Film Review: ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

exodus gods and kings

An improbably Anglo-led cast aside, Ridley Scott's Old Testament epic is a genuinely imposing spectacle.

“It’s not even that good a story,” Moses grumbles early on in Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” shortly after learning of the mysterious events that transformed a lowly Hebrew slave into a full-blown prince of Egypt. It’s a sly, knowing wink from a filmmaker who clearly has a terrific tale on his hands, yet faces a bit of a challenge in selling it to a more cynical, less easily razzle-dazzled audience than those that greeted the biblical epics of yesteryear. What’s remarkable about Scott’s genuinely imposing Old Testament psychodrama is the degree to which he succeeds in conjuring a mighty and momentous spectacle — one that, for sheer astonishment, rivals any of the lavish visions of ancient times the director has given us — while turning his own skepticism into a potent source of moral and dramatic conflict.

If this estimable account of how God delivered His people out of Egypt feels like a movie for a decidedly secular age, its searching, non-doctrinaire approach arguably gets closer to penetrating the mystery of faith than a more fawning approach might have managed. Like “Noah,” the year’s other nonconformist Judeo-Christian blockbuster, this is an uncommonly intelligent, respectful but far-from-reverent outsider’s take on Scripture, although “Exodus” is less madly eccentric and more firmly grounded in the sword-and-sandal tradition than Darren Aronofsky’s film, and will almost certainly prove less polarizing among believers. Even with a hefty $140 million pricetag and a two-and-a-half-hour running time to overcome, Fox’s year-end release (opening Dec. 12 Stateside) should ride 3D ticket premiums and general curiosity to muscular returns worldwide, landing closer to “Gladiator” than “Kingdom of Heaven” territory in terms of audience satisfaction and commercial payoff.

If there’s a controversial talking point here, it’s that Scott’s film continues the dubious tradition of casting white actors in an English-language picture set at the meeting point of Africa, Europe and the Middle East. Plenty of ink has already been spilled over the injustice of yet another major historical drama ceding the big roles to Hollywood royalty while relegating blacks, Arabs and other actors of color to the background: In addition to Christian Bale’s star turn as Moses, “Exodus” features Joel Edgerton as his stepbrother, Ramses — a transformation made reasonably convincing through state-of-the-art bronzing techniques and heavy applications of guyliner (plus the exquisitely bejeweled costumes designed by Janty Yates). Yet while these are problematic choices, dictated by commercial imperatives as old as Methuselah, they are also reservations one willingly suspends as the strength of the performances and the irresistible pull of the story take hold.

Scott’s choice of material hasn’t always been as reliable as his visual sense, but the Exodus account provides him with some solid if well-worn narrative scaffolding; given that we’ve all seen or heard some version of this story, the film’s four credit screenwriters (Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian) seem to instinctively grasp that a completist version would be ambitious but unnecessary. You know you’re in trustworthy hands when the film begins not with an infant floating among the reeds, but with Bale’s fully grown Moses living in the palace of the aging pharaoh Seti (John Turturro) — one of many ways in which the script shrewdly foregoes the usual framing devices in favor of a crisp, present-tense retelling.

The film swiftly establishes the brotherly bond between Moses, a favored general in Seti’s army, and Ramses, the proud pharaoh-to-be, their intimate yet rivalrous relationship sealed by the matching swords they wear into battle. Moses shows his mettle, and inadvertently fulfills a mysterious prophecy, by saving Ramses’ life in a large-scale Egyptian attack on the Hittites, an excitingly staged collision of horses and chariots, lensed by d.p. Dariusz Wolski with a mix of soaring overhead shots and ground-level combat footage.

Shortly thereafter, Moses pays a fateful visit to the city of Pithom, affording us a close-up look at the cruel machinery that has kept the Israelites enslaved for 400 years, toiling endlessly to build palaces and pyramids for their whip-cracking overlords. (The re-creation of ancient Egypt reps a staggering collaboration between production designer Arthur Max and visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, supplemented by location shooting in Almeria, Spain, a desert backdrop made famous by “Lawrence of Arabia.”) Unsettled by these glimpses of a genocide in progress, as well as by his lifelong identity crisis, Moses eventually learns the truth of his Hebrew lineage from Nun (Ben Kingsley), a wise Jewish elder. Before long, the secret falls into the hands of a calculating Egyptian viceroy (a wonderfully louche and loathsome Ben Mendelsohn), hastening Moses’ exit from the royal family and Egypt altogether.

