The Ten Commandments is such an iconic film, with the performances of Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, as well as the direction Cecil B. Demille being astonishing. It’s this reason that I believe there has never been a big budget Moses film, as though there have been a couple of animated films, as well as some TV series, there has never been anything on this scale. So when I heard that Ridley Scott would indeed be tackling this biblical tale, I questioned whether he could bring the same level of epicness he brought to Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven to this classic.
Having grown up like brothers, Ramesses and Moses are destined to be entangled in bitter rivalry. Having been revealed to be nothing more than a Hebrew slave, Moses is quickly banished by the new Pharaoh, scouring the desert to find a new home. Having eventually succeeded in this, Moses finds a new life, creating a family for himself. But when he is approached by God, Moses must return to his former life, marching back to Egypt with one goal; saving his people.
Though Ridley Scott may be known for such classics as Gladiator, Alien and Blade Runner, his recent contribution to the world of cinema has been rather underwhelming, with Robin Hood, Prometheus and The Counselor all being less than stellar (especially the latter). Unfortunately this seems to be a continuing trend for the director, as though Exodus: Gods and Kings isn’t terrible, it is most certainly disappointing. Despite being far from terrible, Exodus: Gods and Kings is riddled with problems, as apart from the literal inaccuracy, the storytelling itself leaves a lot to be desired. Feeling very disjointed throughout, the script takes the wonderful story that Moses lead, and focused purely on certain part. This ultimately lead to many key moments of the characters history feeling rushed, and at times overlooked altogether.
The acting also felt a bit mediocre, as though the actors performances themselves were all to a high standard, there were too many high profile names that were underutilised, with some of the key characters from the Moses story feeling nothing more than extras. Moses himself however is front and centre, as he should be, with Christian Bale giving a fantastic portrayal. The way that he shows the characters initial scepticism, as well as his emotional drive was truly captivating, being the highlight of the film. Joel Edgerton also gives a marvellous performance as Ramesses II, with his sternness, and regality being shown throughout. He is however much like the remaining cast members underused, with the film focusing a little too much on Moses. Sir Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul also star as Nun, Tuya and Joshua respectively, and though when given the chance, they show their skills, they are very much sidelined throughout.
Though I have given a rather negative review so far, Exodus: Gods and Kings wasn’t completely terrible, with there being some positives. The main one for me has to be the way the script writers, and Scott used the plagues, as though there may be some controversial factors surrounding the literal accuracy, I was glad at the plagues they showcased. I also loved the way they build the relationship of Moses and Ramesses, with the conflict of love and hatred being brilliantly balanced. The film also gets some drama and suspense from its score, as though the music from Alberto Iglesias isn’t overly memorable, it does give some atmosphere to what otherwise is a rather bleak film.
Exodus: Gods and Kings definitely won’t be remembered as one of the great biblical films from the 21st Century, as though Noah trumps it as worst biblical film of the year, Exodus itself isn’t that much better. Due to this I can’t recommend this film, as no matter how much I initially wanted to like the film, there is very little to take away from the finished product.