UK Release Date: 26th December 2014
Runtime: 150 minutes
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, María Valverde, John Turturro, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul
Synopsis: Moses and his royal brother find themselves on opposite sides of morality, even when ten plagues bring chaos to Egypt.
The Biblical epic made a real comeback in 2014. First, there was Darren Aronofsky’s joyously bizarre, unorthodox take on Noah, which has now been followed by Ridley Scott’s far more conventional retelling of the Moses story – Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramesses (Joel Edgerton), brought up as brothers, begin to grow apart when the latter becomes the new Egyptian Pharaoh. One day, Moses meets Hebrew slave Joshua (Aaron Paul) and becomes appalled at the conditions in which these people live before being informed that he is a Hebrew by Nun (Ben Kingsley). This causes him to be exiled by Ramesses until he returns to warn of ten plagues sent upon Egypt by God.
Unlike Noah, there’s a real problem with Exodus: Gods and Kings in that it feels like we’ve seen it all before. Whilst Aronofsky attempted to revitalise the genre, Exodus director Ridley Scott has concocted a film that doesn’t seem to have an original bone in its body.
| "You sleep well because you know that you’re loved. I’ve never sleep that well."
Much has been made of the film’s supposedly white-washed casting. However, it’s not that fact that is most striking. Instead, it becomes clear early on that none of the cast members are giving Exodus: Gods and Kings their best work. Christian Bale growls and murmurs through the lead role, whilst Joel Edgerton is nothing more than a silly panto villain.
Worse still are the supporting cast. They look as if they really want the chance to perform, but are not being thrown any bones by the script. Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul do very little other than occasionally imparting exposition, whilst María Valverde is embarrassingly sidelined as Moses’ wife.
The worst problem, though, is that Exodus: Gods and Kings is simply boring. There’s little intrigue to the story, which we’ve all heard before, and the script does absolutely nothing to make it new and interesting. Only the plague sequences have any real flair to them, despite the stellar work of cinematographer Dariusz Wolski throughout.
| "Remember this. I am prepared to fight. For eternity."
Unfortunately, there’s just nothing interesting about Exodus: Gods and Kings. It feels irritatingly safe, unsure of which risks it is allowed to take and whether it should opt to take them. It’s certainly not a Biblical masterpiece. In fact, it’s more of an epic failure.
Pop or Poop?
Despite positive early signs, the 2014 revitalisation of the Biblical epic hit an enormous stumbling block with Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Bale and Edgerton stutter in their bland leading roles and the action set pieces are handsome, but lacking in emotional impact.
There’s nothing worth watching here.
Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.