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Review: Exodus is a good time-pass film

By Paloma Sharma
Last updated on: December 05, 2014 17:41 IST
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Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods And KingsExodus: Gods And Kings doesn't exactly have the greatest screenplay of all time but what it lacks in the writing department, it makes up for with stunning visuals, says Paloma Sharma.

Ridley Scott, the director, who gave us big budget epics like Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, brings to the silver screen the Biblical tale of Moses.

Exodus: Gods And Kings is possibly the last of a list of faith-based dramas this year -- the others being Son of God, Noah and Heaven is For Real -- and is definitely the best we've seen in the category so far.

Bithia (Hiam Abbass), the daughter of the Pharaoh Seti I (John Turturro), was bathing in the Nile when she finds a basket with a baby in it floating down the river. Bithia takes the infant home with her and raises him as her own. She names him Moses.

Moses (Christian Bale) grows up as royalty, sharing a close yet competitive relationship with his step brother and Pharaoh-to-be Ramesses II (Joel Edgerton). When Ramesses becomes Pharaoh, Moses becomes his chief advisor.

On a visit to a construction site, Moses meets a Hebrew elder named Nun (Ben Kingsley), who tells him that he is not Egyptian but Hebrew, much like the rest of the slaves who toil day and night to finish the construction of the Pharaoh's grand monuments.

Nun reveals that Moses is the Messiah who, according to a prophecy, is meant to deliver them from 400 years of slavery.

Moses refuses to believe him but when Ramesses finds out, he sends his chief advisor into exile out of fear that Moses will free the Hebrew slaves and cause the downfall of the Egyptian Empire.

Moses must now choose between revolting against his brother and king in order to carry out the prophecy or failing to implement the will of God.

Exodus doesn't exactly have the greatest screenplay of all time but what it lacks in the writing department, it makes up for with stunning visuals.

The costumes, the sets, the extravagance and the white people playing characters of Middle Eastern/North African origin will fill you with awe and wonderment.

Exodus is all about the stuff on the surface and it is best left that way. To dig too deep would be futile.

Scott clearly targets a more skeptical audience with his film and it is refreshing to see a religious figure, considered to be a hero by many, fighting with and questioning God and His mysterious ways. However, the lack of character development turns Scott's Moses into another run-of-the-mill messiah by the end of the film.

What make Exodus really work are the strong performances by Bale and Edgerton.

Christian Bale portrays Moses as a man of reason, who can neither comprehend the God of the Hebrews nor can he agree with Ramesses' claim of being a God-king; and as Moses' frustration with God's plan increases, so does the quality of Bale's performance.

However, it is Joel Edgerton as Ramesses who steals the show. Edgerton's Ramesses is wonderfully self-obsessed and cannot see beyond his own greed for power. He is an oppressive tyrant, undoubtedly, but also a loving husband and father. Edgerton makes Ramesses II is the kind of evil that you love to hate and hate to love.

Exodus is beautifully shot and though Scott recreates a Biblical epic, he does not make it over the top. In a time when every film is needlessly shot in 3D, The film is not a complete waste of the format but definitely is not IMAX worthy.

Exodus is bound to rile up believers but it will definitely bore skeptics as soon as the second half begins because although it begins with Moses rebelling, it offers very little insight.

Exodus is a good time-pass film. However, if you've watched The Prince of Egypt (1998), then skip this one.

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