Exodus: Gods and Kings

Exodus: Gods and Kings ★★★½

I was very unfair to Exodus on first viewing. Turns out to be more in the realm of Body of Lies, a merely good film that doesn't threaten to stand out and flourish as anything particularly exceptional, but gets all the fundamentals right. Both also suffer on first take from a somewhat dourer regional colour palette and complex protagonist doubts over their enterprising toil and ramifications at the behest of some greater power, which wasn't seen in his early 2000s epics.

As a kid that grew up obsessed with biblical tales and their various film and televisual depictions, I felt like I knew Exodus in & out, but I guess not. My first viewing could be chalked up to an adjustment period, but as with Legend (which I similarly hated around the same time, and rated poorly not once, but twice before seeing the light), it might be more to do with coming around to Ridley Scott of late. After all, I remember liking Noah of the same year, which also takes some logical liberties with the well-worn tale. No, I had issues with the editing, the casting, the grounding, the auteur focus. I was wrong on all counts. I'm still a little suspect on the Paul and Weaver casting choices (despite their adequacy), and a lot of stars have to make-do with smallish appearances, but I get it now and quite like it despite a sense of limitation. The scenes between Moses and Malak are highlights, and I'm cool with Edgerton and Mendelsohn now. Bale is doing his thankless everyman to excellent effect.

Exodus: Gods and Kings should age better than most Moses depictions, and as someone with a deceased younger brother (of similar age difference) I felt glimmers of this throughout the film in Ridley's dedication. The theme of wrestling with the word of god and negotiating his demands proves very poignant, and even more heroic and collaborative.

PS - Ridley Scott mentions having seen Animal Kingdom on the audio commentary.

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