Pages Navigation Menu

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (review)

exodus_gods_and_kingsEXODUS: GODS AND KINGS
Written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillan
Directed by Ridley Scott

Staring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley and John Turturro

Remember Cecil B. DeMille’s 3.5-hour epic, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, that always played at Easter when you were growing up? Remember how it dragged on and on, and how you loathed your parents for making you watch it even that one time? Ok, maybe that’s just me, but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. Ridley Scott’s latest epic drama, EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, is that exact same story once again, that one we all learned in Sunday school growing up, at least if you were raised in that manner. Caught somewhere between a disaster film and a dramatic character study, EXODUS follows in the footsteps of Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH. Not only does it also take liberties with its Biblical retelling, but it too is nothing more than a special effects heavy mess.

It probably won’t stir up the same level of controversy that Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST did, but EXODUS already has many people up in arms over the choice in cast. A mostly white cast portraying characters from a tale set in Ancient Egypt? What is this, 1957? It’s about time that studios and directors got with the times and cast the many talented actors that span all races and backgrounds. And Scott, don’t give us that bullshit that it had to do with funding. Really? You think a Welsh born Christian Bale with his pallid complexion is more believable as Moses than an actor of Middle Eastern decent? Somehow these archaic depictions of historical figures (whether fictional or not) always seem to find their way onto the big screen in this way, which keeps the right-wingers more than happy. Could you even imagine if Scott had chosen lead actors of Middle Eastern decent? Riots would have ensued.

exodus

The story of Moses, the leader of the Egyptian army and adopted son of the king, is a slow and drawn out one. He leads the army to success, wins the affection of the dying king and eventually finds out about his true heritage as a Hebrew when Ben Kingsley manages to convince Moses to attend one of their underground meetings in the slums. Moses, exiled by his best friend and adopted brother Rameses (Joel Edgerton), eventually has a little chat with God in the form of, yes, a young caucasian boy with a British accent. Either delusional, or actually conversing with that big thing in the sky, Moses eventually comes to terms with who he is and leads his people out of slavery and away from Egypt. To where? We never actually find out; it’s just somewhere on the other side of the water. (For more, read the Bible.)

Bale is not only visibly uncomfortable in his role as Moses, he is also incredibly boring. Honestly, there is nothing I can point to in his performance that I found even remotely enjoyable. Sigourney Weaver, who is by far the most interesting member of the cast is entirely underused. She is in it for the first 30 minutes but has all of two lines and then disappears completely. Yup, she is no where to be seen again. This is quite a shame because she is on all the posters and promo material that I saw, and I was looking forward to seeing Scott and Weaver working together again.

exodus_01-plague-battles-and-big-waves-in-first-exodus-gods-and-kings-trailer

In terms of visuals, EXODUS is actually rather stunning, from the cities and buildings, to the special effects of the disasters. Just don’t waste your money seeing it in 3D. With the exception of the four minutes when the locusts are plaguing the Egyptians, it is all rather underwhelming in that department. Even when the sea is being parted for the Hebrew people to walk to the other side of the shore, one of the more epic moments in the film, it all just amounts to a big load of nothing. There wasn’t even male eye candy to distract the audience, like in Scott’s GLADIATOR (and no, I’m definitely not talking about Russell Crowe). It was a severe disappointment on all counts, constantly missing out on some real opportunities to show off some muscular men in skimpy outfits.

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS is a 2.5-hour epic that simply doesn’t deliver. It’s a retelling of a story that many of us are familiar with but adds nothing new to the tale, save for cementing the fact that most people think that the Egyptians were all white, with accents from across the globe. While the controversy might be the most interesting reason to see the film, there just isn’t enough actually working in the film itself to keep one’s attention. The action sequences are underwhelming and the dialogue in the dramatic scenes is trite and uninspired. You’d probably be better off renting a copy of DeMille’s film; at least then you could see how they did special effects before computer generated ones came along and took over. Also, it’s a better film.

1.5 sheep

Your turn!

