Gladiator director Ridley Scott crafts an epic 3D drama on the Old Testament story of Moses, headlining the ever-watchable Christian Bale. The 150-minute film traces the transformation of Moses from a general in the Pharaoh’s army in Egypt to a leader of the Hebrew slaves, guiding 600,000 of them to freedom and a new homeland.

The action unfolds at a time when Hebrews have been enslaved for around 400 years. Ramses (Joel Edgerton) takes over as the Pharaoh and Moses discovers his true identity—not a high-born, but a Hebrew. Exiled from Memphis, the capital, Moses begins a long journey, finally settling down in an idyllic village, marrying a local girl and living the life of a shepherd. His identity crisis, underlined by a questioning of his faith, sets him off on a dangerous path which leads to the realization that he must indeed free his people and guide them to safety.

Visually most dramatic are the scenes of the Biblical plagues—unleashed by God (presented as a boy child) on Egypt to force the release of the slaves: Water is turned into blood, livestock is inflicted with a fatal disease, the kingdom is overrun by frogs and locusts, and the life is sucked out of firstborns.

Scott also delivers large-scale battle scenes leading to the climactic crossing of the drained-out Red Sea with Ramses and his army close on the heels of the fleeing thousands. After a few breathless, scaled-up set pieces, the film whimpers, ending with Moses on the move with his tribe, having engraved the 10 Commandments.

John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley add support in this sometimes campy and shallow, sometimes solemn but mostly absorbing, interpretation of the story of Moses.

Exodus: Gods and Kings released in theatres on Friday.

Close