Movie Review - Exodus: Gods and Kings

Christian Bale stars as Moses, a supposed, Egyptian warrior who is living in the lap of luxury as the adopted son of the Pharoah. He resides in a beautiful palace built by Hebrew slaves and with Hebrew slaves at his beck-and-call. Up until now, he's had no problem with slavery. He sees a slave being whipped one day and he doesn't give it a second thought. He keeps going about his business.

Things change when he's told by a Hebrew slave, played by Ben Kingsley, that Moses is not an Egyptian. He's actually Hebrew like all the slaves. Too bad, it's not something that one can tell by looking. Bale doesn't look Middle Eastern of any kind, but then again neither do any of the actors playing Egyptian here.

Moses being Hebrew doesn't go well with the heir to the throne, Moses' brother named Ramses, played by Joel Edgerton (Warrior and The Great Gatsby). Ramses has Moses exiled. Moses has a rough time, but eventually finds himself a wife and a place to settle and he's fine. Still, he has no care for the Hebrew slaves he left behind.

It's not until he gets a visit from a little boy claiming to be God does Moses start to reconsider things. Until then, Moses had been rather atheistic. From that point, it becomes about God pushing and really bullying Moses into freeing the Hebrew slaves.

Moses decides to put a knife to Ramses' throat and is somehow surprised when that tactic doesn't work. Ramses then spends the rest of the movie trying to kill Moses. Moses hides among the Hebrews who protect him. There's no explanation as to why. He never really shares the fact that he talks to God. It's something they presume without any real articulation of it, and they endure Ramses' reign of terror and death, as innocent Hebrews are slaughtered in the search for Moses.

It gets to a point that the Hebrews start to fight back. It's weird because despite being slaves, they still have the ability to plot and coordinate bombings and fires. Director Ridley Scott never properly establishes geography and boundaries that would have us understand how that works. We never feel the true structure of this world, which essentially is a whole country but limited to one city.

It's also odd to think about the Hebrews setting off bombs in Egypt. The Hebrews essentially commit terrorist attacks. It's odd to think about how it's a precursor to the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts, except it's a reversal of roles for the Hebrews. I'm sure the Israelis would argue what the Hebrews did and why are not comparable to what the Palestinians are doing and why.

Either way, the terrorist attacks aren't enough. Little boy as God has to intervene. The movie is faithful to the Bible as to the plagues that befall Egypt. Sadly, the movie makes no steps to explain or justify these plights. If this really is God, he could just snap his fingers and teleport all the Hebrews out of slavery or flood Egypt.

The plagues become comical as Scott portrays them. Then, by the end, the conflict that builds between Moses and Ramses doesn't come to a head in a satisfying way. The two are kept apart for so long that we cease to care. The real conflict is between Moses and little boy as God but a question of a hallucination or an actual conversation with a deity is never debated or explored.

If nothing else, Joel Edgerton looks really sexy holding a snake!

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated PG-13 for violence including battle sequences and intense images.
Running Time: 2 hrs. and 22 mins.


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