How many sheep would you give Exodus: Gods and Kings?

11 Comments

  1. Not only do I agree with all that was written in this review, let me add additional things that are SO bad and SO wrong with this movie – starting with hiring a vision impaired Make-Up artist. Sigourney Weaver looks like she came in third in a Sigourney Weaver drag queen contest and was Joel Edgerton’s and John Turturro’s black eyeliner trowelled on by a hopped-up Ru Paul?. The score is beyond generic. Spielberg should sue for plagiarism when it comes to the alligator (or were they crocodile) scenes. Lastly, what Exodus really needed was a camp sensibility that makes The Ten Commandments such a joy to watch!

  2. I think whomever reviewed this movie has a real chip on his shoulder about God. Haven’t seen Exodus, but want to say I’m Jewish, and Mel Gibson’s the Passion of the Christ was not anti semitic at all. It was very well done, exceptional and very close to Biblical text. It was phenomenal!!

    • I didn’t personally write this review but as the editor, I don’t find any sort major issue with God in this review. Issues with movies about God? Sure, but not specifically about God. And I can’t comment about whether or not I found The Passion of the Christ anti-Semitic, simply because I had to shut it off after about 45 minutes for just plain being bad.

    • I didn’t find the Passion anti-semitic either. It seemed pretty accurate to the biblical narrative.

  3. Is this a review of a movie or a political polemic about diversity in the film industry and Biblical storylines? Yeah, Passion was anitSemetic like Django Unchained is antiCaucasian, Saving Private Ryan is antiGerman, and The Godfather is antilaw and order. You lost me at “bullshit”.

    • Why can’t it be both a review and a critique of the industry and genre? It’s a shame you stopped reading at “bullshit” because you missed the actual review part of the review.

      • It absolutely can be both, but most of us who seek reviews want to know the quality of the movie, not the viewer’s personal opinion on the skin tone of actors, the religious tones of religious movies, or loathing of one’s parents for making one watch a genuine epic.

        I didn’t stop at “bullshit” I just said the reviewer lost me at bullshit, meaning he lost his credibility as a critic. I realize that this is the blogosphere and the rules are more relaxed, but using 7th grade descriptors for movies you don’t like (he can just use “this sucked, bro” next time) usually doesn’t help adults with movie decisions. As an editor, I’d think you’d pay more attention to detail about what I wrote. I read the review and the”actual” review was only about 2/3 of this review/op-ed piece.

        • No offence, Bill, but I think it is entirely fair to interpret your comments to mean you stopped reading at “bullshit”. Sure, you could also be saying you kept reading but didn’t take any of it seriously past that point but to suggest that my interpreting “lost me at bullshit” as you having stopped reading at that point as a lack of attention to detail is a bit much.

          In all honesty, I questioned whether to keep the word “bullshit” in the review when I was editing this piece but I ultimately decided it fit the tone of the piece and that Ridley Scott likely deserved it.

          I happen to think Nick did a great job here. Writing in one’s experience of a film before coming to it only contextualizes the reader to better understand where the writer is coming from. And we also live in a world now where it can sometimes be difficult to separate the film from what went into making it. That isn’t always the case but this is Nick’s experience of Exodus and I think he communicated that experience very well.

          • No offense taken, Joseph. But it is no less wrong to have assumed that. I still think it’s a fair assessment on my part that your interpretation of “you lost me at….” as meaning the same as “I stopped reading after…” is inapt.

            I sincerely appreciate your candid statement about debating on whether to include profanity. I make no claim that editing is easy; I’m sure it’s a lot of guess work where you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I will just say that I have no problem with profanity, per se (I use it all too frequently in my personal life), but just think it comes off as amateurish and unprofessional here, and likewise if it’s the Huffington Post, The Daily Show, or Redeye.

            For the record, I thought Scott’s fiscal explanation that he made was bullshit but it’s my humblest of opinions. I wish he had just said “Hey, I wanted a big name for this movie and the big names in my head happened to be white. “Middle Eastern” is not traditionally concerned a “race”. Besides we put minority actors in roles which are traditionally not expressly minority characters.” Or something along those lines.

