Exodus: Gods And Kings, film review: Ridley Scott’s biblical epic fails to catch fire

(12A) Dir. Ridley Scott; Starring Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, 150mins
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The Independent Culture

"I need a general," God says to Moses (Christian Bale) "... to fight." Well he's come to the right place. Bale's Moses is introduced in an early large-scale battle scene as a hunky, sword-wielding man of action.

Even after his true parenthood is revealed and he is demoted from the rank of Egyptian general and exiled from the palace, he is never more than a few sword-lengths away from a fight scene. He also has a leader's certitude, and suffers none of the doubts that, for example, Russell Crowe's Noah could be seen wrestling with in cinemas earlier in the year. This, despite the fact that God appears to him in the frankly unimpressive form of a dirty-faced 10-year-old boy (Isaac Andrews).

Ridley Scott's adaptation of the Book of Exodus is a straightforward swords-and-sandals action film, with precious little characterisation and even less theology. What you do get are 3D effects; costumes and interiors to rival the opulence of the 1963 film Cleopatra; lots of chariot racing; massive digitally generated armies and processions of Israelites; and some impressively gruesome plagues of frogs, boils and, erm, giant alligators.

It's a story that has been told and retold for thousands of years, but this po-faced, dutifully spectacular retelling barely lingers in the memory beyond the end credits. Released on Boxing Day