FlixChatter Review: EXODUS: Gods and Kings (2014)

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Sir Ridley Scott maybe the most inconsistent successful film director ever, he first burst into fame by directing Alien in 1979 but made two big budget misfires a few years later, Blade Runner and Legend. He came back into prominence again in 1991 with Thelma & Louise, but the rest of his work in the 90s were mostly forgotten. Not until 2000 when he finally became an A-list director by making Gladiator and many of his films in that decade were very successful. He’s now back with another big budget period epic adventure, but unfortunately I think it might be one of his worst films.

Before I go into the review, I would like to note that I’m not a religious person so I don’t know the story of Moses, heck I’ve never seen The Ten Commandments so I went into this movie with zero knowledge of the subject.

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In the Egyptian city of Memphis, the film introduced us to Moses (Christian Bale) and Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), they’re preparing to go into a battle and getting a blessing from King Seti (John Turturro) who also happens to be Rhamses’ father. Right away we get the feeling that there’s some kind of animosity between Moses and Rhamses and the King seems to have more love for Moses than his own son. During the battle, Moses saved Rhamses’ life and this somehow made him resent Moses even more. In the said scene, Rhamses was so offended he even considered killing Moses. After defeating their enemies, both Moses and Rhamses were heralded as heroes back in their hometown. Again King Seti seem to be more impressed with Moses than his own son, later on he told Rhamses to go and check up on a close by city because some of the slaves aren’t behaving. Not expecting to receive this kind of menial task from the king, Rhamses was not happy. So Moses volunteered to go instead. Upon arriving at the city, Moses met with the elders of the slaves including its leader Nun (Ben Kingsley). It’s here that Nun confronted Moses and told him that he’s a Hebrew and needs to lead his people to freedom. Of course Moses didn’t believe a word of what Nun said. I think anyone who’s familiar with the story probably already know what’s going to happen so I won’t go deeper into the plot of the movie.

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Scott is known for being a perfectionist when it comes to how his films should look and here again his film looks spectacular. Shot natively in 3D, the effects were very immersive, but unfortunately he only included some few WOW 3D effects. So save yourself some money and see it on 2D instead. I haven’t mentioned about the plagues and the Red Sea parting scene because even though the effects were great, I wasn’t so into the movie so I didn’t even care about them. Aside from the visual aesthetics, the movie itself was kind of mediocre. For the first hour or so I thought this was made by a amateur director. The story narrative was all over the place and the editing was even worse. I’m quite sure we’ll get the inevitable longer “Director’s Cut” version when it comes out on video. I’m not quite sure of what he’s trying to say about the main leads, especially Moses. He started out as some kind of a non-believer but then out of nowhere became this savior who only answers to God. Maybe because I’m not familiar with the story and also a non-believer, I just didn’t buy into his transformation. For those expecting to see a Gladiator or even Kingdom of Heaven action style, you’ll be sorely disappointed. The movie contained one big action sequence but the marketing folks did a good job of promoting the movie as this non-stop action/adventure.

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There’s been a lot of controversies when it comes to the cast, the filmmakers decided to cast mostly Caucasian actors in the lead roles. Truth be told, many of them look kind of ridiculous with heavy tanning and make up, especially Joel Edgerton. Personally I don’t have any issues with the casting, I mean this is a $140mil Hollywood produced movie and they need to cast some well-known actors to get their money back. Controversies aside, most of the actors were pretty good in their respective roles. This is a Christian Bale‘s movie since he appeared on the screen 90% of the time. Even though I thought the role was poorly written, Bale did what he could with the material. Edgerton was also good playing the “villain.” I don’t think I’ve seen him in any other movie except the atrocious Star Wars Episode 2. Here he played a pretty menacing character and he even outshone Bale in a couple of scenes they appeared together.

