The story quite obviously takes its cues from the book of Exodus in the Old Testament of the Holy Bible. I use the word “cues,” because that is all that Scott does: take the themes from the story of Moses and crafts his own. A director’s job is to shape a story that he wants to tell, but when you are dealing with a book that millions hold up as “God’s Word,” you do have to treat it with a bit more reverence.
Let’s look at Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”. That film showed its source material the proper respect and also was able to take artistic license without denigrating the material. There is nothing wrong with asking questions of the Bible or Christ. As a matter of fact, the Bible asks you to. Here is the rub: why is it okay in the eyes of Hollywood to lambast the essence of the Bible and its message, when no other spiritual book is treated so flippantly?
This film is bad. In fact, it’s one of Ridley Scott’s worst films. It suffers from what no film should: boredom. Christian Bale, who plays Moses, seems to play the lead character with no real emotion. Moses is a man who has to convey a powerful message from God to the Pharaoh and Bale almost plays it as if he’s resentful of the man he is portraying.
Joel Edgerton plays Ramses, Moses brother; he does his best to make Ramses an intriguing antagonist, but he doesn’t play Ramses as ruler of a country and the hard hearted overlord of hundreds of thousands of slaves. His interactions with Moses seem so extremely uneventful, that you just don’t care about either character or the plight that tears them apart.
The plot of the film, like I said earlier, barely follows the story in the book of Exodus. The artistic liberties taken are downright ridiculous (though not as ridiculous as those in “Noah”). Trying to convince the audience that Moses is given his mission by God, because a rockslide hit him in the head and he starts hallucinating, was a bad judgment call from the filmmakers. The one aspect of the film that actually was interesting was the emergence of the plagues. Trying to explain the plagues as a possible chain reaction of events was a compelling concept. What the filmmakers don’t seem to understand is grasp: what they wanted the audience to accept was more fantastical than what was actually in the Bible. When you see Moses penning the Ten Commandments on stone tablets in the mountains while speaking to God in the form of a child, you realize that film has “jumped the shark” or in this case, the shark has jumped the whole of the Red Sea.
Bale, Edgerton, and Scott have crafted a lackluster film of a Bible story that holds the weight of the origin of God’s chosen people. Not even the supporting cast, including Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver, and John Turturro, add any dimension to this story. Why the filmmaker didn’t just follow the Bible story? It’s so much more compelling and emotionally gripping than story we get here. Do yourself a favor, skip this and, if you are in the mood for a film about the book of Exodus, pray that Moses is played by the great Charlton Heston.