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Film Review: More bark than bite

There’s a lot to like about Exodus: Gods and Kings. The visuals, the sheer scale of the effects, and the acting all stand out.

By Jean-Pierre Mestanza

Saturday 13 December 2014, 11:00AM

Even still, I walked out of the theatre more than dissappointed at how such a film, as beautifully shot as it is, could still have a story that decides to drag on until next year.

This interpretation of the exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt, related in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, is far reaching and too fragmented for it to be “so bad, it’s good”.

Instead, this is just bad with actors who, while delivering solid performances, have a makeup job that is just plain different from scene to scene. Australian actor Joel Edgerton, portraying the villainous Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses II, at times looks like he’s truly Middle Eastern and other times he looks just plain tanned and out of place. Same too with Ben Mendelsohn’s Hegep character, as he looks much darker when introduced to the audience than in the rest of the film.

It’s no secret that Exodus: Gods and Kings was criticised for having white actors portray darker-skinned characters. With that aside, Cristian Bale’s portrayal of Moses could haved fooled any blind person. In this film, Moses is a family man, a military general and deeply devoted but flawed with an internal identity conflict because of his background and upbringing.

Moses isn’t at all concerned with the plight of the Hebrews early on, until he learns that he is one of them. Bale’s Moses remains relatable all throughout the movie, with his human faults allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions about who this man ultimately became.


Past films about the exodus or Moses begin with the baby in the basket story. Ridley Scott, however, begins with Moses as a general and somewhat of a brother to Prince Ramesses. When the Pharaoh and their father-figure Seti I dies, Ramesses is elevated to emperor. Later, he banishes Moses after learning that he is in fact Hebrew. Moses eventually has a fateful encounter with God and the rest, as they say, is history (literally).

By far the best part of the film is when the ten plagues ravage Egypt and water turns to blood, darkness blankets the land, and more. There’s a frightening element to each plague that rivals the best horror films. Because of this, the highly-anticipated scene of the parting of the Red Sea is more than underwhelming and loooks like CGI decided to have a slumber party with the film.

Overall, Exodus is well-made but has too many flaws to give it more than one watch. It’s worth the admission to watch the ten plagues, but that’s about it. It lacks the emotional depth that the real story has and fails to live up to seemingly realistic expectations.

Gods and Kings

Christian Bale,
Joel Edgerton,
John Turturro,
Aaron Paul,
Ben Mendelsohn,
Ben Kingsley, and Sigourney Weaver
Ridley Scott
Running time:
150 minutes



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