Exodus: Gods And Kings is the latest film from long time film director Ridley Scott who some may know for his work with such films as Gladiator (2000), Blade Runner (1982), Alien (1979) or Kingdom Of Heaven (2005) which are just a few of his great films. Exodus: Gods And Kings stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Indira Varma. The film follows the biblical story of Exodus and is focused on Moses and his attempt to leave Egypt and escape the rule of the Pharaoh, Ramses The Great.
I had quite high expectations for this film going into it as I knew Ridley Scott was directing it and being a film from one of my favourite directors I thought I was going to get something pretty special with this film. Adding to Ridley Scott we also have Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton who are two actors I do like watching and this meant that I was expecting something pretty great and the film didn’t disappoint me at all, in fact I was quite entertained.
Last year’s biblical film Noah (2013) was something that I did kind of enjoy, but I felt could have been done much better. Being a film adapted from the bible, Exodus: Gods And Kings in my view does well to follow the story of Moses and his plights with Ramses. However, even though I am in no way an expert when it comes to the story of Exodus, having not read it for a very long time, I do know that the film isn’t exactly accurate the whole way through. There are things I know that happen such as God talking from the burning bush which is in the bible, but in the film he talks through this kid and I don’t know, for some reason I found the kid to be irritating. There are some other biblical differences such as not using the staff and more well versed people with the story will notice other things I’m sure about the film.
But I don’t necessarily view this film as being something that has to be exactly the same as what was written so I am not bothered with some liberties here and there (except the kid, he was so irritating) and this isn’t a comparison review of the bible chapters and the film so I’ll just stick to the film side of things and consider it adapted from the original story. It still tells the basic story quite well and in terms of that I do like the film overall.
Something that I did like about Exodus: Gods And Kings was that of the rivalry between Ramses (Joel Edgerton) and Moses (Christian Bale). I felt that the tension between the characters was well built up and we see Ramses as a character who loves the power that leadership brings, but isn’t really the most effective or kindest Pharaoh, especially when it comes to his treatment of the Hebrews. Moses on the other hand is a strong leader, who really is much more skilled than Ramses when it comes to combat, leadership and even just governing in general. The rivalry between the two is kind of similar in tone to what we see between Commodus and Maximus in Gladiator (2000) but Gladiator is the better film when it comes down to it. Being from the same director I suppose some of that tone is transferred over a little bit in this one and you can see some similarities.
In terms of the special effects for Exodus: Gods And Kings, I found them to be quite good. All of the large scale sequences like the many different plagues and the parting of the sea were all well done. I suppose of course, you get these types of things fairly well done as it is quite a big budget film. I’m not so into special effects sequences at the moment personally, but if you’re one of those people that goes for them then it’s all there for you.
The costumes on the Hebrew side of things were kind of just average and nothing special but some of the Egyptian costumes were awesome. I don’t know if you would call it a hat but the hat that the Pharoah wears looked great on screen. All of the Egyptian side of the film looked great and had some good use of colour and the small things like the tiger skin rugs and the look of the kingdom in general all were very impressive. You get the sense that Egypt during those ancient years is a most grand kingdom and that helps transfer over to the Ramses character and the sheer power he has at his command. Everything is so big and massive in Egypt and I can kind of see why some Pharoah’s would think themselves as a God in their world as everything is at their command and this film definitely portrays that side of ancient Egyptian culture.
The acting in Exodus: Gods And Kings is good and I especially liked the performance from Joel Edgerton in this one. I just felt that he played a good Ramses and at times I felt sorry for what his character was going through. Some of the more emotive points that Edgerton has to deal with in the film are all well done. I’ve been impressed his recent performances as well in his other films like The Great Gatsby (2013) and Felony (2014) and in this one he does well again. Christian Bale is also good as Moses, but he’s always good in all his films, it’s not his best film but he delivers as well as he always does. Other actors in the film kind of disappeared and aren’t so memorable to me which include Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Indira Varma. Although Indira Varma did well enough for her short role and Ben Kingsley seemed to be put in more for comedic relief than anything else.
In terms of the directing, Ridley Scott did very well with this one and his films seem always high in quality (well to me anyway). The only issue I did have with the film really was the kid who speaks as God as I just found him irritating (apologies for not putting the actors name, I can’t see him on IMDB anywhere). I just felt that a voiceover could really have been more effective and I guess it just goes back to how much you want the story to stick to the bible or not. For me I’m fine with everything and actually if it wasn’t for the kid I would give the film quite a high score. I do like these biblical stories and although I haven’t read Exodus for a long time, I am considering reading through it again to spot the differences and if this film inspires people to start reading the biblical stories or even looking into ancient Egyptian history then I think it’s a positive thing to have, I for one would like to read up on both when I get more time.
The only other criticism I have of the film is that it’s got this modern feel to it that I guess comes from all the superhero films recently, where the story seems to make Moses like a hero figure, with origin story and everything. It’s something I’ve noticed with a lot of stories lately in cinema and I don’t know if I enjoy it or not yet. But it’s only a small observational comment about this film and recent films in general.
Overall I would say that Exodus: Gods And Kings is a fairly well made film from Ridley Scott and is worth seeing at the cinemas. It has some issues I suppose with it not being 100% accurate when compared with the biblical story but it tells its story well and it’s actually much better than last year’s Noah in my view. The acting from Joel Edgerton is very good as Ramses The Great and Christian Bale’s Moses is very entertaining to watch. The sets and the special effects are well done and overall it’s good entertainment. It’s got a long run time but I found I was very into the film the whole way through and wasn’t bored at all. Go and see it if you you like biblical stories, or ancient Egypt as I think it will appeal to these people the most.