To address the elephant in the room, casting exclusively white people in a film about the Biblical exodus from Egypt is a particularly stupid move in the 21st century. Given the problematic history of Hollywood productions whitewashing Biblical characters in order to preserve the unfounded belief that Christian heroes were somehow whiter than the people of that time and place likely were, it is exceedingly inappropriate to misrepresent the racial diversity inherent in that setting. Hell, even casting Christian Bale as Moses is a stretch, considering exactly how NOT Jewish he looks. However, this film doesn’t need racial politics to drag it down, because the film’s poor execution does that well enough without any of the surrounding controversy.
Remember the plotline of The Ten Commandments or The Prince of Egypt? Well, lo and behold, we’re going to adopt that exact same interpretation of Exodus here again, right down to Moses and Pharaoh being adopted brothers, a detail that is ungrounded in the source material but is somehow now mandatory for film adaptation. And the film seems to know this on some level, because it devotes next to no effort in developing characters or interesting dialogue. Clocking in at two and a half hours, one would think that there would be some opportunity to know who these characters are, other than the stock versions of Moses and Ramses and various nameless supporting cast that we’ve seen so many times before. And yet, every actor’s performance is layered in so much haughty stoicism that everyone simply seems bored with the material, going through the motions so that we can justify the monumental Ten Plagues set-pieces.
Director Ridley Scott’s later career has been marred by emphasizing style over substance, crafting visually spectacular scenes with the latest computer technology but letting the story and characters necessary to make them impactful fall by the wayside. Exodus: Gods and Kings feels like the epitome of that sentiment, except now the visual spectacle doesn’t even rise to the bar of memorability that something like Prometheus attains. The most interesting thing Scott conjures for this film is an army of crocodiles to kill people and make the Nile bloody, thereby creating a uniquely realized reason for the waters to turn red. However, that is where the creativity starts and stops. Every other plague or miracle plays out pretty much exactly how you would expect, making the whole experience dry and dull, not to mention painfully drawn out.
Having just spent over two hours watching this piece of crap, I honestly can’t think of much more to say about it. It’s the Exodus story, but sucked dry of any emotional weight that would make the story interesting, with only computer generated rehashes of familiar scenes acting as the film’s raison d’etre. In short, this is a bad movie, and you should most definitely skip it.
Have a favorite Exodus film? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.