Exodus: Gods and Kings 1.0 stars

Exodus: Gods and Kings movie poster

Well, at least they got the biblical proportions right: the massive Egyptian monument industry, the vast peoples and vaster landscapes, and most importantly, the God-sized plagues and waves. Otherwise, Ridley Scott's take on the great contest between Moses and Pharoah is underwhelming and ill-conceived. First, the underwhelming: nearly everyone — from Christian Bale's doubtful, grouchy Moses to Joel Edgerton's frowny, pouty Ramses to Ben Kingsley's sanguine Hebrew priest — seems eager to underplay and humanize their characters, as if to say "We're just regular folks who happen to be engaged in an epic struggle over whose God will dominate Western Civilization for the next few millennia. Don't mind us. These fancy headpieces and divine plagues? Just window dressing, really. In the end, it's just an argument about civil rights." Which brings us to the ill-conceived part: it's true that some modern people still believe in the Old Testament God, but that doesn't mean it makes sense to have your Old Testament figures talk and think like modern people. "What kind of God tells a man to leave his family?" asks a woman who also tells her child that he's not allowed to climb "God's mountain." "Is this your God? A killer of children?" asks a horrified Ramses, shortly after he has declared himself a god and promised to murder all the Hebrew children. "Is this meant to humble me?" asks Moses after God has already humbled him. You get the idea. And portraying God as a snotty English schoolboy may have looked clever on paper, but it does get annoying. 2014.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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