Exodus: Gods and Kings has lots of mixed reviews across the internet. With most of them being negative, you should still attempt to see a film with an open mind so you can form an opinion without bias. With that being said, Exodus is one of the worst movies released in 2014.
What exactly was Ridley Scott thinking when making this disaster? But this is a special type of disaster: from a historical perspective, a biblical perspective, and a theatrical perspective. So let’s delve into this deeper shall we?
Historically, you’re telling the story of a mass exodus of Hebrews from Egypt. Egypt is located in North Africa. Where they’re going is considered the Middle-East (are you following so far?). You can find hoards and large numbers of extras for every type of movie except when it comes to even a “fairly” accurate depiction of minorities. You can count on your hands how many black people are in this movie and this is supposed to be Egypt, which is a country, that is in North Africa. How many Middle-Eastern actors were in this movie? Close to the same amount as black people with the exception that you see black people: get eaten, get killed, and serve the “Egyptian” royalty as slaves and peasants. So was it really a surprise when a large number of moviegoers rallied together to boycott this movie months before its release? Still not convinced? Let’s pretend you aren’t, but remember they’re fleeing Egypt to go to Canaan (Along the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea). Well, then where are all the Middle Eastern people? Because these “Hebrew slaves” look like they’re “Escaping LA” instead of Egypt.
So a few quick notes: Moses is sent to see Viceroy (who’s white) and has 3 black people who are servants. “Egyptians” are meeting and eating while all the black people in the scene are musicians, there to please the attendants, or they’re “security.” 1 of the 2 assassins was black (he dies of course). There’s more ridiculous depictions (continue below)…
Biblically, this is a disappointment. In 2014, a time of technological advancements and innovation, you can whip out your phone and have a bible at your fingertips. So the question is why? Why wasn’t one used the entire way through to tell a story that’s been told a thousand times over? Where in the bible did it say Moses was a sword-wielding bad ass? 90% of the movie he had a sword, 10% was holding a staff. No. God talks to Moses via burning bush, but as the bush is burning a white child appears to talk to Moses? No. Moses believes the child is God’s messenger, this white child has a British accent. No. The first 4 plagues were just bogus: Alligators appear out of nowhere and eat fishermen in the River Euphrates (of course the first fisherman you see is black, he’s eaten immediately) and then tear into fish before turning on themselves. The river turns red from all the death that took place. Because of all the carnage there were dead bodies in the river, which brought about gnats, gnats brought about frogs, maggots and flies show up because of the frogs dying. No. The final plague takes place and God takes the first-born of whoever doesn’t have the blood of a lamb smeared around their door frame. In Egypt, of course, they show a black family, 1 black family, and as you guessed, their child doesn’t make it (I mean this is almost comical).
Finally we come to the filming perspective. People understand that whether you’re taking fictional events from a book, experiences from real life, and even events that take place in the bible, you are going to make it “Hollywood.” All I ask is that you don’t insult people, I think that’s a fair request. Like stated earlier, its 2014, they could’ve easily consulted a bible for accuracy and events… Or, they could just make up stuff because its “easier” or “fun.” Moses had a sword the majority of the film. Moses appears to be more like a psycho than a man having conversations with God. Why couldn’t the dialogue have been more believable? Why was God depicted as a bald, white, 4-year old with a British accent? That baby could’ve provided commentary for an English Premier League Match, and that’s who you chose to be the visual/voice of God? Was it too much to have Moses touch the river with his staff to turn it to blood instead of having alligators randomly appear? Moses couldn’t part the Red Sea, so he sees a comet, goes to sleep and wakes up to water receding? That’s just awful decision-making by everyone involved. Aaron was mentioned less than 5 times, I can only remember Joshua being mentioned once or twice, and the amount of inaccuracies in the film are just insulting. Hollywood has always made bad decisions so you can’t be surprised. Remember people, California is an extremely diverse state (extremely diverse), yet they chose Jake Gyllenhaal as the “Prince of Persia” and Tom Cruise as the “Last Samurai.” Are you sure there aren’t any Asians or Persians in LA? Give me a break…
The acting in this movie was appalling. Joel Edgerton will go down as the worst Ramses in the history of Exodus depictions. There is nothing positive to say about him in this film at all. The worst part was towards the end when his son died and they used a fake baby. They actually showed the fake baby, he shook the fake baby, and he was shown holding it in around 3 or 4 scenes. Out of the 15 main characters only 4 look believable and historically accurate: Ghassan Massoud (Ramses’ Grand Vizier), Golshifteh Farahani (Nefertari), Indira Varma (High Priestess), and Hiam Abbass (Bithia). At least they’re from Damascus, Iran, Spain, and Nazareth, but a story that takes place in Africa doesn’t have black faces in it? Minor roles and extras don’t count, because it’s taking place in Egypt, which is a gigantic country, and a country that is in Africa. Christian Bale wouldn’t have been my first pick as Moses but, as time went by he became less nauseating. Joel Egerton was a complete flop as Ramses, John Turturro as Seti wasn’t that bad, but he was only around for a short time. Ben Kingsley wasn’t even that bad and he barely spoke in this film. But I almost threw my notepad across the theatre when I saw Sigourney Weaver. That’s the best you could do to play an Egyptian? This isn’t Alien 7, so what in the world was the purpose of casting her?
The older less glitzy movies that depict bible stories are far more accurate. It’s sad that you apparently have to sacrifice accuracy for technology. Hollywood has a serious identity problem. A small number of people will see this movie and probably won’t see any of the problems noted in this review, and that’s fine. Our existence as people, wasn’t made to agree on everything. But the problems I’ve noted here are real problems that should be addressed. The budget for this film was $140 million… would it really have hurt to tell a bible story straight from the bible?
This debauchery gets a 3 out of 10. Its run-time is 2 hrs and 30 mins., and while it’s not boring, you’ll catch yourself in more than a few “what the heck?” moments.