Exodus: Gods and Kings
Exodus: Gods and Kings
(Ridley Scott, 2014)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Ridley Scott's most coherent epic in years, 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' is a film for thrillseekers and thinkers alike.
'Exodus: Gods and Kings' is a fitting title for Ridley Scott's Moses story. It's less interested in the man himself but more concerned with the division between the two higher powers that ruled the people of the time - gods and kings.
The history is rich in Scott's film, even more so than in 'Gladiator'. This is a time when the pyramids were being built and material excess was at a boom. Wars are raging, slaves are driven, divisions are extreme.
Scott takes his time to invest in this, laying a solid groundwork before all of the well-tread elements of the Moses story come into play - the locusts, frogs, burning bushes and parting of the sea have to wait until a brotherly rivalry is established between Christian Bale's God-doubting man of the people Moses and Joel Edgerton's God-ignoring ruler Ramses. Bale's character arc is wonderfully handled but it's Edgerton's theatrical scenary-chewing that really steals the show.
John Turturro, Ben Mendelsohn, Ewen Bremner and Ben Kingsley add colourful and somewhat flamboyant support in Scott's impressive extended cast that somehow manages to waste the talents of Sigourney Weaver (who lurks in the shadows of important scenes) and Aaron Paul (who watches Moses talk to himself). It's as if Weaver and Paul had bigger, better characters that didn't make the final cut. (The likelihood of an extended version on Blu-ray is high for Scott who never seems satisfied with his theatrical cuts.)
Indeed, 'Exodus' is a film that has so much going on that it's hard to get it all in. A lesser director would struggle to balance the 'Ben Hur' style action sequences, 'Life of Brian' religious debates with the 'Last Temptation of Christ'-esque internal toil. Scott hasn't been this coherent in years. It's his most complex narrative and his most visually stunning since 'Blade Runner'.
'Exodus: Gods and Kings' is a film with something to say. Scott's mammoth studio budget allows him to shout it. What is loses in subtlety it gains in sheer entertainment.