Directed by Ridley Scott
How do you bring to the big screen a fresh take on a story that even agnostics know like the back of their hand?
Defying the ruling classes, Hebrews pray to God for salvation and in return a barrage of plagues sweep over Egypt, with only the believers spared, culminating in Moses’s triumphant parting of the Red Sea enabling him to shepherd the Hebrews to safety in their promised land.
In the case of Ridley Scott, you do it with as much pomp and ceremony as can be mustered.
Following on from Russell Crowe’s epic performance as the deeply troubled family man in Darren Aronofsky‘s Noah earlier in 2014, Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Rhamses turn on inspired performances to make Exodus both a tight drama and a riveting spectacle.
It’s hard to top family conflict as a motivating force for characters in film, and with Moses and Rhamses raised as brothers, their competitive spirit fuels their mutual win-at-all-costs mentality.
The film open with barbarians at the gates. While not strictly true, the savage hoards are close enough to warrant an excursion to slaughter as many of their number as possible. When it is foretold by one of the Pharaoh’s mystics that a future ruler will have his life saved in the battle, both Moses and Rhamses are on edge as to who might be the “future ruler”.
The film becomes a more intimate affair until the plague scenes arrive in a river of blood.
If you can view this film not strictly as a religious story, but also as an action extravaganza, then you’re in for a great ride.
If you have a deep allegiance to any faith associated with Moses and his ilk, you may have issues with an 11 year old boy playing the role of God. I thought it was an inspired way to handle the role.
For me it is one of the most entertaining films of the year that delivers what it promises in the trailer – action, a great story, marquee actors I love and a climactic ending. It is most definitely a great role for Joel Edgerton and he is brilliant as Rhamses, channelling Yul Brynner‘s Moses from the 1956 Cecil B. DeMille classic The Ten Commandments.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is a must-see on the big screen and the 3D is vivid and exceptional in the action sequences. For the more low-key dramatic parts of the film it unfortunately chiefly served to make my eyes a little bleary.
It’s a long film, but engrossing throughout. Definitely worth the price of admission.