Propelling the film through these absorbing early passages is Bale’s broodingly intelligent Moses, a cool, eloquent man of reason who disdains the God of Israel as well as the innumerable deities of Egypt, yet whose calm, rational demeanor can also be provoked to murderous fits of fury. The story of “Exodus: Gods and Kings” hinges on the gradual reshaping of his beliefs and the healing of his fractured identity: Humbled and exiled, he makes his way to Midian, where he becomes a shepherd and marries the beautiful Zipporah (Maria Valverde), though he has a difficult time truly accepting his place among the Hebrews and the Lord they worship.

It’s telling that Moses’ first divine encounter finds him almost completely submerged in mud, literally a man about to be reformed. Purists may balk at the notion of God taking on the earthly form of a cherubic angel, Malak (Isaac Andrews), whose petulant manner and British elocution at times suggest a very young Voldemort. It’s a mild provocation of sorts, a means of getting us to see the Lord as a skeptic, like Moses would initially: callous and whimsical by turns, a jealous, vengeful deity with a literally childish streak. Before long, God orders His servant to trigger a horrific campaign of destruction against Egypt, where the Hebrews are perishing in ever greater numbers under Ramses’ oppressive rule.

At once honoring and eclipsing the showmanship of Cecil B. DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” (1956), the final hour of “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is a sensationally entertaining yet beautifully modulated stream of visual wonders that make it all but impossible to tear one’s eyes from the screen. In one of his boldest strokes, Scott dramatizes the 10 plagues in a seamless, vividly realistic domino-effect montage — the bloody despoiling of the Nile (which takes a surprising page from “Jaws”) naturally giving way to a proliferation of gnats and frogs, boils and locusts — that truly does seem to capture the intensity of God’s wrath in one furious, unrelenting deluge. In keeping with the momentum established by Billy Rich’s editing and the superb vfx work, this Moses does not return to Ramses day after day with fresh entreaties of “Let my people go,” but instead remains in hiding, watching ambivalently as the Lord does their fighting for them.

“You don’t always agree with me,” God says to Moses, effectively inviting all viewers, regardless of persuasion, to wrestle with their own conflicted impulses. Scott, a self-professed agnostic whose films have nonetheless betrayed a restless spiritual dimension (particularly “Prometheus”), seems to have been inspired by his distance from the material, placing his identification with a hero who never stops questioning himself or the God he follows. Not unlike Russell Crowe’s Noah, and rather unlike Charlton Heston’s iconic barn-stormer, Bale’s Moses emerges a painfully flawed, embattled leader whose direct line to the Almighty is as much burden as blessing — and who wearily recognizes that once the Israelites have cast off the shackles of slavery, the truly hard work of governance, progress, repentance and faithfulness will begin.

Edgerton, his dark-rimmed eyes asmolder with pride and contempt, makes a powerfully understated Ramses, one who is not without his own measure of humanity: “What kind of fanatics worship such a God?!” he splutters amid the devastation of the final plague. Arriving at a time when religious divisions in the Middle East have become all too violently pronounced, the ideal of a Promised Land ever more elusive, it’s a question that resonates well beyond the story’s specific moment. And it lingers even as the film presses on toward its Red Sea climax — a brilliantly attenuated sequence that Scott stages with breathtaking suspense and deliberation, the massive CG-rendered waves never threatening to overwhelm the fraternal turmoil at the story’s core. (The theme of brotherhood torn asunder becomes unavoidably haunting when the film reveals its closing dedication to the late Tony Scott.)

That central dynamic is essential, since none of the other characters here registers with particular force: Moses’ right-hand man, Aaron (Andrew Barclay Tarbet), is reduced to a bit part, while his comrade Joshua (Aaron Paul) gets similarly short shrift, despite a memorable introduction. Elsewhere, the film’s revisionist strategy doesn’t do much to elevate the dramatic stature of the female characters: As Seti’s calculating wife Tuya, Sigourney Weaver (teaming with Scott for the third time) has little to do besides look wonderfully imperious in a Cleopatra headdress, although Hiam Abbass does manage a few emotionally charged moments as Moses’ foster mother, Bithia. As Moses’ and Ramses’ respective wives, Valverde and Golshifteh Farahani serve mainly decorative functions.

