Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ Review: Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton & Aaron Paul

The director of Alien and Prometheus, Christian Bale as Moses, Jesse Pinkman as his trusted follower Joshua and Australian actor Joel Edgerton as the Pharaoh Ramses…sounds like an interesting movie to me! Is there a greater and more interesting story in the world than the one of Moses? All of these exciting factors put into one film has to make an interesting one and it’s all of these factors that make the film both engaging and strange.

Exodus: Gods and Kings tells the biblical story of Moses (Christian Bale) and his journey to free over 600,000 slaves from Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton). When Moses confronts Ramses and asks him to free his people, Ramses declines, which sparks the cycle of deadly plagues across Egypt. With God speaking to Moses through a child messenger (Isaac Andrews), Moses follows his wishes and commands as the plagues take over Egypt.

Director Ridley Scott’s (2013’s The Counselor) vision of the famous biblical story is undoubtedly gorgeous and stunning. Christian Bale is impeccable as always and adds a warm humanity to the famous character of Moses. He carries the entire film and his transformation and character arc as Moses from life as a prince of Egypt to a lone man fighting his brother for his people’s freedom is unflinching.

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It’s imperative to watch Exodus without any preconceived notions and take into consideration that this is a re-telling of the famous story and not a remake of 1956’s The Ten Commandments. The movie does things a bit differently than what we have seen and read before which is both daring and surprising. The montage of plagues hitting Egypt is striking, horrifying, brutal and easily the best part in the film. Where Exodus fails is in length, misuse of actors and rushed ending.

Though Exodus may not fully live up to its profound source material, the worst mistake the film makes is the misuse of talented actor Aaron Paul. It’s a mistake for the director and casting team to cast someone with the caliber of Aaron Paul as Joshua, a character that is given nothing to do besides look longingly at Moses and spit out maybe 5 lines. Paul has proven he can be a strong supporting character with AMC’s Breaking Bad and even lead a film like he did earlier this year in Need For Speed. It’s a waste of the actor’s talent to put him in a role like this. Of course Scott also underuses Sigourney Weaver too, though her involvement in the film is more understandable given her and Scott’s long-standing relationship.

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After the parting of the Red Sea, which is done differently than any other Moses film, Scott rushes the ending and wraps up the story in under 10 minutes. Time jumps quite drastically and we see Bale decades older as he is going to place the stone of the famous Ten Commandments. Some of the first act could have been edited down to allow more time to close the movie.

Ridley Scott’s unique vision is welcomed to tell this incredible story while Christian Bale continues to prove he is a worthy talent. But the film could have benefited from some strong editing and the misuse of Aaron Paul and Sigourney Weaver are inexcusable.

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