Exodus Gods and Kings DVD Review

DVD Review by Jon E Clist
Exodus: Gods and Kings

The Premise
Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

The Review
This has been the year of biblical epics with the earlier release of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and now Ridley Scott brings to life one of the most amazing stories from the Old Testament in the form of Exodus: Gods and Kings. To be honest I am not completely sure as to why more secular film makers haven’t made more films from the biblical stories. When you read through the Old Testament there are some pretty amazing stories that involved violence, betrayal, miracles, love, hate and a whole pile of amazing characters. I guess it was really just a matter of time before more started hitting the big screen. We also saw the team from television’s epic miniseries, The Bible do a bit of an edit to make a Christ centered cinematic release with The Son of God.

Well in general, Aronofsky took a lot of liberties with the biblical source material for his version of the Noah story, whereas here it is historical records that Scott skirts around. In general he does a pretty good job of sticking to the biblical account of the story while tweaking moments in order to benefit the flow of the plot. There are parts that are left out and characters that are visually a little different to how they have been described to be however the bones of the story appears intact. As we have read in more recent times Egypt has banned the film due to its historical inaccuracies such as the scenes showing the Israelites building the Sphinx and some of the great pyramids. History tells us that these were built hundreds if not thousands of years before the Israelites were in Egyptian captivity. However I guess haters are gonna hate, after all it is just a film.

I think there will be plenty of comparisons with Noah, when considering this film and it is interesting to note that both directors do have several things in common, one of which is casting thoughts. Darren Aronofsky originally wanted Christian Bale to play the title role in Noah but Bale had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. The role ultimately went to Russell Crowe, who is a frequent Ridley Scott collaborator and was seen in one of his most successful films, Gladiator. Bale was later cast as Moses in this Scott-helmed feature.

Ridley Scott in action with Sigourney Weaver
Here I think that Ridley Scott has done a great job of interpreting a spiritual story that is tied deeply in several different religious movements in a manner that respects the source material but turns it into a good standalone plot. In an interview with Esquire magazine, Ridley Scott called religion "the biggest source of evil", explaining, "Everyone is tearing each other apart in the name of their personal god. And the irony is, by definition, they're probably worshiping the same god". In another interview, Scott claimed that being an agnostic was a good quality for directing a Biblical story "because I've got to convince myself the story works".
Perhaps this is what makes it work, a kind of personal separation from the emotion behind the story and how it fits into the whole context of the religious writings.

Now at two and a half hours this is not a short film and yet I felt it was paced well and there weren’t many moments where you felt it either dragged or lost its relevance. For a story like this that must be hard to achieve as there is plenty of context and backstory that need to be built into it in order to create the full scene. It is amazing to see two men who have been raised as brothers, end up needing to go face to face to fight for two different nations at odds.

Which leads me to these two great actors in the leading roles of Moses and the Ramses. Christian Bale brings the serious tones to all of his films and you certainly wonder if he would be able to ever do comedy and yet I guess in American Hustle he danced around comedy without really doing humour. Bale has an intensity that is like a black hole, whose gravity sucks all into its gaze. In the Batman films he broods and in Terminator Salvation he carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. Here he broods while carried the weight of a nation’s survival on his broad shoulders.

Then you have the white Australian Egyptian, Joel Edgerton. There has been plenty of negative comments roaming the internet, most of which came long before the film had been seen by anyone and I have to say that I really feel as though they were unwarranted and so very much off the mark. I think he has done a wonderful job of portraying a young Pharaoh whose pride and sense of self-importance seasoned with self-doubt gets in the way of him truly being a great king.

However the cast doesn't stop with just these two and throughout the story we see a hugely impressive ensemble cast unrolled before our eyes. John Turturro and Sigourney Weaver are joined by Ben Mendolsohn bring power and authority to the Eqyptians while Sir Ben Kingsley and Aaron Paul smash out the Israelites with a gritty and yet a sense of the sacred.

The Verdict
A biblical tale of epic proportion that deserves to be seen on the big screen due to its massive nature and sweeping scenes. Great dramatic story pulled together in a dazzling style.

The Trailer

The Info
DVD Releases: 29th April 2015
Rating: M – Contains violence
Duration: 150 minutes 
Genre:  Drama Action
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul and Ben Kingsley
Director: Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Alien, Blade Runner)

The Extras
Filmed in 74 days.

The film was originally called simply "Exodus", but it later received the subtitle "Gods and Kings" because 20th Century Fox could not procure the rights for "Exodus" alone from MGM, who owns the rights through the unrelated film Exodus (1960).

Ben Kingsley who will play the character "Nun" in this film, portrayed Moses in the film Moses (1995) where Ben Kingsley rescues the Jewish people from Egyptian slavery.

To prepare for his role as Moses, Christian Bale quickly surpassed Sunday school basics and delved into scripture and literary works. He read the first five books of the Bible, the Koran, as well as Louis Ginzberg's classic, "Legends of the Jews" and Jonathan Kirsch's "Moses, A Life."

Joel Edgerton found out about getting the role of Ramses when he received multiple congratulatory emails from people who had heard about his casting online.

Gods and Kings was also the name of another Moses film that was once in development under the direction of Steven Spielberg.

Apart from Moses, Christian Bale has previously played another major biblical figure - Jesus of Nazareth in the 1999 TV movie Mary, Mother of Jesus.

Dedicated to Tony Scott, Ridley Scott's brother who died in 2012.