            As for Nick’s review, I can certainly appreciate your support (I surmise that is part of your job) but I can only disagree wholeheartedly. I don’t think Naomi was too far off either. I had little inclination to see the film before seeing his review; now it it intrigues me.

        • Bill,

          Firstly, I want to thank you for taking the time to read my review, I appreciate everyone who sits through one of my misinformed pieces about movies, and then makes the effort to reach out (as compliment or complaint) and engage in conversation.

          If you had followed any of the controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ you would have known that many critics (myself included) and religious types (myself not included) found the depiction of certain characters to be rather anti-Semitic. I am not alone in thinking this, you can easily find many pieces on this topic on the internet.

          I like to open all of my reviews with a background of movie (e.g., the director, cast, story) to give the reader a context not only for the movie itself, but to have an understanding of the particular lens I saw it through. After all, I am the one reviewing it. Having known about the controversy surrounding this film, that it the lens I saw Exodus through and I don’t think it would have been fair had I not made this completely clear to my readers (including you).

          I am sorry if you felt this was more “politically” driven, but if you want something that just tells you simply whether or not “this sucked, bro” you can find a myriad of sites that will tell you straight up whether you should see the film, without asking its reader to form any sort of opinions of their own, or welcome any kind of debate.

          It’s clear that my use of the word “bullshit” offended you, but I wasn’t using that to describe the film. In fact, I was calling out Scott, and his reasoning I felt (and still strongly feel) was bullshit, which, frankly it is. I don’t often use that kind of language in my reviews, but I do when it’s called for, and I felt it more than fitting here.

          Once again, thank you for taking the time to read and respond, the internet wouldn’t be the same without people like you.

          Best,
          Nick

          • Nick,

            Likewise, thanks for taking the time to respond.

            I’m well aware of the claims of antiSemitism in Passion when the movie debuted. I was living in heavily-Catholic St Louis, Missouri at the time and heard plenty about the movie, from all sides. I’ve just always found the claim both baseless and lazy, especially in a film in which something like 90% of the characters are Jewish, who exhibit character strengths and weaknesses which run the gambit. Had you used “many critics” in your review, I wouldn’t have even noticed much less comment on it. But you called it the antiSemetic as if it were fact. Granted, I know this is coming from your fingers, but it came across as ipso facto rather than “this is what I believe”.

            I take no issue with your style and personalizing the review. As you say, it’s through your particular lens. It’s your creation and it will have your DNA in it. All of that, we understand. In fact, I found the rest of the review very informative and helpful, from the movie length to Bale’s interpretation to the visuals. I suppose my true issue is just with the amount of sentences dedicated to something other than the movie itself.

            Where you have me completely wrong is your misinterpretation that I was offended by the language. Nothing could be further from the truth. I use it, abuse it, and enjoy it in my comedy and movies. I’ll so far as to say that The Sopranos ruined network TV dramas for me because nobody really talks like that (rated G) in real life. As I inarticulately tried to say, it just comes off as kind of bush league. Yes, I realize we in a society that loves the supercasual, where White House spokesmen say “dude” in responses to national security questions and The Blaze and Huffington Post, who desperately want to be considered news, yet in efforts to get more clicks use the most deceptive and sensationalist headlines which any middle school could come up with. Yes, I guess I’m old fashioned. So let me be clear, while I mentioned it in my comment on your review, my issue has very little to do with you and much more to do with what I see as the downsides of the democratization of the media.

            I appreciate both you and your editor taking the time to respond to my (lengthy) comments and wish you continued success. After this response, I won’t take up any more of your time with my comments but I will certainly read anything further you or Joseph would like to say.

            V/r,

            Bill

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » Egypt bans Exodus for being ‘inaccurate’ - […] favourite review comes from Nick Watson, of Black Sheep Reviews, who touched on two interesting […]

Share Your Thoughts