I’m pretty sure Sigourney Weaver must’ve been quite upset when she sees the final movie since she appeared on the screen for only about 5 minutes and spoke about 5 lines of dialogs. I’m guessing most of her scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. Ben Kingsley did a fine job as this Yoda kind of role. The oddest person in the cast here is Aaron “Jesse” Paul, he played this sidekick to Moses and I just thought he’s way out of his elements here. Another bad casting is John Turturro, he looks ridiculous in the weird make up and spoke with a weird accent that I wanted to laugh when he appears on screen.

For all the bad casting, writing and directing, the worse crime this movie committed was that it’s so boring! I actually dosed off a couple of times during the screening. This was yet another misfire from a director whose career may need to come to an end. I can forgive the bad editing and writing if the movie was entertaining, unfortunately it’s just a bad movie that can’t be saved even though it looks so good.

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Have you seen Exodus? Well, what did you think?

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27 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: EXODUS: Gods and Kings (2014)

  1. For some reason, I feel like this is an unnecessary film that needed to be told since it is always going to pale to The Ten Commandments which is a film that lived up to being an epic. I think Ridley Scott needs to retire. He just doesn’t have it anymore.

      1. Tom

        Oh wow, Ted. Thanks for the update.

        I sometimes don’t know how to read comments like that, but I certainly wasn’t trying to be mean or anything. The comment simply surprised me. Having not seen Blade Runner, I don’t know what to think of the film yet. I can’t wait to get to it. But I think the nature of the “big budget misfire” comment has been popular surrounding Scott’s film, and I just have always been curious why. I have read on several great sites that it has got valid reasons for being slammed, and just as many valid reasons for being praised. So at the end of the day I need to see the thing for myself and make up my own mind. 🙂

        Again, thanks for the insight. Will definitely take a look at those links you provided.

        1. Ted S.

          No worries Tom, I didn’t think you were being mean at all! I think I should’ve word it different when I wrote that sentence. I highly recommend Blade Runner, it has so much influences on so many films after it came out. Chris Nolan used it as a basis for his Batman films.

          Thanks for reading my review and comments! 🙂

          1. Tom

            Oh for sure. You always have interesting things to say. Yeah, I’ve been somewhat aware of the influence Blade Runner has had on the Nolian Batman films, that’s just great. I really can’t wait to dive into the film myself

  2. Well Ted, let’s just say I’m glad I didn’t go to the press screening. I might just rent it later just to see how bad it was, ahah. As a Christian, obviously I’m very familiar w/ the Moses story and it doesn’t look at all like what’s depicted in the trailers of Exodus.

    1. Ted S.

      It might be a good rental but maybe just wait till it hits Netflix or some other streaming services. Maybe when the eventual director’s cut comes out, the movie might be decent. The director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven was a huge improvement over the atrocious theatrical cut.

  3. Really enjoyed the review Ted even though I had a totally different reaction to the film. I’m a big fan of Ridley Scott and I almost cried when you called Blade Runner a “misfire” 🙂 I actually like the different spins he has put on the “epic” over the last several years. He’s definitely a favorite director of mine.

    I gotta say I really enjoyed this movie. I like that Scott didn’t turn this into a huge sprawling action epic and I actually didn’t mind the slower pacing. And I thought the visuals were just incredible – possibly the best I’ve seen this year. I saw it in 3D (I had no choice) and actually didn’t mind it. And I found the film so much better than the lame and sometimes downright stupid “Noah” from earlier this year. I also really liked the two lead performances.

    I figure the only things we will agree on are certain blunders with the pacing and some gaps in the plot that needed filled. Otherwise I was surprised by “Exodus”.

    1. Ted S.

      Oh you know what, I was referring to Blade Runner’s box office misfire, I personally love the film. I guess I should’ve written that sentence differently, ha ha. Also, Blade Runner didn’t get a lot of rave reviews when it’s first released in theaters, it didn’t become a “hit” until years later. The film sort of have the same reputation as 2001: A Space Odyssey, wasn’t well loved by many but now they’re both considered sci-fi classics.

