COURTESY KERRY BROWN/20TH CENTURY FOXChristian Bale plays Moses in director Ridley Scott’s would-be Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

COURTESY KERRY BROWN/20TH CENTURY FOXChristian Bale plays Moses in director Ridley Scott’s would-be Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings.”

‘Exodus’ plagued with flaws

Ridley Scott's Biblical epic “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” which tells the story of Moses freeing the Jewish slaves from the pharaohs of Egypt, fails on many levels, but the main one is that it's a droning bore.

Even the sorrowful moans that accompany the soundtrack score seem to echo the sentiment.

Scott's somber approach leaves no room for any kind of emotional or spiritual connection to the material, and it's difficult to drum up much sympathy or interest. Unlike Cecil B DeMille's classic “The Ten Commandments” (1956) or the animated “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), it’s not funny or campy enough to be purely entertaining. Only the Seven Plagues offer some kind of nasty distraction from the tedium. With horror movie mayhem, crocodiles snack on hundreds of extras and turn the Nile red, and slimy frogs infiltrate the Pharaoh's palace.

But the other plagues, especially the deaths of the firstborns, quickly put a damper on the fun. Even the climactic parting of the Red Sea is less impressive than in DeMille's movie.

Christian Bale plays Moses like a combination of Hamlet and Rambo, deadly serious, but able to kick some serious tail in battle. His character falls in love (with Maria Valverde) and marries, but with all the romance of a perfume ad.

Joel Edgerton is more interesting as the bad pharaoh, Ramses, coming across as a wall of artificial bluster designed to hide an inferiority complex. When he declares “I am the god!” he's as much trying to convince himself as anyone else.

Occasionally familiar faces – like John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver or Ben Kingsley – turn up, accompanied by a note of recognition, but little else.

But why we're even here is another question. Scott doesn't particularly seem to believe in his story. He has taken precautions to distance himself from religious association.

God appears here as a creepy child, and for some reason, whenever Moses and God talk, the movie shows a third character spying on them. In the spy's point of view, God is not visible, and it appears as if Moses is ranting to himself.

Scott doesn't seem particularly suited to these big battle epics, although he is continually drawn to them. “Exodus” is not unlike the interminable slogs through “Robin Hood,” “Kingdom of Heaven” and even the freakishly overrated Oscar-winner “Gladiator.”

Recently, he detoured back into smarter, better movies – “Prometheus” and “The Counselor” – and it's a shame to see him slip again. With “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” rather than letting his people go, he has let them down.

REVIEW

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Two stars

Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Maria Valverde

Written by: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian

Directed by: Ridley Scott

Rated PG-13

Running time: 2 hours, 30 minutes

artsChristian BaleExodus: Gods and KingsMoviesRidley Scott

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Construction in the Better Market Street Project between Fifth and Eighth streets is expected to break ground in mid-2021.<ins></ins>
SFMTA board to vote on Better Market Street changes

Agency seeks to make up for slimmed-down plan with traffic safety improvements

U.S. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris speaks during an event to name President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team at the Queen Theater on Dec. 1, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
Kamala Harris to resign from Senate

Bridget Bowman CQ-Roll Call Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will resign from the… Continue reading

A view of Science Hall at the City College of San Francisco Ocean campus on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
CCSF begins search for next chancellor amid new challenges

‘It’s arguably the biggest single responsibility the board has,’ trustee says

Some people are concerned that University of California, San Francisco’s expansion at its Parnassus campus could cause an undesirable increase in the number of riders on Muni’s N-Judah line.<ins></ins>
Will UCSF’s $20 million pledge to SFMTA offset traffic woes?

An even more crowded N-Judah plus increased congestion ahead cause concern

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) speaks during her weekly press conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pelosi called for the impeachment of U.S. President Donald Trump a day after his supporters stormed the Capitol. (Yuri Gripas/Abaca Press/TNS)
Feds seeking woman whose ex says she stole Nancy Pelosi’s laptop during Capitol riot

Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer Federal authorities have obtained an arrest warrant… Continue reading

Most Read