Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

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So everybody is shitting all over this movie. Literally everyone. I haven’t seen even one mildly positive review for Ridley Scott’s latest epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings. Personally, I don’t understand all the hate. I don’t think Exodus is a very good movie, but I also don’t think it’s very bad either. There were a few moments when I zoned out. But there were also a couple exciting moments that I was glad to witness.

Christian Bale (Moses) and Joel Edgerton (Ramses) with John Turturro in the background.
Christian Bale (Moses) and Joel Edgerton (Ramses) with John Turturro in the background.

Exodus has a few good things going for it. It is a relatively entertaining film, but the story was not modernized enough to make it really interesting and exciting. I don’t mean that it needed the Michael Bay treatment with more action, etc. I think the writers of Exodus failed to reinvigorate the story and add anything new to it. Other than the ‘God as a child’ thing (which was interesting, but never expanded on). There are a few things I wish the film had done and I’ll list them below. Let me know if you agree because I don’t honestly know if they would be good ideas or if my interests are very different from the mainstream:
1. I wish there was more of a focus on the relationship between Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton). I find it very intriguing that the two grow up together and appear to be quite close. And are quite suddenly torn apart by their different religious backgrounds and political perspectives. But the film doesn’t focus on this conflict, except for briefly at the beginning.

Christian Bale gives a rare, dull performance. But his eyeliner is entertaining.
Christian Bale gives a rare, dull performance. But his eyeliner is entertaining.

2. I also wish there had simply been more Joel Edgerton. He is an actor that only very recently I have noticed. While watching The Great Gatsby I was kind of bored until Joel popped onto the screen as Tom. Suddenly everything felt energized and interesting and I ended up liking the film, mostly because of Joel. The same thing occurred while watching Exodus. I feel like Christian Bale just phoned it in as Moses, he did not do anything particularly compelling. Joel on the other hand embraced his role as Ramses and made him into more than just a one dimensional villain. I would have loved to have a bit more background on Ramses.
3. For a religious movie I feel that Exodus hardly delves into any religious matters and largely ignores them. It briefly toys with the idea of ‘if God is cruel why would you follow him’ kind of thing. But that’s about it. I also don’t like the idea that Christianity (or should I say Judaism? I’m not a religious person) is shown to be the superior religion. The Egyptian Gods don’t really exist, I guess? And what the heck religion is Moses’s wife? (And why would she be so accepting of a couple hundred thousand Hebrews moving in?) In our modern world I think it would have been immensely more interesting to show the other religions more, like that of the Egyptians and Moses’s wife. An interplay of neither of them being necessarily ‘better’ and why everyone should be allowed to have their own beliefs.
4. Visually I find Exodus is stunning. The plagues in particular look great (and scary). The parting of the Red Sea also looks great and was exciting. Although I’ll be honest, I wanted Moses and Ramses to have an epic sword fight in a tunnel of water or something. Kind of lame, I know, but without a clash like that the ending felt anti-climactic.
5. For a film about Moses, I feel like I don’t know very much about him after watching Exodus. Why does he embrace his Hebrew heritage and ‘his people’? Why does he adamantly follow God? Exodus glosses over these kinds of issues and it is frustrating. Maybe the director’s cut would be more satisfying. There had to be a lot stuffed into just 2 and ½ hours (although it didn’t feel that long to me.

I haven’t mentioned the white washing issues with Exodus because honestly, while watching the film it didn’t bother me. The only person who annoyed me was Sigourney Weaver because she was blindingly white. She looked more like a vampire than an Egyptian.

Joel Edgerton as Ramses outshines the rest of the cast.
Joel Edgerton as Ramses outshines the rest of the cast.

I would give Exodus two Joel Edgerton eyeliner smeared eyes out of five (the eyeliner game in this movie is a 10/10). Or maybe six Aaron Pauls creeping around rocks out of ten (seriously, he is ridiculous). I feel that I didn’t waste my time or money watching it, but I won’t be watching it again. Well, maybe I would give a director’s cut a try. One very positive thing I can take from this film is the great talent of Joel Edgerton. I’ll be keeping an eye on him from now on.

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3 thoughts on “Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

  1. Hmmm, yeah religious myth as a feature film is always going to run into troubles, I think. Still the visuals look amazing and I’d check it out (just maybe not until it’s released outside cinemas).

    Thanks for the review Sherise, your content continues to engage.

    Liked by 1 person

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