Thou shalt find this a long film
Ahhhh religion! They love breeding fanatics and fanatics love starting wars. Of course; all that is quietly ignored whilst you’re pompously told how tolerant and peaceful they are hoping that you will ignore science and logic and put your blind faith in mystical beardy man in the sky. Obviously it’s totally fine if you don’t believe this fantasy novel is real… totally fine… you’ll just burn in hell you fucking heathen.
Well. That’s the religious readers suitably offended but hey, they haven’t seen Exodus yet; at least my mocking of religion is satirical.
So it turns out that Moses isn’t an Egyptian prince he’s actually a Hebrew, waves part, he frees slaves, 10 commandments are written. Oops: spoilers! Anyway back to the point of satire because on reflection Exodus has a venomous but subtle exploration of religion as a subtext. I’m not sure if this is even intended but there is no aspect of this film that promotes the positive things that religion can bring to one’s life. The Egyptian’s believe their faith allows them to enslave other races and Moses’ god is quite frankly a bit of an menacing a-hole by bringing suffering to hundreds/thousands in order to achieve his own goals. A bit like a dictatorship really!
So if your faith is so weak that you can’t take criticism you probably want to avoid this film, sit in a dark room and chant that the power of Christ compels you. It’s an interesting dynamic and most likely has been added in because of a line early in the film stating that israelite means those who wrestle with god. That’s exactly what Moses does with God, or rather the messenger of God in this film and precisely for the reasons stated above; Gods methods are objectionable.
Religious connotations aside, it is an acceptable imagining of the trials of Moses in the same way that Robin Hood was an acceptable imagining of that legend. Ridley Scott has been on a run of lackluster films recently and it’s not for a lack of technical ability. Similar to Robin Hood, and indeed Prometheus, the acting, lighting, art direction, cinematography, action sequences, editing, sound design are all fantastic in Exodus but at the same time the film is just quite dull.
It’s too long for a start and it does drag. It also tries to fit too much in. It starts beautifully and establishes Moses firmly as a commander and Prince of Egypt but once eschewed and exiled as a Hebrew he becomes a farmer in 10 minutes flat, gets married in 2 minutes and leaves to free the slaves 5 minutes later, which leaves very little time to build any supporting characters but makes you care as little as a breaking news piece about how the weather forecast is drizzly rain in England, again.
In fact it’s not just the goat farming scene that drops supporting characters. Sir Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul are all in this film but they are made so irrelevant you could replace them with any excess Christmas dinner and you’d still have a coherent film.
Apart from the staples of all Scott’s films there are a couple of aspects worth noting. Firstly the world building is almost second to none. Egypt really does look exactly how you would imagine ancient Egypt; expansive, dusty yet lined with lush foliage along the river, epic architecture splattered across the land to inspire a nation. It goes further than that though. The scale and population makes the world feel alive with activity.
Another aspect of the film which is notably excellent is the costume design which is so tactile you could reach out and eat whatever is draped over almost any character in the film.
In short the film definitely has all the hieroglyphs of an epic of biblical proportions but in the end the film suffers from a number of plagues: it’s too long, it’s too dull in places and it’s supporting cast floating down the Nile without a paddle.
- Standard, well produced, Ridley Scott film
- Brings Egypt to life
- Superb costume design
- If you are Christian
- It’s long
- The middle of the film drags