Although long enough at 150 minutes, Scott’s epic is over an hour shorter than DeMille’s, and key events — including the Israelites’ descent into idol-worshipping chaos — have been skillfully elided, perhaps awaiting a “Kingdom of Heaven”-style director’s cut. The result feels less like a straightforward retread of the biblical narrative than an amped-up commentary on it: This “Exodus” comes at you in a heady and violent onrush of incident, propelled along by Alberto Iglesias’ vigorous score, teeming with large-scale crowd and battle sequences (which take on an especially rich, tactile quality in 3D), and packed with unexpectedly rousing martial episodes, including one where Moses attempts to train his people for battle.

Some may well desire a purer, fuller version of the story, one more faithful to the text and less clearly shaped by the demands of the Hollywood blockbuster. But on its own grand, imperfect terms, “Exodus: Gods and Kings” is undeniably transporting, marked by a free-flowing visual splendor that plays to its creator’s unique strengths: Given how many faith-based movies are content to tell their audiences what to think or feel, it’s satisfying to see one whose images alone are enough to compel awestruck belief.

Film Review: 'Exodus: Gods and Kings'

Reviewed at 20th Century Fox Studios, Los Angeles, Nov. 24, 2014. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 150 MIN.

Production

A 20th Century Fox release and presentation in association with TSG Entertainment of a Chernin Entertainment/Scott Free production. Produced by Peter Chernin, Ridley Scott, Jenno Topping, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam. Co-producer, Adam Somner.

Crew

Directed by Ridley Scott. Screenplay, Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian. Camera (color, widescreen, Red Digital Cinema, 3D), Dariusz Wolski; editor, Billy Rich; music, Alberto Iglesias; production designer, Arthur Max; supervising art directors, Marc Holmes, Benjamin Fernandez; art directors, Alex Cameron, Gavin Fitch, Matt Wynne; set decorators, Celia Bobak, Pilar Revuelta; costume designer, Janty Yates; sound (Dolby Atmos), David Stephenson; supervising sound editor/designer, Oliver Tarney; re-recording mixers, Paul Massey, Mark Taylor; special effects supervisor, Pau Costa; visual effects supervisor, Peter Chiang; visual effects producers, Jamie Stevenson, Tim Keene; visual effects, Double Negative, MPC, Scanline, Method Studios, Lola Post, Peerless; stunt coordinator, Rob Inch; 3D conversion, Stereo D; line producer (U.K.), Mary Richards; associate producer, Teresa Kelly; assistant director, Lee Grumett; second unit director, Luke Scott; second unit camera, Flavio Labiano; casting, Nina Gold.

With

Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Isaac Andrews, Hiam Abbass, Indira Varma, Ewen Bremner, Golshifteh Farahani, Ghassan Massoud, Tara Fitzgerald, Maria Valverde, Andrew Barclay Tarbet.

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  1. Mike says:

    Read the book of Exodus it gives you complete details on how to make a movie if you didn’t already know. And then read revelations any man who adds to or takes away from will be held accountable in the day of judgment by the Lord Jesus

  2. Mike says:

    Exodus 3:1-22 KJV
    [1] … Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. [2] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. [3] And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. [4] And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. [5] And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. [6] Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. [7] And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; [8] And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. [9] Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. [10] Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. [11] And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt? [12] And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain. [13] And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? [14] And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. [15] And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. [16] Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: [17] And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey. [18] And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days’ journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. [19] And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. [20] And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. [21] And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: [22] But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians. …
    Read the book of Exodus it gives you complete details on how to make a movie if you didn’t already know. And then read revelations any man who adds to and takes away from will be on accountable in the day of judgment by the Lord Jesus

  3. J. R. Niles says:

    The costumes were beautiful as was the cinematography and the music, but this film with all its beauty lacked depth. It could have been so much more and would have been if they focused on the whole story. There was a lot of potential here with the great cast and budget to make an amazing film, but there was too much focus on war scenes and not enough on the actual story.

  4. Pour tenter votre chance et gagner des goodies du film Exodus:
    Gods And Kings, il suffit de répondre à la question et de remplir
    le formulaire ci-dessous.

  5. Keith says:

    Sorry to have to include one swearword, but it sums up what I felt on watching this comedy. On suffering all of the plagues, including the added crocodiles and sharks, I fully expected Christian Bale to shout out
    “Fuck me, God, enough already!”. I’d like to see the out-takes. They would be shorter and more entertaining. I’ve restored my faith in Bale’s acting by revisiting American Hustle.

