Exodus: Gods and Kings

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(2014) ★★½

Sky Movies Premiere: PREMIERE Friday 25 December, 8pm

Christian Bale as the bulrush foundling who grew up to be the pharoah’s fondest son, upsetting the Seti’s real son Joel Edgerton mightily. By which time both of them know Bale’s true heritage as a Hebrew, the slaves building monuments and pyramids for the greater glory of Egyptian gods and kings. Going further back in time than The Duellists and Kingdom of Heaven, Ridley Scott gives The Ten Commandments a 21st century CGI gloss. An avowed agnostic, Scott brings clutter and ambivalence to a story most famously told on screen by brazen showman Cecil B. DeMille (Sky Movies Select has his 1956 version at midday).

Not for Scott the lurid spectacle of DeMille’s entertainingly tacky epic. As he showed in Kingdom of Heaven, Scott is more interested in the sweep of history and its terrible unlearned lessons of fanatical beliefs and vicious tyranny; the vast quarry at Pithom looks like an infernal Dante design. Edgerton’s Rameses ‘the Great’ wants still more monuments, taller to denote more power. Which with the Seti’s passing he now has (and he’ll abuse it, absolutely). Rameses looks debauched even before the great plagues hit. Moses is noble, of course, but Bale’s an unusually intelligent and instinctive actor (he demonstrated this even as a child, in Empire of the Sun).

He conveys nobility with humility not hubris. Ironically, it’s Rameses who thinks Moses has lost his mind: “He has found a god. His god. Not one of ours.” Seething with killer crocodiles, the Nile runs red. Dead fish bring flies, which attract frogs. Back in the pharoah’s palace, signs are read in the entrails of a goose. A cycle of pestilence and decomposition is set. “So let’s just see who’s more effective at killing,” is Rameses’ reaction. Which sounds pretty much like present day policies all over the world.

It’s a rocky road to Canaan for these chariots of the gods (and kings). The Red Sea is parted, half-heartedly at low tide, and there’s no Golden Calf. In perhaps the most contentious script decision (Scott’s collaborator is his Hannibal and American Gangster screenwriter Steven Zaillian) Moses talks not to a burning bush, but to an obstreperous inner child. The end credit dedication is the film’s most affecting moment: “For my brother, Tony Scott.”

Certificate: 12
Duration: 150min

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Other Showings Date & Time
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 26 December at 11:25AM
Sky Movies Premiere Saturday, 26 December at 10:25PM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 27 December at 10:00AM
Sky Movies Premiere Sunday, 27 December at 5:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 28 December at 9:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Monday, 28 December at 8:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 29 December at 12:00PM
Sky Movies Premiere Tuesday, 29 December at 10:25PM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 30 December at 9:30AM
Sky Movies Premiere Wednesday, 30 December at 10:30PM
Sky Movies Premiere Thursday, 31 December at 9:35AM
Sky Movies Premiere Friday, 1 January at 12:05AM
Sky Movies Premiere Friday, 1 January at 8:25AM
Sky Movies Showcase Sunday, 3 January at 12:00PM
Sky Movies Showcase Sunday, 3 January at 8:00PM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Wednesday, 6 January at 11:00AM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Wednesday, 6 January at 8:00PM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Monday, 11 January at 10:30AM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Monday, 11 January at 8:00PM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Thursday, 14 January at 12:30PM
Sky Movies Action/Adventure Thursday, 14 January at 9:00PM