Christian Bale had made comments about his character, Moses, was a “Schizophrenic and barbaric”. I don’t know what Bible he has been reading but, that is not the Moses I was taught about. In fact, there is not much in Ridley Scott’s sprawling Exodus: Gods and Kings that I could connect to. As excited as I was to see this, man oh man, was this a disappointment.
Scott, intent on rekindling his Gladiator mojo, seems to have lost it all together on this tired, rather cold and empty film about Moses leading the Hebrews back to Canaan. There does not seem to be much passion for this material and as I watched this film (all two and a half hours of it) I could not believe that Ridley Scott was at the helm of this film. Was he trying to be respectful to the Scriptures? Or was this his interpretation of the Scriptures in a negative way? With Darren Aronofsky’s (a self described Atheist) Noah, it seems we have come full circle and in a single year trashed the Bible and some of its most prophetic messengers of God with just two films.
It is not that Exodus is an affront to Christians the way Noah was portrayed, but Scott has drained every ounce of life out of the story of Moses. Enslaved for 400 years, the Hebrews you would think would be chomping at the bit to return to their homeland and with Moses leading them. But everybody in this film seems to want to be anywhere but there. The acting is stiff and wooden. The CGI shots of the landscape are bland and boring. The color seems muted so that nothing pops off of the screen. There is not majesty or magic in Exodus. It is a flaccid mess.
Joel Edgerton is sleepwalking as Ramses. He mumbles a great deal of his lines and seems to be channeling a stoner rather than a diabolical pharaoh. John Turturro is horrendous as Seti (I had no idea Seti was from Brooklyn). I don’t know whose choice it was to cast Turturro, a terrific actor, in this picture. There was not a second in which I believed he was even in the same hemisphere as the character, Seti. Bale did not move me as Moses. He calls Moses, “Schizophrenic, barbaric and mercurial”? But in the film, Moses comes across as none of those things. There is no fire or passion in his performance, at all. The rest of the cast is wasted with little screen time and are given even less to do. Why would you go through the trouble of casting Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, Ewen Bremner, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Tara Fitzgerald and Maria Valverde and not utilize them to enhance your film? They simply come and go with little fanfare or substance.
Exodus: Gods and Kings has all of the elements to be a great film, but it has no energy or power. This is a film that should leave you in awe and with a powerful message but instead, it comes across as dull and uninspiring. I guess when you hire the two guys who wrote Tower Heist to pen your script, you know your project is in trouble. There were reported scrip problems while this was filming and evidently, hiring Steve Zaillian to clean it up did not help, either. Even the man who has written some of the best scripts to some of the best films in the past 20 years could not save this disaster. Let’s hope for better things from Scott when The Martian and Prometheus 2 hits theaters in the future. Save your money and rent Otto Preminger’s 1960 masterpiece, Exodus with Paul Newman and Eva Marie Saint. You could even find the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s terrific, under rated film about the birth of Israel, Kingdom Of Heaven. The director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven is considerably longer than the theater cut, but the extended cut is more complete. Lush and exciting filled with all of the passion, power and majesty that is lacking in this version of Exodus. Kingdom of Heaven is a masterpiece. Avoid Exodus: Gods and Kings like the plague.
Exodus: Gods and Kings- * out of 5
Exodus: Gods and Kings- Rated PG13 for violence and adult situations
Exodus: Gods and Kings- Run Time is 150 minutes