  6. This was a great review. I agreed wholeheartedly. I previously read negative reviews and I don’t think those people have any idea what they are talking about. I think they just like to pretend they are knowledgeable when really they just want to sound smart. The acting was excellent–only a skilled actor can pick apart performances with any merit, and I can say each cast me member was dialed in and extremely dedicated to creating riveting, multi-layered performances. The script was very smart–it flowed and the 150 minutes passed like nothing for me. The discrepancies in the actual story were easily over-looked…there was plenty left out of Coppola’s Godfather when compared to the novel and it would be absurd to even bring it up, so why compare the book to the story in this case? And finally, Ridley Scott is an amazing director. The principal actors are nearly all A-list pro’s. I think the most poignant aspect I can take from this film is faith. When you have faith in artists, you let them do their thing. You let Scott direct, you let Bale and Edgerton be amazing, you let the DP and the CGI artists make it look incredible, and at the end of the day you have something worth seeing. But if you want to take the power into your own hands, and as a novice critic, decide you can do it better yourself by tearing it apart, I think you will end up going down the same artistic road as Ramses. So I’m glad Variety put out this review, and that it combats some of the other idiotic reviews I’ve read thus far, so that people have enough faith to go out and see a film that is an excellent choice for the holiday season and inspires one that it’s possible to still be thoroughly entertained and spiritually/intellectually stimulated.

  7. bob says:

    Moses had a Jersey accent, I was waiting for Tony Spareno to show up. It was awful.

  8. Billy D says:

    Relax. It’s just a movie. It’s not like any of this stuff actually happened. We all know this oiginated as entertaining fiction and nothing in the bible was ever intended as truth.

  9. Bill G says:

    I saw the movie last night. As expected, I really enjoyed it. It served as fertile material to discuss many religious and secular ideas with my 16-year-old son.

    Go in with an open mind. Whether religious, agnostic, or atheist, there’s believable material here. Is it realism? No. It’s art – like a Picasso. But does a Picasso reach you? Does it draw you in? This movie does that.

    If you want bible, read the bible. If you hate god, go join an atheistic cause. If you want to be entertained with education as serendipity, enjoy this movie. To the degree that it shakes your beliefs a bit, it has succeeded in making you think. This is the value of the movie, and it does that quite well – in spite of its artistic license.

  10. Bill G says:

    I can’t believe how many people below are trashing a movie that they claim they haven’t seen. If that isn’t the epitome of ignorance – religious or secular – then I don’t know what is.

    I read the critic reviews with my son this evening, and explained something to him. Because of the political and/or religious biases of the reviewers, sometimes a negative is a positive. When I read critics trashing Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing – and why they were trashing it – it gave me reason to go see the movie. As I suspected, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Just bought 2 tickets for the movie tonight. This is my “boys night out” for my son and I. I’ve seen many movies where I was an expert on the subject matter (e.g. Karate Kid) and learned to forgive interpretation and cinematic license if the film maker succeeded in reaching the audience. I bet a dinner at a nice restaurant that my son and I will enjoy and appreciate this movie.

  11. Lane says:

    I must say I was very disappointed in this movie. It was nothing like the original Ten Commandments with Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston. Exodus was very much out of context. So, all I can say is I took it to be just a movie, because it sure did not depict the chapter Exodus from the Bible correctly. I must say the original Ten Commandments that was made in 1956 does a great job. Even the special effects are better in the Ten Commandments than in this Exodus movie. It is a shame that the writers of such movies want to distort the Bible.

  12. Judith G. says:

    How sad that Hollywood hates the bible so much that it couldn’t even say the word God in the movie Noah. In Exodus, they try to explain the plagues and the parting of the sea as natural phenomena. Yet Hollywood makes these movies anyways so that they can take monies from the faithful. If you don’t believe than stick to movies like Fast and the Furious. I may not be religious but I certainly respect those that are. I think my kids and I will sit this one out!

  13. John says:

    Unbelievers are so lame. So afraid to present the story as its written you have to insinuate that Moses is suffering from brain damage?
    This is the most printed Book in the history of mankind, by like umpteen billion copies, and somehow you have the nerve to rewrite it. Just think about that for a second. Its like..here is one of the most dramatic stories ever told but Im a coward so lets see how this plays if Moses had rickets and wore a diaper. The arrogance is breathtaking

  14. JESSICA LI says:

    I like the ANIMATED VERSION BETTER.

  15. JESSICA LI says:

    THIS a terrible movie. HERE Hollywood goes again with the whitewashing. ZIPPORAH was of dark complexion. READ the facts.

  16. blah says:

    Saw a preview last night. Its a poor film and woefully miscast. Some spectacle but zero emotional content or engagement.

