Cinematic Releases: Exodus - Gods and Kings

Ridley Scott brings his version of the Moses tale to cinemas this week.

"Ok, Yul Brynner. I'm not gonna
ask again. Where's the trigger?
Where is it? Where's the trigger?!!!"
As the Christmas season begins, Ridley Scott offers up a maligned theatrical excursion that goes for grandeur but ends up feeling short sighted in its presence of story and character. The tale of Exodus has been told before and Mr. Scott's definitely brings the thunder when it comes to effects, but much like his The Counselor, there is something off putting and cold about this movie. With actors like Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, it should have been a slam dunk Oscar contender. Yet, the movie stumbles through some incongruent editing, awful pacing, and lacks the backbone of a powerful script. 

Viewers are walked through the stunning biblical events with mind blowing visuals and massive set pieces, but it all seems for naught when Mr. Scott has forgotten the core ideal of movie making. It's called storytelling. And just like his Prometheus or The Counselor, Exodus is all over the map. Scenes feel chopped, actors seem distant, and most of all, his use of these top tier actors is put to little use as Edgerton never feels truly evil as Ramses and Bale seems mildly disconnected from this role. And please explain to me why everyone in Egypt speaks with a British accent. This is a standard for these movies that's altogether annoying, intolerable, and makes the movie less realistic than a man parting the Red Sea. 

"Fist. Beware it. For it has
defeated Bane and The Joker
before him."
It would be a bold faced lie to say there aren't any enjoyable moments in Exodus. The score is massive and the sound work throughout is great. The visuals are nothing short of breathtaking while audiences are treated to vast scene after glorious scene of marvelous looking battles and environments. But again, a film of this magnitude should rely on attention to story and character development. These are two things that Scott has struggled with for years now and it's a definite derogatory mark against a movie that's really  nice to look at. 

Unlike Aronofsky's Noah, Scott seems more dedicated to retelling the biblical tale of Moses and the salvation of his people without trying to piss off the religious sect. That's all fine and good but Exodus feels like he's trying his damnedest to stay within the confines of what might be considered safe. Other than the major battle scene, the apocalyptic imagery, and the sweeping shots of Egypt, Exodus is a stagnant Ten Commandments do over and is a sure fire way to keep the religious folks from revolting. 

"Now wait a second here.
Turtorro is Egyptian? All believability
just went out the window. Ahem."
Ridley Scott is the man that brought us epic movies like Gladiator, Alien, and Blade Runner. I'm not sure where he went but I wish he'd make a grand re-entrance with a movie that doesn't feel so unabashedly not attentive to character arc. His Exodus looks bigger and better than anything he's done before but it lacks the soul that made his earlier work so enjoyable. See it for the effects and the near spectacular third act.

I'm giving this a 6 out of 10 based on the visuals and sound design. If it were based on delivery of story and acting, it would be a 5.