With a title like Exodus: Gods and Kings, you can be pretty sure you know what you are going to get with this film; a biblical epic, complete with all the CGI trimmings available. With Ridley Scott at the helm, it’s a safe bet that the film will be reliably entertaining. In both instances, this is true. Exodus: Gods and Kings has all the right ingredients, it is very entertaining. And yet, it doesn’t quite come together.
Christian Bale takes on the role of Moses, Joel Edgerton plays Ramses, son of the current Pharaoh (John Turturro) and heir to the throne. Raised as cousins, the two men live and fight side by side for their Pharaoh and Egypt. When the high priestess offers a prediction that ‘a leader will be saved, the savior will lead’, a rift slowly develops between the two men. Moses saves Ramses in battle, and when it is revealed that Moses is in fact Hebrew and not an Egyptian, Ramses banishes Moses to wander the desert. Moses wanders, doesn’t die of thirst, meets a girl, discovers god. From here, god – in the form of a ten year old boy with a cockney accent – instructs Moses to return to Egypt to free the Hebrews enslaved for generations by the Pharaoh’s.
The first half of the film is strong, the pace is well set and there is a lightheartedness to the otherwise ominous tone. The actors, who give excellent performances, seem to be enjoying their roles. The second half of the film starts to falter. Unfortunately it is the script that lets this film down. Writers Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian seem to rely too heavily on the audiences’ prior knowledge of the bible and the Exodus story, either from The Ten Commandments, or simply from popular culture. The result is the storyline is at times quite vague. There is often the sense that something is missing in the script, at 150 minutes perhaps editing has left a few scenes out.
Despite this, there is a lot to like about Exodus: Gods and Kings. Costumes and make up are so impressive, it is worth it see the film for this alone. This is one of the better examples of CGI put to good use, and seeing the film in 3D is well worth a trip to the cinema. Performances are really sound, Ben Mendelsohn plays a corrupt government official with relish, he is cheeky and has a few particularly good moments. Sigourney Weaver and John Turturro appear as Ramses parents, both in fine form.
Standout performances are from Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton. Bale delivers his usual solid performance and gives Moses a wild edge, he reportedly wanted to give him a ‘schizophrenic’ quality and he does so in just the right measure. Joel Edgerton lets Ramses become gradually more demented and maniacal, he also looks amazing in kohl eyeliner.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is in Australian cinemas from 4 December through 20th Century Fox.