Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.Written by
20th Century Fox
The funeral service for the old Pharaoh seems to be taking place in Abu Simbel - this was built during the reign of Ramses II, so couldn't exist yet when his father dies. The battle of Kadesh was later in his reign not before he became Pharaoh. See more »
It's not any one thing especially that is particularly so wrong with Exodus: Gods and Kings, but an overall gloom and doom that befalls the film, the deadly serious tone, that keeps it from reaching to a higher plain of epic-filmmaking existence. Scott takes this tale SO seriously, indeed, that he has things like a stern-faced child as the voice of the "I Am". Which is fine, except that there is nary a moment of any kind of other emotion from this child actor throughout than of whining. At least when Scorsese had a child as a 'God'-like being in Last Temptation of Christ it was for a shorter period of time, and for a more specific purpose. If there was a point to be made about this child as a "God" - perhaps as his way of criticizing religion as the God of the Old Testament being a brutal eight year-old - it could have had an impact... if the rest of the film around it wasn't so thuddeningly dull.
Why is this so dull? When you have this much money at your disposal, you got to try to make as much of a HUMAN connection, to make the drama really stand out (this was something another filmmaker in 2014, Aronofsky with Noah, actually understood and really made palpable and intense amid the spectacle). Or, go the other way into broad and campy material. Scott is just there to shoot a lot of this much the way he did Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood - in other words, substitute out the pyramids with colisseums, or castles, or other things, and you'd have similar hyper-kinetic action (sometimes but not always too fast) and actors who are well-trained and versed and there to do the work, but not much more.
Actually, those other films, even Robin Hood, would be preferable to sit through again than Exodus. There's just no joy or excitement to the filmmaking; the closest part where it really gets engaging and exciting and full of 'Wow' material are the plagues. Those work well, just as eye-candy. People in the cast like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, as Moses and Ramses respectively, are giving it their all - or as much as the script is asking them too, which is pretty similar relatively scene to scene (Ramses rarely is anything other than a "God"-type d***head). But other actors are completely wasted amid the scenery and effects: Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul, Ben Kingsley, they're only there to look on with awe and "huh" moments, or deliver exposition glumly. Ewen Bremmer, of all actors, as the sort of court-jester-summarizer of the plagues steals the show far as supporting players go.
It's all just flat, monotonous story-telling, and for all of those moments - that mid-section with the plagues - that are visually striking and cool-looking, there's still not much investment with the characters. We know how this will play out, but what do Scott and his screenwriters do to add anything extra aside from that been-there-done-that "lived-in" dirty quality? Uh... extra violence (albeit just up to the line of R-rated)? An opening battle? For all of the intensity of the two main actors, and the tremendous special effects, it's practically wasted on a story that is 90 minutes shorter than DeMille's 1956 Ten Commandments, feels long and sluggishly paced - this despite the fact that certain other characters who could add some human dimension (like Moses' wife) are underdeveloped and under-utilized. Just put the actor there, prop-like, shoot, go on with the next scene.
Where's a good 'Golden Calf' sequence when you really need one?
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