Exodus: Gods and Kings has finally arrived on Australian shores with much hype and controversy over the lead actors. I’ll address the controversy later on, but first lets get into the film.
Exodus is director Ridley Scott’s story of Moses (Christian Bale) and his figurative Egyptian brother, Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton). This version of Moses is sceptical of religion and God. He also doesn’t really have much sympathy towards the plight of the Hebrews in the beginning.
It’s not until Moses finds out that he is in fact a Hebrew, that he reluctantly starts to accept his true identity. Upon Ramses finding out, Moses gets banished from his home, leading him to wander through the desert. Weak and burned, he stumbles upon a village where he meets Zipporah (María Valverde), who eventually becomes his wife. The film then jumps ahead 9 years to find Moses is now a shepherd, on a journey to finding his faith and freeing 600,000 slaves.
The movie can’t be faulted for its visuals. Cinematographer and Visual effects people deserve an award for their creation. Viewers are transported into the world of a time we have all wondered about and researched. Here, we get to experience it visually in a way I can only describe as splendid and grand.
Exodus may not be as fast paced as other blockbuster films in the same genre, however, none of that takes anything away from the film. That’s not to say, this film is slow paced. Scenes depicting plagues are strong and on occasion, have to inject a little humour to lighten up the story. Exodus does have a bit of gore in it, especially in a scene where rivers turn into blood, but it’s not something that should turn away any viewer. What some might find confronting are scenes involving animals. Ridley does not shy away from showing animals (mainly horses) suffering and dying.
Much has been made by some critics about the “all white cast”. Let’s just say, it’s not completely an “all white cast”. While I understand & fully support the need to have more “ethnic” actors in lead roles, it is not right to attack Joel, Christian or even Ridley. If people are truly outraged, perhaps the anger should be aimed at movie studios/investors that won’t green light/finance films without some type of “Hollywood star power”. Blame those viewers that would otherwise not watch a film without some “Hollywood star power” attached.
Now with that out of the way – Joel Edgerton is believable as the nonchalant Pharaoh, who takes no pity on his people and wants to hurt Moses at all cost. He even manages to pull off the “pretty boy” tag that is historically attached to the real Ramesses. Christian Bale is much more likeable as Moses than he was as Batman. He brings the heart to the film and that’s a testament to his talent, as often Moses could have easily come across insane. Sigourney Weaver is in two brief scenes and sad to say, that’s two scenes too many. It has nothing to do with her acting ability, and more to do with the fact that she did not fit the role, at all.
What Exodus: Gods and Kings lacks in is serving an emotional punch. Some of the main elements in this film are human emotions such as betrayal, loyalty, love and pure rage, yet it fails to impact the audience much. Viewers won’t care about what will happen to the lead characters. There is enough material that could have been used to take audiences on an emotional rollercoaster, had the story been perfected. As it stands, it’s not a story that will have you thinking about on your way home.
Despite its shortcomings, people of any background/beliefs can enjoy this movie; I can’t see it being offensive to anyone. I rated 6 stars.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is in cinemas now.