Exodus: Gods and Kings ★★★

Viewed purely as a cinematic spectacle of literally biblical proportions, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" doesn’t disappoint. Director Ridley Scott and the team of screenwriters—Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian—provide enough interesting material to hold the viewer’s attention for the duration of the film’s 150-minute running time.

More specifically, I quite liked how the movie treats the Plagues of Egypt. It adds a scientific aspect to most of them without at the same time denying divine causation. The filmmakers’ more modern interpretation of the ten plagues is a rather clever conceit that strengthens Exodus: Gods and Kings as a whole.

The proceedings have an obvious problem: anyone with even a passing knowledge of the Old Testament knows what will happen. However, that particular issue turns out to be less problematic than might be expected. Instead, the film stumbles when it comes to involving the viewer emotionally. Scott and company’s somewhat clinical approach to the story and characters negatively affects one’s emotional investment in the movie. For instance, the dynamic between Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) could have been a little more nuanced.

Director of photography Dariusz Wolski gives the film an expectedly warm, predominantly sun-scorched look. The visual effects are completely convincing and leave absolutely nothing to be desired. Alberto Iglesias delivers a suitably epic musical score that serves its purpose well without drawing too much attention to itself.

Christian Bale slips comfortably into the role of Moses with seemingly almost no effort at all and anchors "Exodus: Gods and Kings" with his solid, commanding acting. A hard-to-recognize Joel Edgerton gives a powerful performance as Ramses. Several well-known thespians, including John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley, have only relatively small parts to play; underused, yes, but certainly not miscast. It must also be said that I was impressed by young Isaac Andrews, who plays the difficult role of Malak, a very important character in the story, with aplomb.

I attended a 2D screening of "Exodus: Gods and Kings". While I’m sure that some scenes in the film benefit from being seen in 3D—take, for example, the arrival of the flies and, later, the grasshoppers, and the rousing climax—I don’t think that my not watching the movie in 3D had a significant impact on my opinion of it.