Review: Exodus Gods and Kings

Last Updated on August 5, 2021

See Chris Bumbray's Video Review HERE

PLOT: Ridley Scott’s epic telling of Moses and his rise against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. It is a defiant and perilous adventure which led to the escape and freedom of 600,000 slaves from the ruling class of Egypt.

REVIEW: Ridley Scott is no stranger to massive, sprawling epic tales. In EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS he brings to life the story of Moses and his conquest to free 600,000 slaves from the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. And on several occasions, this immense cinematic endeavor reaches impressive heights. Never before has an audience witnessed the parting of the Red Sea quite like this. Yet even with such a spectacular visual achievement, the story as a whole is at times cold and lackluster. While this may feature such talented actors as Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton duke it out under Biblical proportions, this somber telling fails to truly achieve what the story is capable of.

Most of you are probably all too familiar with the story which EXODUS follows. Moses (Bale) has always been near a brother to Ramses (Edgerton). They ride out to battle together, and Moses risks his life to save him during a massive attack on the Hittites. However, when the powerful Pharaoh discovers the true lineage of his comrade in arms there is a clear conflict. It is one that leaves the stunned Moses banished from the place he called home. Years later, while in the desert, far from his old life he is witness to a burning bush and a boy called Malak who is a representation of God. The All Mighty explains to Moses what must be done to save those who live by His word. This leads to the epic quest to free the Hebrew slaves from the tyrannical hold which Ramses keeps on them.

This is an expansive and timeless story, one that is ripe for a director like Scott to put to screen. And to be fair, you have to applaud the filmmaker for attempting to take a more personal approach. This is really the story of two men, both struggling with their beliefs, as well as their brotherly love for another. As big as this gets, it always returns to Ramses and Moses. The script – credited to Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian – attempts to balance between the bold and exciting cinematic experience without sacrificing the individual aspect. Unfortunately this has a tendency to lessen the impact of the events, and strangely enough it nearly makes Ramses the more sympathetic character.

For all the plagues and horrors subjected on the Egyptian people, the atrocities they commit are far too briefly shown, or simply implied. Aside from a couple of quick sequences involving public hangings it is no match for the haunting image of the Egyptian’s first born children breathing their last breathe. That doesn’t even include the frogs, the flies, and the river turning red. Of course if you are subscribe to the story, it is impossible to fully understand and support Ramses. But within the film, especially with the representation of God, the young boy (Isaac Andrews) is a sometimes unintentionally humorous and frustrating choice. The All Mighty as a bratty child only seems to take away from the impact of the message sent.

The real power here is the recreation of such iconic and well known Biblical events. As mentioned, the horrific plagues, the parting of the Red Sea and a couple of vicious battles are all executed brilliantly. When alligators begin attacking men on their boats it is a scary sight to behold. As the horrors escalate, you can’t take your eyes off the exceptional use of 3D, as well as some seriously haunting images. Scott is a visionary when it comes to such cinematic events.

When it comes to the casting controversy, this isn’t the first time a feature film such as this takes a few liberties when it comes to the ethnicity of the characters. And yes, it won’t be the last. It is highly unlikely that a movie of this magnitude would take such risks. For all intents and purposes, both Bale and Edgerton are very good here. My only major casting issue happened to be with Sigourney Weaver, and to a lesser extent Aaron Paul. Both are very good, so why not utilize their talents more. However it may be a safe assumption that their roles are expanded in a director’s cut.

EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS has all the makings of a phenomenally impressive telling of Moses. The score by Alberto Iglesias is suitable, if not slightly underwhelming, and the visuals are stunning. Scott’s latest is filled with his immensely powerful and stirring images, and it attempts a very unique approach to the oft-told tale, yet it is only a mildly satisfying movie going experience. Too often it is dull and humorless with very little color or charisma. For those looking for a better than average Biblical feature, I guess you could say this is slightly better than average… but only slightly.


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.