Exodus: Gods and Kings is director Ridley Scott’s take on the escape of the Hebrews from Egypt in the 15th century BCE. Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton star as Hebrew deliverer Moses and his former friend and Pharaoh, Ramses.
Most of you know the story. The Hebrews are captive and abused by the Egyptians who are forcing them to build pyramids and other monuments. Brutal treatment gets Moses, who is a Hebrew and raised in the Pharaoh’s house, ticked at their treatment. He kills a captor and is banished from the kingdom.
While wandering the wilderness, Moses encounters God in a burning bush and is told to go set his people free.
Bale, Edgerton ( Warrior), John Turturro, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and a bunch of actors you’ve never heard of die a thousand deaths uttering laughable dialogue. Even more laughable — and what will be shocking to believers catching this — is how Scott and his writers portray God.
Once at the top of his game, Scott is now in free fall. The awful Prometheus in 2012 and 2013’s The Counselor were among the worst movies those years. Exodus: Gods and Kings is going to be my pick as this year’s worst.
The only place the movie shines is the parting of the Red Sea. The passage across the sea and the destruction of the Egyptian army is stunning and would truly impress the now long-deceased Cecil B. DeMille whose The Ten Commandments is still considered one of the best — if not the best — bible movie ever done.
The other effects and the sets are so-so. Some, where you see long shots of people, chariots and horses, or of the city of Memphis or the Hebrew slave city, are just plain cheesy.
You can’t blame the material. The story of the freeing of the Hebrews from Egyptian slavery is multi-layered, intensely dramatic and filled with larger-than-life characters and impressive miracles.
Yet the four writers of Exodus: Gods and Kings — and Scott — blow it completely. One of the four is Oscar winner Steven Zaillian, who penned Schindler’s List. The other two did the story of Tower Heist, and Jeffrey Caine wrote the most excellent Constant Gardner.
If you want to get more specific, there are six writers, but two — the real Moses who wrote the book of Exodus and God who inspired it — didn’t get credit. As bad as Exodus: Gods and Kings is, they probably wouldn’t want credit anyway.