Christian Bale stars as Moses in the biblical epic, “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”
The movie follows the relationship between Moses and the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses. Read the full synopsis from 20th Century Fox:
Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
Overall, I’d say Exodus: Gods and Kings is worth watching. Ridley Scott’s tale of Moses, and his rise as a major biblical leader, is a compelling one, save for some creative conveniences. The visual effects add a new dimension to this epic narrative that gives audiences an idea of what these stories look like. Scenes involving the Pharaoh’s massive army, and the parting of the Red Sea, are grand in scale and part of the 3D experience. Parents should feel safe taking their children (any age) to see this film, but Exodus: Gods and Kings may not satisfy their young minds. I’d recommend finding a babysitter for the night to enjoy this “adult” film, featuring some violence, gore, and frightening/intense scenes. Read our full review for an in-depth look at the film (contains spoilers).
The film opens up with Moses and Ramses, the two generals in Pharaoh’s army. In movies like this, it is hard to imagine people from this time period were speaking English, so, as the film begins, it is surprising to hear the Egyptians speaking a language we understand. This is an aspect of the movie that audiences become quickly accustomed to and requires no mental effort. The first part of the movie focuses on the relationship that these two share and a prophecy that a leader will be saved by a man who will lead. On a mission to confront and destroy a nearby army, Ramses and Moses watch the prophecy unfold before their eyes as Moses saves Ramses from certain death. Unable to inherit the throne for himself, Moses becomes Ramses’ chief advisor after the death of the previous Pharaoh.
Upon visiting a nearby city, Moses is confronted by local Hebrews and is told that he was born a slave himself. Unbelieving, Moses returns to Ramses but the news catches up to him and Ramses is forced to act. Moses is punished by exile, and his journey leads him to far-away lands. Here, Moses is welcomed by a local group of people that provide him food and shelter. He also meets Zipporah (Maria Valverde) who eventually becomes his wife. The passage of time in Exodus is slippery and, sometimes, incoherent. Once married, Moses’ timeline accelerates more than ten years into the future, where the audience first sees his son. It is also very apparent that Moses isn’t a believer in any sort of religion or god until his trip up “God’s mountain.” On a trip to rescue some of his flock, Moses is knocked unconscious by a random avalanche. During his unconsciousness, he is visited by a young boy that represents God or at least His messenger. Christians will recognize this scene as the “burning bush” passage in the Bible. After waking from his delusional state, he is convinced that he must return to Ramses’ kingdom to save the Egyptian slaves, leaving his wife and son behind.
Upon reconciling with the slave’s tale of his actual birth, Moses begins organizing the 600,000 slaves into action. Moses, with the help of Joshua (Aaron Paul), Aaron (Andrew Tarbet), and others, begins to attack Ramses and his supplies. In retaliation, Ramses responds by killing a family of slaves every day. Seeing that Moses will not stop his attacks, Ramses also sets fire to the village that provides shelter for the slaves. Because Moses’ efforts prove to be ineffective, God sends a series of plagues to force Ramses to heed Moses’ plea. The scenes involving the plagues offer the most compelling aspect of this film. The cruel and visceral realization of these plagues show audiences the consequences of the Pharaoh’s actions.
This bitter feud lasts for days until Moses breaks under the weight of the constant death. In another confrontation with God’s messenger, Moses is unwilling to comply with the next and final step of the divine plan. In an effort to save Ramses from this, Moses visits him one last time to warn him of the upcoming act.
During that night, the final act of God was to kill every first-born son in Egypt. Knowing of this, Moses instructed everyone to sacrifice a lamb and to use its blood to mark their doors. To stop any further death, Ramses orders Moses to take his people and to leave. Finally liberated, the 600,000 slaves follow Moses out of Egypt but Ramses remains unsatisfied with this outcome. He, along with a small army, rushes after Moses and the slaves to kill them. Attempting to lose Ramses and gain more time, Moses takes them onto a new path. Unfortunately, Moses’ split-second decision leads them to the Red Sea, which sets up the climactic end to this biblical epic.
In a fit of rage, Moses tosses his sword into the sea that, miraculously, parts it overnight. Now, with a way across the Red Sea, Moses leads the 600,000 with Ramses at their backs. As they continue to cross, Moses turns around for one, final confrontation with Ramses. The two end up being swept up by the returning waters, and both survive the current. The film ends with Moses returning to the family he left behind and, eventually, carving out the Ten Commandments.
Director Ridley Scott produces a visceral and modern adaptation of the biblical epic that satisfies on almost every level. The relationship between Moses and Ramses – portrayed by Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, respectively – is explored in a new and tragic light. Although far from perfect, ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is a thoughtful film that will last for generations to come.