Film Review – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Exodus - post

Title – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Director – Ridley Scott (Blade Runner)

Cast – Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Sir Ben Kingsley, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro

Plot – Based on the Biblical story of Moses (Bale) and his journey to lead the Hebrew slaves of Egypt out of the land ruled by the nefarious King Rhamses (Edgerton), a man he was once like a brother to.

 “Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity”

Review by Eddie on 5/12/2014

All creative persons/artists go through a creative funk, it’s just part and parcel of the business they’re in. Whether it be a writer who suffers from the dreaded writers block, an actor that can’t seem to buy a hit or a painter that can’t seem to replicate the images in their heads, the creative lulls affect all. Famed British director Ridley Scott, the visionary master behind such classics as Alien, Blade Runner and Gladiator has found himself in one of these creative dead zones, but the most telling thing about his time in this lowly state (other than the awful The Counselor) is that his been there for the better part of a decade and after witnessing his new cashed up epic Exodus, it seems he is destined to remain there for the foreseeable future.

Exodus is one of the most telling examples of storytelling mediocrity overshadowing impeccable production values that I’ve ever seen and it would be hard for anyone to argue against the pure visual value present on screen in what is a clearly lavishly splurged upon epic. From monuments through to the slums of the slave’s right down to the extra clad streets, Exodus brims to life with a detailed and often incredible visual palette. While the wonders of the on screen production will consistently make you look twice, there seems like such little point to an exercise like this when all is surrounded by a script that never allows us in, alongside Scott directing proceedings like a man that wants to show off but not engage, direction more concerned with how to spectacularly kill of horses than making the characters and story come to life.

Much has been made in the media of late surrounding the casting of actors in Exodus but more importantly to movie goers it’s important to know just how tame the acting turns are here. Christian Bale makes for a watchable yet not entirely memorable Moses, his incarnation has moments of brief humanity but he feels more a caricature than a living breathing embodiment of one of the Bibles most well-known figures, we feel tiny bits of the weight Moses had on his shoulders, yet our care towards him remains dangerously low. On the other end of the spectrum Australian Joel Edgerton (in perhaps his biggest Hollywood gig yet) fails to deliver on what should’ve been a glorious big screen villain in the form of Rhamses. All eyeliner and grizzled looks, Edgerton fails to convince in his role and it feels from the get go that sadly he may’ve been miscast much like John Turturoo’s Seti, Aaron Paul’s Joshua and Ben Kinglsey’s Nun, even the usually scene stealing Ben Mendelsohn as Hegep fails to make much of a mark which leaves the film but a few genuine moments of memorability, that being all largely related to the onset of the plagues.

Impressive visuals, stunning sets and some genuinely wow inducing moments concerning the plagues aren’t enough to save this emotionally void epic from a giant wave of the mundane. Scott sure knows how to conduct his production department and his sweeping camera sure can capture some outstanding action but the one time storyteller has lost sight of how to portray his characters, how to play out a story and Exodus looks set to become another Scott failure that looks likely to underwhelm audiences as well as Box Office’s the world over.

2 shades of eyeliner out of 5

28 responses to “Film Review – Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

    • Yeh I was getting pretty average vibes from all the pre release stuff revolving around this flick and sadly it’s another average at best entry into the Scott filmography.
      E

  1. Eddie, thank you for seeing this so I don’t have to. This doesn’t seem like any improvement over its predecessor, The Ten Commandments with an American Moses 🙂 I also question the release date since this seems better suited to the spring and Passover unless they really thought this would be Oscar material…really???

    • I have the feeling Joan that it will not be a feature at many awards get ups or box office receipts. Scott really does need to show us something soon, hopefully his upcoming Martian can do that.
      E

  2. I’m supposed to see a screening next week and have almost been dreading it..not being a religious person in the slightest, I had realized i probably wouldn’t have a clue what is going on..then I thought..oh the visuals will be great & acting has to be decent at least..after reading this..I might just decide to skip it. *sigh*

  3. Is it true that the parting of the Red Sea is shown to be the product of an earthquake/volcanic activity? I heard that was the case, and that’s interesting because that idea has been entirely discredited. I’m sure if I will sit this one out or see it for the train wreck, but it will kill me seeing the Egyptians fight with sword styles that wouldn’t exist until Roman times.

  4. Opens here next week and I hear zero buzz on it. No one seems hyped for it and reviews like this crush the hope that we might be getting a Christmas surprise.

  5. Too bad. It has been such a good year for Christian films. Hope this doesn’t leave a bad taste in Hollywood’s mouth. Did you like Noah? I thought it was pretty good.
    The casting was a clue that they weren’t necessarily on the right track and it sounds like I was right. Bummer. Thanks for your review.

      • Yeah I agree. I’d say it was solid. I’m not buying the blu-ray but I thought it was cool. Too bad this one isn’t up to snuff. I love the original and actually love Prince of Egypt which I think is one of the most underrated cartoons.

  6. I saw this today and just wrote my own review. I entirely agree with you though – very poor storytelling that lacks drama. Given that it’s 150 minutes long, that makes for pretty tedious viewing. This is one of the worst films I’ve seen this year.

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