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| 2 December 2014 | Reply

Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley, Joel Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, John Turturro
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
9.5/10 for the visuals
6.5/10 for the rest

Exodus Gods & Kings poster

As epic and grandiose a movie, visually, as anything brought to the screen in recent memory, Exodus: Gods & Kings realises Ancient Egypt, The Nile, The Red Sea and the surrounding countryside in minute detail, as well as a cast of tens of thousands, all through a combination of real action and CGI.

Concerning itself with the Old Testament saga of Moses and the events leading up to and including his leading the enslaved Hebrews out of Egypt and the clutches of Pharoah and his corrupt minions, Exodus tries very hard to be a mighty swords & sandals epic. You should all know the biblical stories by now, and they’re all here, including a succession of plagues visited upon Egypt with gross-out glee by Scott.

Christian Bale sinks his teeth into the meaty part of Moses, while Joel Edgerton broods sullenly for most of the movie, with the occasional flash of megalomaniacal fervor as Moses’ (adoptive) cousin and eventual nemesis, the Pharoah Rhamses. Ben Kingsley (Nun), Sigourney Weaver (as Rhamses mother Tuya), John Turturro (Rhamses father, Pharoah Seti) are all wasted in parts that, for all their historical/mythological (depending on where the bible sits with you) gravitas, have little depth to them at all. On another note, opting for star names ahead of authentic acting chops has left the Egytian people seemingly a multi-cultural race of mostly white folks who speak in accents as far flung as the Americas, England, Scotland and even, in one or two cases, the Middle East.

As a biblical epic pitched directly to the enormous Christian and Jewish market, Scott seems to take glee in depicting their God as a bloodthirsty and merciless child, unleashing devastation and destruction as revenge for hundreds of years of subjugation of his people. Whether that will result in a boycott and financial backlash against Exodus remains to be seen.

More than that though, despite having such an incredible tale to work with, the director has seemingly spent the majority of the estimated 140 million dollar budget on the visuals, forgetting to ensure that the script had depth, the characters had personality, and the film had the ability to connect emotionally with its audience. As a collection of vignettes, each one bloodier and destructive than the last, it is a fascinating case study – but as a movie it’s overlong and lacking in emotional punch.

Category: Movie & Theatre Reviews

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