Exodus: Gods and Kings offers quite an exciting premise with the likes of Ridley Scott and Christian Bale headlining the film, but its end product is a 150 minutes of tired clichés, flat characters and a story that doesn’t provide anything we as an audience haven’t seen a million times already.
The Biblically inspired epic marks Sir Ridley’s return to the screen since 2013’s equally dreadful The Counselor. The story is inspired by the Book of Exodus in which Moses led the Hebrews to freedom from slavery from the Egyptians. The biggest problem I had with watching this film, if you’re as big a fan of Ridley Scott’s work as I am, you will be able to see that the story is basically a rip off of Scott’s masterpiece Gladiator. The characterisation of both Moses and Ramses the Great in this film is virtually identical to both Maximus and Commodus from Gladiator, the only thing separating them of course is that one film is set in Ancient Egypt whilst the other is set in Ancient Rome. Sadly, the performances of both Bale and Joel Edgerton were not enough to satisfy my disdain for how badly both Moses and Ramses were developed. I understand that when you are making a film based on a Biblical text or actual events, that characterisation is difficult because you have to make sure you’re being true to the actual figures that your characters are based on. But the thing that bugged me the most was that they didn’t even try to make the characters interesting, people need to understand that it is not enough to have famous actors headlining your film, if the characters are flat out monotonous and underdeveloped then we as the audience are going to be bored out of our skull for the whole duration.
However, credit must be given where it is due. Despite the failure of the story and the characters, both Bale and Edgerton manage to give brilliant performances as the two central characters of the film. Their portrayal of the volatile relationship between Moses and Ramses is engrossingly dynamic and is probably the best aspect within the film. The film also includes quite an unusual supporting cast including: John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, Ben Mendelsohn and Sigourney Weaver. While the casting of the film has generated controversy amongst the religious community, the performances of the film are effective and are one of the film’s higher points. Another positive point in the film was the visuals. Some of the most compelling and captivating use of special effects I have seen this year. The parting and closing of the Red Sea, the depiction of the Ten Plagues of Egypt and the battle scenes are examples of some of the film’s great usage of special effects. However, despite its advantages, I did find myself feeling that the use of visuals was used to overcompensate for the film’s lack of ingenuity.
Ridley Scott’s latest film is ultimately a failure and it is sad to see how the mighty have fallen. I can only hope that he regains his magic in whatever he choses as his next project.
FINAL WORD: Sadly, the performances of Bale and Edgerton and the gripping use of special effects are not enough to save the film from its fundamental errors in its inept story, tiresome characters and lack of originality.