'Exodus: Gods and Kings' Film Review

A few months ago, I watched one of the most heretical and just plain bad movies I have ever seen when I decided to watch Noah. I knew going into it that it would be terrible but I decided to give it a watch to see just how bad it was. Long story short, it's bad, and instead of getting myself riled up about it by writing a review here, I decided to just skip that part and meditate on the Scripture the film was, very loosely, based off of.

However, last night I went with my brother and best friend to go see the latest biblically based film to be released this year - Exodus: Gods and Kings - which had turned out to be about 100 times better than Noah was and ever could be. Exodus is obviously based off the story of Moses written by him in the Book of Exodus (this film covers primarily chapters 1-14 with chapter 20 seen at the end) and covers his time as part of the Egyptian military all the way until he's close to death. This being said, let me explain the three things I wasn't too fond of in the film before I move onto what I did like:
  1. The interpretation of GOD - Here's the thing about Exodus' interpretation of God, they were bound to get it wrong. Ridley Scott, the director of this film, has explored the roots of Christianity before with Kingdom of Heaven (another really good movie about the Crusades), but his biggest films have always been things like Alien, Blade Runner, and Prometheus, the last of which talks about aliens as the creators of humanity. So naturally I was a little hesitant going in. Here's my problem with this interpretation, I don't like the fact that God has to speak through a vision of a small child (who is supposed to be the "Angel of the Lord") who feels like part of an exorcist movie. The kid was creeping me out the whole time!!! This being said, the actual lines that "God" spoke themselves aren't necessarily bad, but the idea of a child being the "mediator" between the Great I Am and Moses is totally wrong and all around creepy. I would have much rather had the disembodied voice of Morgan Freeman.
  2. Crossing the Red Sea - Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with Moses and Israel crossing the Red Sea in the film, it's a matter of HOW it gets done that bothers me. In the movie, they begin crossing the sea by walking THROUGH the water. Then later, we see that the water has actually receded back into the ocean instead of being parted. In Scripture, we know that God actually PARTS the Red Sea. This means, one column of water on one side, another on the other side, and a pathway of sand in the middle. That's how it's done. However, this film seems to forget about the spectacular-ness of God and His miracles and tries to go for a more "realistic" approach to the event... (It's called a "miracle" and "the supernatural" for a reason people...). On top of that, Moses almost dies because he barely makes it across. Now, I wasn't there when Moses and his people crossed the Red Sea some couple thousand years ago, but I don't believe that the real Book of Exodus says that he almost died crossing, not to mention that I don't believe that God would have closed the Red Sea BEFORE everyone was across... Could you imagine, "Oh, sorry Moses, I forgot you where there, leading My people and all, My bad..."
  3. The small little things - Moses didn't kill an Egyptian to save a Hebrew slave, but he DID kill one in an alley for no apparent reason. The way they started the 1st of the 10 Plagues of Egypt, the water turning to blood, wasn't necessarily biblically accurate but I actually thought it made sense, more on that later. Moses never carried Aaron's staff anywhere, also he didn't take Aaron anywhere either. Moses never questioned God about speaking on Israels behalf. Ramses doesn't seem to care about the Egyptian gods at all (which I don't morally have an issue with but based on history that wouldn't be the case when he's the Pharaoh...). Lastly, the whole film kinda built up to a Moses/Ramses fight that we never actually got to see... Which is kinda sad. Even though that doesn't happen in Scripture, I felt kinda empty afterwards because the movie built towards it since like the first scene. Also we didn't get to see Moses' staff snake eat Pharaoh's two demons snakes... That was sad...
Now, these are just the things that either bothered me or I had a problem with in the film, but I don't want to leave you with the notion that I didn't enjoy it, because quite on the contrary, I really had a good time seeing this movie (even if it is over 2 hours long).

One of the things I loved about this movie was their interpretation of Moses. In Exodus, Moses is an Egyptian general. He does not know of his own heritage and when the previous Pharaoh dies, he becomes Ramses' adviser. I like how, much like Prince of Egypt (but without the catchy music), Moses and Ramses are as close as brothers and they would (and occasionally do) protect and even die for one another because of their brotherly love and friendship. We are shown the warrior side of Moses that we don't hear much about in Scripture. Based on Scripture, we do know that Moses grew up with the royal family of Egypt and obviously held some sort of power, but we haven't ever been told what exactly he did, thus I enjoy this interpretation of him as a general in the Egyptian army and a warrior. It gives a certain strength and power to Moses that we would only get in an interpretation like this. 

My buddy and I especially like the scene when Moses is conversing with God/Angel of the Lord where he says that he wants the Plagues to stop because it's painful for him to see the people he grew up with suffer as they are, which is a very human, emotional response to this situation. To me, it takes Moses off that immortal religion patriarchal pedestal that we always put him on and it makes him a man just like we are, which I think is great.

Sidebar - I also thought Joel Edgerton did a FANTASTIC job as Ramses! He played an amazing Egyptian Pharaoh and since I know they're rebooting the Stargate film, I feel like he would play the perfect Ra... Also aliens built the pyramids not Hebrews... Okay sidebar over.

Kind of going off of that, the battle scenes in this movie are done so well! You see Moses, Ramses, and the Egyptian army take on the Hittites at the beginning of the film, which is really well done and an exciting action sequence. I guess that's what happens when you get the guy who directed Kingdom of Heaven and Gladiator to make a Moses movie!

The fact that they showed the Golden Calf at the end was kind of shocking because we weren't sure it that would be shown or not, but it was and so were the 10 Commandments, so that was cool!

Visually, the Red Sea scene was beautiful. Biblically, kind of inaccurate.

Holy crap, Israel is huge!!! I never thought about how many people Moses was leading, but wow! I mean, JUST WOW!

I loved all the scenes with Moses and his family (wife and son). They made me smile and tear up, though I'm pretty sure they actually went with him to Egypt and didn't stay behind, but oh well. Also, I loved when Moses saved his sister's hand/life, which ended up being the reason he was exiled from Egypt (you know, instead of him killing a guy and then leaving), which is also inaccurate but it makes for good movie plot. 

Going back to what I said earlier about the 10 Plagues, I actually liked the idea of crocodiles beginning the first plague of water to blood by eating people and each other because it shows God's power over the Egyptian gods, here's why: Sobek is an Egyptian god who is associated with military power and protection. What's interesting about this is that Sobek has a head of a crocodile. So how does this show God's power over Pharaoh and his? Because God, using their "sacred" crocodiles, turned the face of their "protector" into the face of a monster, showing them that power and life is in the blood. Also, I loved how each plague lead into each other and was the result of the previous plague, almost making each plague a consequence of disobedience and disbelief. It's really cool how it all worked out.

Overall, Exodus: Gods and Kings, in my opinion, was a success. It gave us a different perspective on Moses and the 10 Plagues as well as just being entertaining and thought-provoking. I'd easily give it a recommend it and go see it again with the slight warning that, like all biblically based Hollywood films, the ultimate goal of this film is to make money, and the Holy God of the Bible doesn't sell well to the people of Babylon, Sodom, or Gomorrah. That being said, "Let my people go"! (to the movies...)

Rating: B+


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