Exodus: Gods and Kings – a disaster of a film

Posted on 2 January 2015
By George Heron
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There was a dark cloud already swirling over Exodus: Gods and Kings when Christian Bale was calling the character he played – Moses – a schizophrenic and someone with a mental illness.

Ridley’s Scott’s comments were intriguing on how he intended to make Exodus: Gods and Kings as plausible as possible to make it more contemporary which led audiences to believe in some sort of optimistic preconception for the movie. Fail.

It didn’t start off too bad. Moses and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) are sent by the Pharaoh of the time, Seti (a surprise appearance by John Turturro), to deal with some Hittites. They are called that because they hit stuff and the Egyptians don’t want to be hit by them. Moses saves Ramses’ life in the ensuing battle, fulfilling a prophecy.

From then on it all goes wrong.

Four screenwriters concocted the mess that was to follow and the too many cooks irrevocably soil and obliterate the broth maxim rings true here. The film is a shocking mess.

Steve Zaillian is one of the writers in question: a man who worked on Schindler’s List. That quality has not translated over to this turkey.

When Moses is banished from Egypt he goes all Batman Begins and after a life of luxury, develops an amazing resourcefulness, surviving on the little that the desert-based wilderness provides.

Not only that, Christian Bale’s accent – as was Russell Crowe’s before him in Ridley’s Robin Hood – is an atrocious chameleon, combining Cockney, a bit of Gandalf and towards the end, full-on Al Pacino.

It did provide some entertainment and a few giggles to help with the overall agony that came with watching this farce. No second Oscar this time, sorry.

God is represented as a child prone to hissy fits which incurred a general feeling of face-palming whenever “God” was on screen.

It felt like every time Lisa is on the screen in The Room, sucking the life out of you with each nuance of his performance.

Moses is seen by his mate Joshua (Aaron Paul) talking to the godchild and the camera always seems to go on him every time Moses does anything.

If Ridley had his way, you would see Moses take a dump with a cut to a shot of Joshua looking on in his typically bewildered and mystified way.

A paragraph must be devoted to the bafflement as to why Aaron Paul chose to take on this, and I use the term mockingly, project. You’ve been in one of the best TV shows of all time and this is the best you can do?

He wasn’t given much to say, probably because everyone would imagine him ending every sentence with “Bitch!” like he did as Jesse in Breaking Bad. I hope his next role helps him exorcise the demons being in this film will invoke.

There are many changes and additions to the original story to pad it out and he still only managed to eke (or is it EEK!) two and a half hours out of it. It felt like ten and I was itching to walk out of the last half an hour.

It gets you thinking about the 100-plus million dollar budget that was used to blurt this out into the world. It would have been better spent rebuilding Gaza or some other worthy cause. A total waste.

Trying to think of another positive to be more objective…

Okay. I’m being really generous here. The scale of the events that occurred was (partly) impressive. The plagues are visually notable but make the Christian God look like a right sadist.

All the people of Egypt were punished just because of one stubborn leader? How just is that?

The scene that should have been the highlight of the film – at least the one that was most-looked-forward-to – was the parting of the Red Sea. Ridley said something like an earthquake would be used to make it more seem like a natural disaster instead of an implausible, physics-defying phenomenon.

It ended up being neither: a damp squib – which is the whole feeling of this disaster.