There seems to be a decent handful of people who simply don't like this film, although there's only a handful of reviews/reactions actually out there. No matter what your opinion on this film is, at least we can all agree that it's better than the proposed Gladiator 2, which saw Russell Crowe's character fighting his way through the afterlife in an attempt to return to Earth. And yes, that was almost made. Exodus: Gods and Kings is based on the biblical tale of Moses (Christian Bale), the adopted brother of Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (Joel Edgerton). After being exiled from his brother's kingdom, Moses returns a number of years later in the hopes of setting free all the Hebrew slaves.
If I were to describe Exodus: Gods and Kings in just one word, that word would be epic. This film is undoubtably and undeniably an epic. The story of Moses and the Ten Commandments is up there as one of the most interesting and large scale biblical stories available, and so it would've been rather disappointing if the film adaptation didn't capture this scale. While some adaptations do and others don't, I'm talking about this one and so the others don't matter right now. We need more epics to come from Hollywood. Epics like this. Their scales are enormous, and their budgets suit. Exodus: Gods and Kings is the greatest epic we've had in a number of years, and the best biblical movie too.
I'm not one to complain about whether or not an actor has the appropriate skin colour for the role, as many have complained about with this, and so it doesn't bother me one bit that both Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale star in leading roles. Their performances are brilliant, just brilliant. During the first few scenes we see of them, they have great chemistry. Their relationship is believable and it was entertaining to watch on screen, although it turns out I'd seen nothing yet. As the film progresses their relationship is torn apart, forcing the two to become enemies. That's when both of their performances step it up a level.
Their scenes together are ecstatic. Well, for the audience at least. Watching the two talents on screen is nothing but exciting. You can really get a sense of their rivalry and hatred; it oozes off screen. The scenes where they're apart are just as fantastic too. In fact, I would even argue that they're better. They each get their time to shine and in these moments of fame they just give it their all. They have the spotlight and they intend on keeping it.
The supporting cast, however, are more of a varied bunch. It's not that the talent isn't there, it's more that they're not used enough. Ben Kingsley's character is forgotten about halfway through the film and Sigourney Weaver only has about three lines. Plus John Turturro's character is completely irrelevant to the story at hand, but that's not too big a loss. It's a pleasantry to see them on screen, but this joy is soon stolen as their characters are tossed aside and left mummified. Hey, at least we have Aaron Paul's best post-Breaking Bad performance to date.
The visuals are stunning, but they come in second place when compared to the set design. I'm not saying that the special effects aren't f**king amazing, as they are, but they're not as gratifying as the sets. The locations and the set pieces and the costumes of this film help to make it the epic that it is. I can't stop calling this film an epic, but it really is. Epics make me happy, deal with it. But by far, the greatest technological achievement that this film has to offer is the red sea scene. The effects alone got my heart racing.
This scene may be awe-inspiring to look at, but it's also slightly underwhelming. I take that back actually. The whole sea chase itself is far from underwhelming, but instead it's actually highly thrilling. It's how the sea parts that's underwhelming. For all those who know of this classic bible story, they'll know that Moses, using his staff, parts the red sea for the hebrews to cross. Unfortunately, there's not even a stuff in Exodus: Gods and Kings. In fact, Moses doesn't even part the red sea. It just kinda drifts away with the tide. This is a more realistic approach to the story, but it's not as exciting.
Ridley Scott has been a hit and miss director as of late. In his glory days, Scott rarely failed. In more recent years this hasn't been the case. Just last year he greeted us with a god-awful movie (I didn't actually intend on referring to God in a review of a religious movie, but I'll go with it) known as The Counselor, but it's best to forget about that film. Exodus shows us that he's back on track, giving us some directing that's almost on par with classics such as Alien. Yep, I just put Exodus: Gods and Kings up against Alien, which is one of my all time favourite movies. I'm sure this will promptly be followed by the destruction of man-kind. Oh wait, we already saw that in the other biblical movie that was released this year, didn't we?
To sum up, Exodus: Gods and Kings offers more practical effects and sets than it does generated ones, old school directing from Ridley Scott, sensational performances all round and the film's on a scale that's beyond epic. 2014 marks the return of bible movies and I'm more than happy about that.