  17. Entertain Me says:

    When going to see a movie at the cinema, I mostly want to be entertained.
    Sir Ridley has entertained me in the past going back to Blade Runner, yes Gladiator, American Gangster, Robin Hood etc…
    The brilliant Christian Bale has given countless incredible, moving and solid performances going back to Empire of the Sun. I even thought he was a good Jesus in Mary, Mother of Jesus at the age of 25.
    He was excellent in Rescue dawn, 3:10 to Yuma, The Prestige…he has more than proven his talent in the last 25 years and gives his all in every movie, so I for one cannot wait to see this movie. I even saw the Ben Kingsley Moses made for tv back in 1995…I am more than willing to give them a chance in this production, that looks epic indeed. People have different reasons why they will go see a movie in the first place and for me, Bale and Ridley and the epicness of this story will have me buying a ticket!
    Peace out ;)

  18. Mike says:

    I am concerned that, like Noah, there may be too much artistic license taken. If you want to rewrite history, as Tarantino did with the assassination of Hitler in Inglorious Basterds, the result is Pulp. Is Exodus a Pulp movie that draws upon historical accounts or is it a movie that attempts to recount the story of Moses? There is a huge difference. i would like to know what I am seeing before I see it, so I can adjust my thinking accordingly.

  19. Quote: “Given how many faith-based movies are content to tell their audiences what to think or feel, it’s satisfying to see one whose images alone are enough to compel awestruck belief.”

    1) No one asked you for your religious opinion “to compel awestruck belief.”

    2) The entire story is a fabrication. Go watch “Buried Secrets Of The Bible”, which is free on the PBS website to get a better understanding of these key points:

    —The Israelites were never in Egypt, much less enslaved.
    —The was never an Exodus, since there were no Israelite slaves to liberate.
    —The Canaanites ARE the Israelites.
    —There was never a Moses.

    Most Jewish people don’t take these stories literality. Bible literalism is a weird by-product of American evangelicalism and is a fairly new phenomenon of the last couple of hundred years.

    It’s just a bunch of fables, myths & parable stories.

    “Awestruck belief”….don’t make me laugh.

    • Mike says:

      …”the story is fabrication”,”most Jewish people don’t take these stories literally”, “it is just a bunch of fables, myths, and parable stories”. You learned all this from PBS. It sounds like you subscribe to a different “bible” that, unlike the Holy Bible, is full of facts and truth. Thank you for clearing that up.

    • Jonathan says:

      You forget that the Bible is the word of God. I am a Catholic and do not take the Bible literally. Your attempt to demystify this beautiful, poetic book is vulgar.

  20. IT 2 IT says:

    TOOOOOOO MANY unspecial special FX.

    As a thrill ride ok.

    Scott remains an art director.

    The SUPER–naturally REAL continues to allude, indeed, swallow,
    franchise slum Hollywood.

  21. I absolutely hate the fact that Xtian bale is playing Moses in this movie… why the heck cast a so-called “A lister” when it only hurts an otherwise (seemingly) great movie??? lord of the rings, one of the best trilogies EVER, didn’t have a single “a-lister” which added to its appeal and greatness… we go to movies for the story and for the director not the money hoarding, selfish, narcisstic ‘a-listers’… why doesn’t movie industry finally understand this???

  22. John T. says:

    “Bale’s broodingly intelligent Moses, a cool, eloquent man of reason who disdains the God of Israel”

    Yeah Hollywood…forget you.

    This movie will bomb at the box office. Insult your audience and then beg them to buy a ticket? Idiocy.

  23. Ray says:

    Ham, the son of Noah, was the “founder’ of Egypt..They were the descendants of Adam(Adahm) which when you look up the definition of Adam means to be ruddy, show blood in the face. It’s called a blush. King David was called ruddy. Early busts and paintings of Cleopatra show her as being “white”. Since Ham was a brother of Shem it would stand to reason they were all light skinned as the laws of God forbid them from marrying outside their race(miscengination). So, the early descendants which settled Egypt would have been termed white or caucasian, or able to blush. What’s the big deal. Do some study on your own. Enlighten yourselves. And, before you say I’m racist do your own study. After the creation, God looked at everything and said it was good. So,who am I to argue. All the races He created and all other things-if it was good with Him, it’s good with me.

  24. D.D. says:

    Why was this possibly needed? DeMille’s version still holds up. From the review it doesn’t sound like the movie makes a case for itself in the presence of DeMille’s.

