the incredibly awesome water into blood plague, giving us a Jeebus Score of 5.0, Multiple Viewings Required.