Not too long ago, we had Darren Aronofsky tackle the story of Noah and a lot of audiences were upset with how liberal he was with the source material (I was more upset with just generally how bad it was). And now, just months later, we have another famed director Ridley Scott (Alien, Prometheus, Gladiator) tackling a biblical tale in that of Moses. Will Scott have a better go than Aronofsky did?
Now, I want to let you know something. Exodus: Gods and Kings takes liberties with the source material and it shouldn’t be viewed as a direct translation. Know that going in.
The gist. Christian Bale stars as Moses, the Hebrew raised under the roof of Ramses and the leaders of Egypt, who kept other Hebrews as slaves. Starring as Ramses is Joel Edgerton (Warrior, The Odd Life of Timothy Green). We also have a random assortment of supporting cast members, including Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, and John Turturro.
If Ridley Scott does anything well, it’s creating epic and beautiful shots. The movie definitely has plenty of those moments and it can be breathtaking, especially the last act of the movie. Egypt has this very larger-than-life feeling, which immediately lets you know that the movie isn’t a standard biblical story but is going to take some liberties.
Christian Bale was fine but I was actually really impressed with some moments from Joel Edgerton, who continues to impress me. He managed to be both diabolical at times and yet also delivered some really touching moments. It was opposite of most roles I’ve seen him in, so I also appreciate the range he exhibited here.
What didn’t work?
First off, this movie is too long. The second act took way too long and really only served to give us one moment at the movie’s closing, which wasn’t worth it.
This movie also tries to walk two different lines and its tone is really confusing. It adheres closer to the source material than I expected but would likely lose its casual audience, as some parts I was confused by without context. But it also made Moses much more gray and complicated (and likely less likeable), which resembled more like what Aronofsky did with Noah. It feels like an awkward blend and likely alienated most viewers at some point.
Christian Bale didn’t do anything we haven’t seen before and really didn’t engage me at all. I wasn’t rooting for him and he wasn’t especially likeable. Aaron Paul didn’t really do much here and Sigourney Weaver had literally like three lines.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is just kind of a weird thing. If it was muted, it might make a cool music video, but the story is this strange blend of the biblical source material and then some artistic license with the characters. Christian Bale does the usual routine but Joel Edgerton does a new kind of character and gets to show off some new skills here. Go in with hesitation and low expectations.