Movie Review: Exodus


Cary, NC — Exodus: Gods and Kings comes from director Ridley Scott of Gladiator. The film tells the story of Moses and Ramses in the same vein as the biblical epics of old Hollywood like The Ten Commandments and Ben-Hur. However, while Exodus has the benefit of today’s technology to fully realize events like the parting of the Red Sea, it lacks the spirit of wonder and awe that filled those classic epics. The result is a beautifully made but ultimately dull viewing experience.

Exodus is Beautiful to Look At, But…

Director Scott is a master filmmaker, period. Blade Runner. Alien. Kingdom of Heaven. Black Hawk Down. Thelma & Louise. And the sword and sandal genre is nothing new for the director, so it comes as no surprise that Exodus is very well put together and gorgeous to watch.

The effects are top notch, and there is a sense of scale appropriate for a film of this size. Scott even went so far as to have numerous sets built instead of just relying on CGI to enhance everything. At 2.5 hours, the film moves along at a nice pace. It even stars one of my very favorite actors, Christian Bale (American Hustle, The Fighter), as Moses.

Adds Nothing New to Classic Story

I consider it strange, then, that Exodus seems so empty and lackluster. It hits all the big and important points of this familiar story and even threatens to become interesting with its handling of the politics between Moses and Ramses in the first half of the film.

But, once Moses becomes exiled, the film begins to just go through the motions. This is extremely frustrating, because it seems like that would have been a good place for Scott and company to really sink their teeth into things and explore the toll that leadership took on Moses–or spend more time on the conflict between Ramses and Moses.

Instead, the film feels like it’s racing to the finish line. The ten plagues, some of the most important aspects in the story, are barely touched on. The part is there, of course, and, visually, it’s one of the best moments in the film. Unfortunately, Scott breezes through it–never once allowing the viewer to get an idea of how the plagues really affected the people.

Honestly, it seems like Exodus needs an extra 30-45 minutes to tell its story, to let things breathe a little more, and to have more of an impact.

Skip it and Watch the Classics Instead

Exodus: Gods and Kings is a frustrating experience. Visually, it’s a stunning piece of film-making filled with a supporting cast that includes John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley and Joel Edgerton. Director Scott hits all the story beats he should but, in the end, the film doesn’t have anything new to say with these characters.

Exodus isn’t a terrible movie by any means, but it’s also not worth the price of admission. Stay home and watch the classics instead.


Jordan Hunt covers movies for CaryCitizen. Read more Movie Reviews

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1 reply
  1. Cynthia P. Barnett
    Cynthia P. Barnett says:

    Thanks for the warning, Jordan. I’m also disappointed to learn that, like so many other Biblical stories on the big screen, movie makers miss one main point: the inner transformative power these experiences have on their principal characters. Some audiences may not know of Moses’ earlier struggles to accept this daunting task of leading his people to freedom– first through a dangerous escape and then another hazardous path. Some scholars think Moses originally suffered from a speech impediment, but in any case he had a definite case of low self-esteem in today’s terms.

    It’s inspiring that Moses apparently overcame this limitation through spiritual strength and then was able to speak before Pharaoh, free his people from slavery, and give them the Ten Commandments. Today’s audiences can relate to this inner victory, as well as the outer drama. Was that all there in “Exodus?”

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