‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Movie Review – Bale’d Out
Having a particular style can usually be seen as a good thing. Without knowing who is directing a movie, you can sometimes just tell it was made by a certain filmmaker. However, that doesn’t mean that’s always the case; sometimes being obvious can be a bad thing. In Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings, it isn’t obvious just who made it; however, it is extremely – and unfortunately – obvious a Hollywood filmmaker was in control of the development. Despite another great performance by Christian Bale, Gods and Kings has a much bigger title (and vision) than final product.
Even when you take away how Hollywood-ized (or, put more bluntly, how “white-washed”) the movie is, there are plenty of things to find wrong.
Based on The Book of Exodus in the Old Testament, the biblically-inspired story focuses on Moses (played by Bale) and his sort-of brother Ramesses (played by Joel Edgerton). After a not-so-amiable split, the two go separate ways. Ramesses takes over his father’s empire while Moses, now knowing he’s one of Ramesses’ archenemies, goes back to his people.
Based on that description, you’d think I’m giving a lot of the movie away but that’s really just the first twenty minutes of a two hour and twenty minute film. The rest of the movie splits time revisiting this tension while also showing Moses transform into God’s messenger. It’s a story most people know, religious or not.
Gods and Kings hinges on the idea that you buy and/or care about the relationship between Moses and Ramesses. Like I mentioned earlier, Bale is easy to follow and ultimately care about. It’s Edgerton (whether performance or just character) that is harder to care for. It’s probably meant to be Moses’ story but any good character conflict acknowledges both sides.
I think it’s really easy to compare this movie to the other biblical epic of 2014, Noah, which does a much better job of creating tension. In Noah, he has to deal with ostracizing his family and following God’s vision in a situation that makes him look utterly insane. There’s a similar set-up in Gods and Kings, and the movie is definitely at its best when he’s questioning God’s vision.
However, that’s not entirely what the movie goes for and it has a tough time creating this identify from the beginning.
It’s certainly easy to point to the pacing as the culprit. It’s understandable that a movie of this magnitude inevitably has to have a jump in time. The story isn’t going to take place in the span of a year or two. However, the script still doesn’t have a very good sense of time and, like I mentioned earlier, can’t seem to figure out its own conflict.
Exodus: Gods and Kings starts with only enough momentum to keep the story going for a limited amount of time. Eventually, it runs out of steam somewhere near the halfway point in its bloated runtime. If you can keep yourself awake (something I’m not exaggerating about) long enough for the third act, the movie does pull itself out of the fire but only because it’s bailed out by a secondary conflict and, pun-intended, Bale’s performance. At that point, however, it’s far too late to consider this any better than decent.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is out in wide release now. Check it out and sound off below.
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