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Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Exodus: Gods and Kings (Ridley Scott) - Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Sigourney Weaver, Ben KingsleyLet my people go to Hollywood...

Overall Grade: C
Story: C-
Acting: B-
Direction: C
Visuals: A

Summary:  Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton try to lead this film out of the slavery of Hollywood cliché, but unlike the protagonist and the Hebrew people of the story, this project starves in the wilderness of dry, empty characters and thoughtless dialog just before drowning from poor direction amidst of a sea of dazzling CGI.

Full Review: Exodus. More than just being an iconic narrative of faith, it is the epic of freedom and struggle, representative of individuals, peoples, and cultures across history and across the world. Envisioning such an epic requires true thought, true vision. Either try for something revolutionary or keep to the story and make it work on the level of character development. Ridley Scott does neither and fails big. The acting, characters and story-line were weak. I fault the director for taking what is basically the major epic narrative of 3 world religions and treating the project like he was distracted and just trying to get it done.

The characters (in contrast to their historic epic) are all one-dimensional, predictable and unconvincing. They show no humanity- just stereotyped ransacking of what could have been thoughtful roles. Moses' character is turned into (like Darren Aronofsky's Noah) an educated, but basically psychotic, lunatic with luck on his side, who leads a military foment of slaves to an uprising. Along the way, lots of amazing things happen, that are all attributed to natural phenomena and don't hold anything like the narrative punctuation of the original book of the same title from the biblical text. Don't misunderstand me- I don't fault Ridley Scott for taking what is essentially an "enlightenment" stab at the Exodus work- no one who believes or considers the story in any sense "real" will likely accept his revision. But that is art. However, what is not art is the emotionless, boring, and even schmaltzy portrayal of characters that role across the silver screen.

Christian Bale does have the thoughtfulness to try to fill his dialog with some passion, but he is working with a script that feels as authentic as the $25 press board desk I put together when I was in college. Aaron Paul hardly has to earn his credentials for playing a passionate supporting role, but his part literally gave him nothing to work with. Sigourney Weaver seethes of contempt as she literally looks like she'd rather be infested by an alien than say the lines she was handed out. Joel Edgerton seems like he took his role seriously, but his court is such a mockery that one has to wonder how he could hold any sense of presence in a such a vilified supporting staff. And finally John Turturro looks like he is about a half second away from cracking up laughing on literally ever single line. Ben Kingsley has a chance at being the one rock in the film, playing a sagely Jewish elder. But he is shoehorned into a few quick segments that give him no space to develop his character.

Here is my point- we all know the story. If you are going to rewrite it, you need do a better job in some aspect than the original. And if you are going to rely on atheist philosophy when you are telling the narrative of a creator God directing his chosen people, then at least have the presence of mind to use good art- develop some great characters, use thoughtful dialog, give us a human interest in the film.

I can't imagine this film made anyone happy other than the various unions who were employed in its production. Save your money. Wait for the Netflix/Amazon free stream or when it hits your local cable free movie feature.

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Review by Kim Gentes

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Reader Comments (2)

I'm not sure we saw the same movie. At the very least in spite of some disappointments I did find a number of things to like in Exodus.

Two other reviews, polar opposites from one another, both resonated with me. The Christianity Today one made a lot of sense to me but was far too sanguine, far too kind. Tampa Bay Times' Steve Persall, who is becoming one of my fave film critics, also made a lot of sense but seemed to me far too scathing.…/december-we…/exodus.html……/review-8216exodus-gods-an…/2209917 —

Have you started your Best Of 2014 list yet Kim? I always love seeing your insightful thoughts!

December 13, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterdarrell a. harris


Your point is well-taken. I definitely understand that my review is probably too negative for some folks, based on their likes/dislikes (and mine as well). I primarily fault the film for what I perceive to be a weak effort on a huge classical story. Wielding the power of historic narratives (such as Homer's classic works like the Iliad and Odyssey, biblical stories, and perhaps modern classics like Shakespeare or -for Americans- stories of great figures like Lincoln or the founding fathers) should be taken more seriously, in my opinion. Hollywood movie companies leverage these narratives for their broad appeal, but I feel as though they are simply ransacking them rather than doing them justice when they don't make the journey worth revisiting for the viewer.

Along with other things, I subscribe to the Stan Lee axiom for such movie reviews "With great power comes great responsibility", which is to say I expect much more of movies that wield these stories, and they are thus praised or castigated to a broader extent because of that...

December 15, 2014 | Registered CommenterKim Gentes

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