film review

Review | Exodus: Gods and Kings – 2014

After a prophecy has been made, all the Hebrew boys born in a certain year are killed. Moses is the only boy who lives, since his mother saved her son by setting him adrift in a basket on the Nile. Baby Moses is found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, who decides to adopt the boy. This part is not shown in the film, only talked about.

Exodus: Gods and Kings starts when the grown up Prince Moses is now a General and prepares to attack the Hittite army with Prince Ramesses, the future Pharaoh. Again a prophecy has been made and this time the one who saves the other will become a leader. During their battle against the Hittite army, Moses saves Ramesses which leaves them both troubled. Moses will indeed become a great leader and his job is to rise up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses and lead the 600,000 Hebrew slaves out of Egypt while escaping from the deadly plagues.Exodus gods and kings tsunami 500pxThe first time I heard about this film, I immediately thought about The Ten Commandments from 1956 and hoped it would be just as good. This film also shows Moses’ quest and the famous plagues from Egypt. I’ve never read the Bible, but seeing Biblical stories on-screen always fascinates me. Exodus: Gods and Kings is directed by Ridley Scott, who has made some great films like: Gladiator, Alien and Prometheus. The stars of the film are Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramesses. Smaller roles are for Aaron Paul, Ben Kinglsey and Sigourney Weaver. It was also nice to see some familiar faces from Game of Thrones: Indira Varma as the High Priestess and Tara Fitzgerald as Moses’ sister Miriam. When you look at all these names something troubles me a bit. I understand that you need big names to get a film financed, but none of these lead characters are of Egyptian or Hebrew descent or even have the looks of it. There’s nothing wrong with the acting but it would have been nice to actually see a true Egyptian Ramesses. What Ridley Scott had to say about it shows that things need to chance in the film industry.

“I can’t mount a film of this budget…and say that my lead actor is Mohammad so-and-so from such-and-such…I’m just not going to get financed”

But the true thing which bothered me, was the story itself. For those who are not familiar with the biblical story, the film might be a bit indecipherable. Since they don’t actually show the story behind Moses – how and why he has come to Egypt and why he calls Ramesses his brother – it’s sometimes hard to understand who he truly is, since he also doesn’t know it himself. The reason of Moses’ exile is therefore also vague. I know the underlying story, but for those who doesn’t it seems a bit rushed. Regarding the plagues there’s also something I didn’t really like. The plagues are all told in the Bible but there’s no true evidence for it. When you say you’re making a Biblical film but then change these plagues and find natural causes for these so-called miracles, I’m not buying it. If you  – Ridley Scott – make a film out of a Biblical story then use the plagues described in the Bible and not make up your ‘own’ theories. It seemed logic how Scott did it, but I understand why some religious people weren’t that happy. I can forgive Scott since it looked pretty amazing! The crocodiles were really freaky, but I missed the parting of the Red Sea and the Eclipse. In the film it was more of scary shadow you could see in a horror film! The representation of God, in the form of a little boy, was downright idiotic. After some research I found out this was not God. The young boy was Malak: an Angel and messenger from God.Exodus gods and kingsLike I mentioned before, there’s nothing wrong with the acting skills of the main characters. But because of the thin screenwriting there was also a lack of character development. Ramesses mother – played by Sigourney Weaver – wants Moses dead, that’s for sure. But how good is the relationship between Moses and Ramesses and between Moses and his sister Miriam and their adopted mother? The weirdest thing is that those three all got exiled but they don’t stick together. That’s weird right? Between Moses’ exile and the start of his quest is nine years. First he wanted to get married and have a son. He doesn’t believe in anything, just like he didn’t believe the story of slave Nun (Ben Kingsley) about his true lineage. But when he ‘meets’ God, Moses goes on a quest to get every Hebrew slave out of Egypt. But God has plans when Ramesses doesn’t co-operate: Plagues. Some of those plagues are very cruel, in my opinion! But those plagues, true or false, were very well visualised. Just like all special effects: the tsunami, the crocodiles, the buildings. Everything looked very nice! The ending of the film is also very vague and I think it’s a shame they didn’t really show us the Ten Commandments. We see Moses writing’ them but that’s all.

The setting of the Biblical film Exodus: Gods and Kings looks very nice. The buildings, the landscapes, the characters, the plagues are all very plausible. However the script itself is a bit thin, lacks proper character development and for those who doesn’t know the background story, a bit indecipherable. The film is not quite accurate and I really missed the parting of the Red Sea. Scott found a more natural reason for it and therefore used a tsunami in the film. For me it’s not really a deal breaker, but I can understand why religious people wouldn’t like that. Just as the fact that Scott used white people in the lead roles, instead of true Egyptians. The film’s score – composed by Alberto Iglesias – is really beautiful though!


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