    Give me Yul Brynner clutching his head in defeat any day. That was an Exodus movie.

  25. I saw it last night. EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS(3D) is the greatest Epic since GLADIATOR(2000).

    Sir Ridley Scott and Christian Bale are at his finest.

    EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS(3D) deserves some Oscars especially Sir Ridley Scott as Best Director.

  26. niki says:

    When movies with big sets, costumes and sets are shot on video cameras it takes you out of the story and looks very fake.

    • Enrique Godinez says:

      You do know that films are shot on vido cinematic cameras? And they work on the film on post production and enhances the cinematic look? They look great for example Anna Karenina that never looked fake on the contrary it looked gorgeous.

  27. rocky-o says:

    certainly not a big fan of christian bale, but love ridley scott and was still interested in seeing this, until the reviewer started comparing it to ‘noah’, one of the worst movies in recent years (that actually didn’t star tom cruise)…seems the reviewer found favor in that flick, so i don’t put too much hope into this turn of events…

  28. Truth Cannot Be Destroyed nfho says:

    You might as well cast Christian Bale as the Qing Emperor of China or as an Aztec King because Ridley Scott and Fox are playing games with history by casting European Caucasians as Egyptians eons before the Ptolomaic Greeks entered and intermixed with the black Egyptian population. The depiction of Egyptians as being Caucasians is a complete joke.

    • Egptologists would find issue with you declaring that the Ancient Egyptians were black. Nubians were black, but Egyptians were North African and decidedly Semitic.

    • nerdrage says:

      Then why did the Egyptians themselves depict Nubians as being a different color in their own artworks? Egyptians in red, Nubians in black…ancient Egyptians looked like Turturro and Kingsley, not like Bale and Weaver so the cast is still too light, but a cast of Jewish, Italian and Arab actors – Mediterranean types – would have been reasonably accurate.

  29. Skip Press says:

    The phrase “skillfully elided” sums up your review and probably Ridley Scott’s movie and his general ethos. You could simply have said “omitted” or “left out” for the normal people who make up 97% of the moviegoing audience. The fact that you seem to care more for the wowing via image rather than the message of Moses, aliigning yourself with Scott’s normal movie mien, tells me my initial impression of this movie is correct. It’s mostly flash and not enough substance – Bale’s pronunciation and use of Americanized vernacular in a trailer gave me the initial impression. Cable.

    • Susan says:

      Or, you know, maybe the use of vernacular was intended to make things accessible to the audience. The language was probably only really formalized (and by that, I mean made final AND put into formal period Hebrew) in about the First Century. At first, all of this stuff was a collection of different stories in oral tradition, as told by a multitude of cities, towns, villages, nomadic groups, families–I’m pretty sure the Tanakh contains some bedtime stories–complete with differing versions of the same story. Very little was written down, and that was mostly for the Leviim and Kohanim. (See, Leviticus. All of it. Those laws don’t actually apply to anyone else, and they have a lot more in common with Babylonian Zoroastrianism, especially temple prostitution, than they do with Egypt.)

      Also, there’s a long, glorious history of Jews arguing with, talking back to, and questioning G-d. I mean, what’s the point in a relationship with someone if all you’re gonna do is lie there?

      • Mike says:

        No. If he were trying to make it accessible to the audience, Moses would have texted Ramses or tweeted something nasty about him.

    • Scott says:

      97% of the audience will enjoy this for the fairy tale that it is.

      • Mike says:

        If you consider the Bible, a compilation of many books, fantasy, you believe that nothing written in any of these books is true; none of the people existed, none of the accounts happened, and the cities and countries are fictional places. Is that what you believe?

      • @Mike L: how can you call the bible a history book? To each its own I guess. I consider it a fantasy book, movie too. I hope it’s good.

      • Mike L says:

        How can you call history a fairy tale? So, can I call events that happened in your life a fairy tale simply because I wasn’t there to witness it? Unlike Moses, 1000 years from now you won’t even be a memory.

  30. Thank you Mr. Chang for a most eloquently written article. And Mr. Scott for continually gracing us with your magnificent filmmaking.

  31. WOW so did you like it or what??

  32. Stan Evans says:

    Wait, you’re saying “Noah” was “uncommonly intelligent too? With those giant charcoal briquet monsters and the nutjob on the ark routine? Uh, hardly.

  33. Lex says:

    Quit reading this review when the PC Police comments about casting began. Really? I just wanted to know if the movie was any good. The reviewer’s credibility evaporated with his smug, political arrogance on full display.

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