The release of Exodus: Gods and Kings has had a lot of coverage, but hardly any of it has been to do with whether it’s any good or not. The ‘white washing’ of this biblical epic (as previously discussed on Third Act Film) has received a lot of criticism, with many people saying they would boycott the film before it had been released. This controversy was the last thing Exodus needed, as most big budget adaptations of stories from The Bible automatically come with a negative backlash from the religious community, and this is no exception. So, does this have an impact on the film? And more importantly, is it any good?
Unfortunately, the answer to both of those question is, not really. Yes, the first time you see Sigourney Weaver in full ancient Egyptian get up, it is a little strange, but that’s kind of it. After the initial strangeness, I completely stopped noticing. This was especially true of the actors who had the most screen time, which is further helped by the fact that the acting is very strong across the board. Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton are both very good as Moses and Ramses respectively, although they both suffer from the same problem, which is inconsistent accents.
So where does this film fall down? I had a strange feeling throughout most of Exodus, and that’s because it was both far too long, and very rushed in parts. The film opens strongly with good character introductions, followed by an epic battle, but what follows is an hour long slog through unnecessary character development, and scenes that don’t feel important to the story. This is a problem that’s exacerbated by the fact that most people already know the story of Moses, and watching a story you already know slowly unfold is a bit of a chore.
As previously mentioned, on the other side is the fact that some parts seems rushed. A big issue was how the passing of time was handled. It seemed like Moses casually strolled through thousand mile journeys in an afternoon, and without breaking a sweat. There was also one scene near the end of the film where four days passed in the blink of an eye, without it ever being mentioned, or used to build tension.
With all these things being said, Exodus: Gods and Kings does have some brilliant moments. The ten plagues were done very well (turning the Nile to blood was particularly good), even if it felt like there were only seven or eight, and the parting of the Red Sea was suitably epic. These were obviously the moments that Ridley Scott felt most comfortable handling.
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