** out of ****
Ridley Scott sure knows how to film biblical plagues. In his newest film, the director of Blade Runner and Gladiator shows us the Nile turned red by the feasting on Egyptian sailors by hundreds of Crocodiles, people covered in boils from rampant insect bites and the death of first-borns –all because their leaders believed themselves to be gods.
Most of the computer-generated vistas showing us helicopter shots of this ancient civilization are seamlessly real and Scott directs his cast in this environment with his typical atmospheric strength, but as usual, keeps an impersonal distance from their psychological attributes. Christian Bale portrays Moses with his typical man-under-strain shtick and Joel Edgerton is effective as the arrogant Ramses.
It is right to point out that the majority of this cast is white. Something about this entertained me, because its similarities to Cecil B. DeMille’s cast for The Ten Commandments gave it a camp value. I can’t begrudge most of these actors for doing a fine job, but the setting is a missed opportunity for diverse leads.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is a gorgeously executed traditional epic with some creativity in its rendition of the story of Moses –but slowly becomes a bore due to the less creative action conventions Scott may have created decades ago, but feel run-of-the-mill today.
The most interesting choice made by Scott and his writers, is for God to appear in the form of an eight-year-old British kid, who appears, along with the burning bush, to Moses after he suffers a near-fatal head injury while climbing a mountain. Perhaps the portrayal of God as a possible hallucination is Scott toying with the audience with ambiguity, forcing the audience to ask a big question: Is Moses a Replicant?