When making movies rooted in religion, it’s pretty hard to deviate from a predetermined narrative…
|Christian Bale as Moses|
|Joel Edgerton as Ramesses The Great|
|John Tuturro as Pharoah Seti 1|
|Ben Kingsley as Nun|
|Aaron Paul as Joshua|
|with Maria Valverde as Zipporah|
|and Indira Varma as The High Priestess|
So movies based on biblical events are, in general, not particularly interesting, since the story has already been set in stone (and verse, and paper, etc.) for centuries. On the other hand, Exodus: Gods and Kings aims to move the narrative every so slightly into the realms of making you wonder whether or not the events of Exodus in The Bible have a cause rooted in nature, or in the divine.
Moses has been raised as a member of the Egyptian royal family, a cousin to the heir of the throne, Ramesses and a well known general in the army. From the outset, there is a rivalry between the two, but also a lot of love. The rivalry is down to the soon to expire Pharoah Seti, who explains he actually prefers Moses to sit on the throne rather than his son. Of course, that’s not possible!
In preparations for an attack against a Hittite army on its way to do no good in Egypt, a prophecy is made that one of the two generals leading the attack, Moses and Ramesses will save the other and in doing so will become a true leader. In short order, the prophecy where Moses saves Ramessses becomes fulfilled and the heir to the throne is immediately suspicious of what may occur as a result. The rest of the story, well, you’re probably very familiar with already.
Exodus is a typical biblical action movie, lots of brawn, black and white characters and good and bad guys with no in between. It’s a movie that’s hamstrung by the narrative, which doesn’t allow much, if any, fiddling with the way things occur.
On the other hand, what Exodus does really well, is allow the audience to come up with their own conclusions about whether Moses was lucky or really assisted by divinity. Where there are ten disasters that befall Egypt in The Bible, Exodus makes do with less disasters, but ones that follow each other as a series of ecological disasters that could logically occur in sequence.
Similarly, Moses can be seen to be talking to himself, which in modern medicine would be a sign of insanity, but in 1300BC, it is a sign that he is chosen by God. Whatever works. His greatest work, of course, that famous incident in which the Red Sea was parted for the Hebrews on their way to Canaan, is depicted simply as a receding of the waters that appear to be a result of a tsunami somewhere else. It’s up to you to choose whether to believe the biblical explanation or not.
On the brighter side of things, the computer graphics used to bring Ancient Egypt to life are magnificent, as is the costuming of the characters. We’ve all seen many iterations of Ancient Egypt, but none quite as spectacular as this.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is a biblical action movie that follows a well trodden path. Yes, the characters are pretty boring, but the action is surprisingly spectacular and it’s a story that should be familiar enough to the audience that not much explanation should be required. A passable holiday movie.
A good pre-Christmas diversion from the commercialised feeding frenzy of shopping.
Watch this if you…
Need a dose of action movie mayhem to help you cope with the masses in shopping centres
Don’t watch this if you…
Have a literal interpretation of The Bible. Seriously, this will probably make you angry.