Exodus: Gods and Kings
I would like to congratulate Ridley Scott on creating a movie that was nearly two and half hours long yet somehow managed to feel rushed at the same time. I would also like to congratulate him for somehow stripping a biblical epic of nearly all the inherent majesty and wonder that comes with the source material. Exodus: Gods and Kings stars Christian Bale as Moses in his fight against Ramses II (Joel Edgerton) to SPOILERS free the Hebrews from slavery, because he hit his head really hard on a rock.
Throughout the film, Moses interacts with many characters who have virtually no development. His sister Miriam appears for two scenes which are both before his exile to the Sinai Desert, his brother Aaron appears for one speaking scene and never talks again, and his masochistic disciple Joshua (Aaron Paul) does nothing except for repeatedly stare at him like a tweaked-out meth user.
The simple fact of the matter is, none of the characters are fully developed, some not even partially. Aaron’s son appears for one scene and has no lines. The relationship between Moses and his wife Tzipporah escalates from meeting to marriage in just one scene without even a montage, and then she and their son are completely ignored for the following hour and forty minutes, which begs the question of why they were even introduced in the first place.
It is quite clear that a significant amount of character development must have been lost in deleted scenes, an inference supported by an interview at Access Hollywood which says the original cut was four hours long. Perhaps Mr. Scott should have considered maintaining a longer length to this film so that character motivations such as Moses’ instant 180-degree turn from not caring about the Hebrews to raising an armed rebellion make sense. Worst of all, this clear lack of attention paid to character development caused the conflict between Moses and Ramses, the entire focal point of the movie, to carry no weight as their relationship was barely glanced upon before the plot began rolling.
The soundtrack was fitting and took a backseat to the action while emphasizing the tone, but it felt uninspired and heavily derivative of previous works such as The Prince of Egypt. It was an average work that painted by the numbers and certainly won’t be winning any awards, but at the very least it got the job done.
As for the cinematography, Dariusz Wolski did an extremely good job framing the cinematic world with unique camera angles and wide berths. It helped make the Egyptian empire truly feel grand and awe-inspiring, in spite of the muted color scheme’s monotony. Awe-inspiring is not the word that describes the film in general, however, because Ridley Scott had some insane obsession with doing in the wizard. Moses talking to god might just be the delusions of a crazy man, the Nile may have turned red with blood because of sediment which then drove the frogs out, the cattle and people may have become diseased because of flies, and the Red Sea parting was just low tide paired with a convenient tsunami.
Yeah, no. That’s in no way, shape or form what people want to see when they buy a ticket to a biblical epic. They want to see the God of the Old Testament come down on his enemies with the full force of the heavens themselves. The Red Sea is supposed to part into hundred-feet high walls of water and the Egyptians are supposed to be stricken with a gigantic pillar of flames. All we get is a swarm of locusts and some frogs, which only serves to make the audience feel like they just got cheated of their biblical murder fest.
Virtually the only performance in this film that can actually be credited is that of God himself, in a greatly expanded role from either the original text, which can be read in the better half of ten minutes, or from any of the previous Hollywood adaptations. It’s a truly unique portrayal which portrays the character in a more three-dimensional manner than in any adaptation of the Book of Exodus ever seen before. God is truly the highlight of the film and the actor, unnamed as to preserve the surprise, deserves immense credit for their performance.
My final complaint is that this film only received a PG-13 in the United States and a PG in Canada. The film contains men being torn apart limb from limb in a graphic manner by crocodiles as well as public hangings, and caused the five year old sitting behind me in the theatre to burst into tears. This is in no way, shape or form a film that children should be taken to and I’m appalled that this was only considered a “restrained portrayal of non-graphic violence”. Though this certainly isn’t the only issue with movie ratings we’ve encountered at PopcornFlicks. While not an issue with the movie itself, it’s certainly something to keep in mind before taking your child to see a man get dismembered on the big screen.
Then again, this isn’t a movie very much worth seeing on the big screen. It is a bland, thoughtless adaptation with half-baked characters and restraint in the one area it should never have been applied. If anyone is going to watch this movie, it should be rented from a Redbox for a dollar. It’s not worth your hard-earned money, and it was not worth my time. End of story.