      As for Exodus, I wish I could say I enjoyed it but I tried hard to stay awake while watching it. The movie just bored the heck out of me. I haven’t seen NOAH yet but I have the Bluray at home, got it cheap on Black Friday. I’ll watch it eventually since I’m a big fan of Darren Aronofsky.

  4. Inconsistent seems a fair word Ted. When he’s good he’s great (Alien, Blade Runner, Gladiator) but when he’s bad he’s awful (A Good Year etc). Will the real Ridley Scott please stand up?!

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, if you look at his work they’re quite inconsistent. He made Alien and Blade Runner, two great films but then throughout the 80s, his work were forgettable. I did like Black Rain a lot though. Then in the 90s he made one decent movie but the rest were all forgotten. At least in 2000s he made some very good flicks, Gladiator, American Gangster, Black Hawk Down and Matchstick Men.

  5. Great review, Ted! Ruth told me that we’re on the same side about this movie, alas, she’s right.
    Perhaps, Mr. Scott should take some real hiatus… this decade has been terrible for him (I still like Prometheus tho).

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks! I didn’t have much expectations for this one and thought it would at least be entertaining but it’s so bad I wanted to walk out of the theater. Yeah this decade hasn’t been that great on Sir Scott, I enjoyed Prometheus too but hated Robin Hood. The Counselor was a miss opportunity for him since I thought he did a good job directing it but the script was a mess.

  6. Nice review, Ted. Yeah, this one didn’t do it for me, either, and you’re not kidding that it’s boring, and the editing is ALL over the place. Hell, even the big spectacle shots looked pretty pathetic in the end, IMO. This was just a pretty bland dud.

    1. Ted S.

      Yeah, I don’t mind if the movie was badly written or directed as long as it’s entertaining. But this movie was just boring and bad and I still can’t believe it’s made by a man who directed one of my all time favorite films, Blade Runner.

  7. I’m happy to have not seen this either. I am a Christian, and I’m very curious about seeing this at some point. I will probably rent it. But I’m glad I didn’t waste the money at the theater. Great review, Ted!

    1. Ted S.

      Thanks Kristin! Yeah save your money and wait till it hits home video, like I mentioned they’ll probably release the “Director’s Cut” anyway.

  8. Nice review Ted, considering you didn’t like the film I like how you explained the reaspning behind it. The trailers in the theater at first look seemed awesome, then the more I saw the commercials for this, the worse it looked. What you said about the actors being tanned to look ethnic, yup that is annoying and I think that is what looks weird about this film. You see the promos and what not for this and you can’t help but think what the hell is going on here. Edgerton was also the villain in the Great Gatsby, I like that actor, but for this role he just seems like an odd choice. Ok enough ranting! Great job Ted!

    1. Ted S.

      Lol! Yeah those actors looked quite ridiculous with heavy tanning and weird make up. From the trailer I thought it would at least be entertaining, I was actually hoping for more action/adventure kind of movie. But the actual movie was boring! Edgerton was good as the villain but his weird make up was kind of distracting, at least he didn’t speak with weird accent; that would’ve been worse.

  9. Haha, Ridley Scott is very inconsistent, but I always forgive him, since I consider Alien and Blade Runner (the director’s cut) masterpieces. 🙂 I didn’t find this one boring, even if it was unengaging and a bit flat at times. Also, I was impressed by Isaac Andrews’ brief, striking performance as God in the form of a child. I’ll be interested to see what he does next.

    1. Ted S.

      Hey Josh, yeah Scott’s career is quite interesting before 2000s. Blade Runner is one of my top 5 favorite films (I still prefer the original international cut but the final cut is great too) and I start to like Alien more and more, wasn’t that impressed with it the first time I saw it.

      I can’t find anything to enjoy about Exodus, I think I may have dosed off about 30 minutes in. But I agree that the kid who played “God” was good for such a young actor.

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