Moses (Christian Bale) grows up as brothers with Rhamses (Joel Edgerton). As they embark on a battle for the Pharaoh Seti, the high priestess predicts that whoever will save Rhamses’ life in the battle will be the one to lay claim to the throne of Egypt. Moses saves Rhamses in the battle but the Pharaoh is convinced of his obedience. Time goes on and soon Moses comes in contact with a Hebrew slave known as Nun (Ben Kingsley) who tells Moses that he is Hebrew and not Egyptian and also tells him that he may be the one to lead the 400,000 slaves out of their misery.
Moses is subsequently double crossed by a higher official who poisons Rhamses who is now the Pharaoh and gets Moses banished from the kingdom along with his mother Bithia and sister Miriem. Moses saves his own life from the assassins sent by Rhamses to kill him off and finds a safe heaven. Eventually he is visited upon by god himself sending him en-route to the Hebrew slave colonies where he starts training the slaves for rebellion. This is also the time when Egypt comes face to face with the wrath of God in the form of the biblical plagues. The final stand off between the brothers would decide the fate of the Hebrews in Egypt.
Exodus: Gods And King is Ridley Scott’s tribute to the Ten Commandments. His film has the advantage of using the best in visual wizardry coming ages after the original and also has the added advantage of using 3D which happens to elevate the look and feel of the era. The initial previews of the film communicated it to be an out an out action film with the drama thrown in to feel up the gaps between the set pieces. However the film turns out to be exactly the opposite. While the first battle sequence unfolds within the first ten minutes of the film the next takes well over an hour and a half to see light.
What happens in between is a lot of drama involving actors who are equal to the task but I have to admit that the audience does get a tad bit restless owing to the amount of time the story takes to get to the point. The plagues are depicted in their ferocity and these are some of the scenes which will easily make you jump out of your seats at more than one instance. The visual effects are exemplary. What I found really commendable about the visual effects was that they were done in a way which was to just bring to life the era and age that the film traces back to. They have done away with unnecessary gloss and uncalled for vitality which really goes down well with the mood of the film.
Having said that the visuals are still the most striking attribute of this film. Be it the large scale battle sequences or the plagues or the climax for that matter, the visual effects successfully transports Scott’s imagination on screen. I only wish there was more of it. This brings me to the point that this film could have done with a little more action. Being an action junkie and lover of films like Troy, 300 and Gladiator, I felt that this film ran a little thin on the action front. While the expectations were wonderfully built up, they were not substantially met with actions on screen.
Coming to the performances, Christian Bale takes center stage as expected and holds his own throughout the screening. He ages with the film and his mannerism and performance is in keeping with the age that he piles on. Joel Edgerton as the merciless Pharaoh is perfect. The rest of the cast chip in with some meaningful performance with Ben Kingsley, the king of friendly appearances, getting the meatiest of small roles. However the ultimate miscast fiasco happens in the case of John Turturro, the lunatic from the Transformers franchise playing the Pharaoh Seti. It could be just the case with me but every look at his face makes me only picturize him as the fast talking conspiracy theorist and nothing more. So Seti didn’t work out for me.
Scott mounts his psychodrama on the grandest of scales possible and presents you with a monumental epic in terms of visual effects and sheer scale. The film might run a tad bit low on the story front but what it lacks in story it more than makes up for in its breathtaking visuals and epic scale. The broodingly intelligent performance from Bale is another draw to the film. Exodus: Gods and Kings is a sizable epic which is easy on the mind and amazing to the eye. It might not be a classic but it does entertain and dazzle throughout. Give it a watch for sure.