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Exodus: Gods and Kings
Genre Adventure
 
Review:

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a new action adventure drama from Ridley Scott based on the book of Exodus and retold from the perspective of a sibling rivalry. Instead of casting Russell Crowe for the third time, after Robin Hood and his former glory, Gladiator, Scott has enticed Christian Bale to play his hero, Moses.

Crowe played a cruel mix of Noah for Darren Aronofsky in a similarly poised Biblical epic. Scott's sword-and-sandals action-adventure turns Moses into a warrior half-prince, whose battlefield prowess creates a debt-debtor relationship with his power-hungry brother, whose blood lines put him in line to be Pharoah.

Christian Bale adds some clout to the character, who while not known for his charm, adds some steely-eyed conviction to Moses. He's been made to be more cynical, wrestling with God's plan for him and churning out a Moses, who while admirable isn't particularly likable.

As an audience, we're clamouring for a man of the people, someone whose leadership is earned and not seized. Unfortunately, while Bale brings an interesting edge to Moses, we're never really rooting for the rugged warrior and indoctrinated Egyptian royal. Bale is a stoic, but there's a missing link when it comes to engaging with his reluctant servant of God.

Without an inspiring lead, we look to our villain Ramses. While Joel Edgerton does well with his lot, he's always playing catch-up as a Sheriff of Nottingham type ruler. Without particularly strong or absorbing performances, we fall back on Ridley Scott's treatment of Exodus: Gods and Kings.

The film feels crammed - delivering the content of a potential trilogy in the 150 minute run time. By trying to keep the quick pacing, we lose some of the nuances of the drama, making it seem like a Bible-inspired whirlwind of CGI. Perhaps a TV series would have been a better way to extrapolate the drama, instead of opting for the "highlights reel".

The quality production values and talent of Exodus: Gods and Kings make up for a number of shortfalls. The solid cast includes: Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, Aaron Paul and John Turturro, who take on smaller supporting roles to add weight to the ensemble.

The CGI while relentless and jam-packed at times, is convincing enough to carry the grand God moments, which have been grounded in the realm of possibility to appease the skeptics and unchurched. The God encounters have been handled quite creatively and ambiguously, taking some license with His representation.

This Old Testament epic is on par with Robin Hood and Noah in terms of its overall effect. It's a mixed bag, performing adequately in most departments, but not finding a strong connection with its audience. The controversy surrounding the casting further smears its overall standing, making it lean on the quality of its individual ingredients over its attempt at a "spellbinding" composition of them.

The bottom line: Watchable


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