Exodus: Gods and Kings — BellyFlop

When the movie Noah came out, there was an uproar. Blog posts left and right, commands to go see it, commands to stay away, and more offensive and defensive action than in a football game. Thus, when the next Bible-based major motion picture released — Exodus: Gods and Kings — we were all so exhausted from debating that it went virtually unnoticed.

At first, I thought this was a good thing. I mean, the Gladiator guy directed it! It had Christian Bale! The first trailer I saw looked fantastic!

Then I watched the movie.

Going “virtually unnoticed” is the best thing that could happen to that film. Yet here I am, about to share my thoughts on the thing. Sure, I might be bringing it more to the surface, but for those who were like me — aware of the movie’s existence and wondering whether or not they should watch it —  hopefully this blog post will help you.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings as a general movie:

Before I get into how the movie compared to the true story, I thought I’d look at the film as a whole from a random viewer’s point-of-view. It started off strong. I appreciated that the story began with Moses as an adult — we discovered his past along with him. We saw life through his eyes from the very start.

The movie opened with a scene between the brothers — Ramases and Moses — and then leaps into a battle between the Egyptians and the Hittites. The graphics were awesome, I loved how the relationship between the brothers slowly unraveled. And, for a moment, I thought, “Even if this movie goes off the rails, I think I’m going to like it.”

How wrong I was.

We never really understood Moses’s character. I never knew what his dreams or hopes were, what was important to him. He didn’t even accept the Israelites as “his people” until the very end of the movie, which then made his decision to go rescue them from Egypt very confusing. He seemed like a random player without purpose…yet he was supposed to be the hero.

The Israelites were…flat. We didn’t get to know them or to care for them, so why should we (the viewers) care that they get rescued to go to their promised land?

Moses, even while being the protagonist, seemed almost like the villain. Because I didn’t care about him from the start due to lack of character development, I had no empathy for his tough choices. When he ditched his family to return to Egypt, he seemed like a bad dad. When he threatened Ramases, it seemed erratic and too rash, especially since he was supposed to be a cool-headed battle general. By the end of the movie I felt more deeply for Ramases than for Moses or the Israelites.

The relationship between Moses and “God” (this title is used as loosely as an untied shoelace…but I’ll get to that in the next section) was — from an average viewer’s point of view…weird and creepy. Schizophrenic, actually, to use Christian Bale’s summary of the Moses-character he played. Looking at this movie script, I can see why Bale labeled Moses that way.

If you didn’t know the Moses story, this movie was a weirdly far-fetched bottle of confusion without any likeable characters.

Exodus: Gods and Kings as a portrayal of the Biblical story:

One word:

Bellyflop.

“God” was portrayed as a vengeful, somewhat creepy, little boy who built strange pyramids out of little stones and who demanded to see the Egyptians pay for the oppression they’d brought on the Israelites. He wanted to see them on their knees begging for mercy.

Hm.

I was disturbed and heart-broken by the depiction of God in this movie. It was more than just a bellyflop. It was, as my sister put it by the end of the movie: “An attack.” An attack on God’s character. I can see why no one would want to love the “God” portrayed in this movie. I sure don’t.

Moses was the complete opposite type of character than the Moses we meet in the Bible. Movie-Moses was a sword-skilled army general who had to be taught humility by “God” because he was too confident in his own power. That’s just a hair off of the Bible-Moses who lacked enough confidence to even talk to Ramases on his own (he needed his brother to speak for him.) Also, Movie-Moses has zero faith in God.

That whole “burning bush” thing was actually a concussion, my friends. Moses is buried in a mudslide, gets knocked out, wakes up encased in mud, and sees a creepy child standing in front of a burning bush (which is more of a background afterthought.) After that, his conversations with “God” are cryptic and strange. Moses then keeps seeing this child here and there, finally engaging in conversation with him on a consistent level. At one point, the movie shows Joshua spying on Moses having a little chat with “God” and we see no child, giving the impression that Moses is insane.

Every ‘miracle” (including the plagues) was explained away. Because, you know, it’s so much easier to believe that a falling meteorite sent dispersed the water from the Red Sea away and then tornadoes brought the water back to wash over the Egyptian chariots. Riiiiight.

Oh yeah…and Moses just hangs out in the middle of the sea, letting himself get swept over with water. Lucky for him, he’s a good swimmer, I guess.

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The most powerful plague — the instigator of Passover — was the worst. Not just because the firstborn children died (which wasn’t even clear — it seemed that every child was dying), but Moses went to Ramases to warn him that “God” was doing something that he wanted no part in. He didn’t approve of the plague. There was no glimpse that Pharaoh was hard-hearted or that he’d refuse to free the people or that the plagues escalated because of his stubbornness.

It made it look like God just liked killing children.

And like poor Ramases was an innocent victim.

 


 

Overall, the movie was not only a disappointment, but a discouragement. (Tweet this) I returned home wanting to delve into the Bible to reconnect with who God really is. To defend Him to my own subconscious because this movie simply tainted who He was. Sure the movie was “brave” enough to use the words “God” in the film…but it was in reference to a vengeful cryptic little boy who seemed more of a schizophrenic creation of Moses’s mind than a powerful, loving God delivering His people.

 

Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

 

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About Nadine Brandes

Nadine Brandes is an adventurer, fusing authentic faith with bold imagination. She never received her Hogwarts letter, but rest assured she’s no Muggle (and would have been in Ravenclaw House, thank you very much.) This Harry Potter super-nerd has been known to eat an entire package of Oreos (family size) by herself, and watches Fiddler on the Roof at least once a year. She writes about brave living, finding purpose, and other worlds soaked in imagination. Her dystopian trilogy (The Out of Time Series) challenged her to pursue shalom, which is now her favorite word (followed closely by bumbershoot.) When Nadine’s not taste-testing a new chai or editing fantasy novels, she and her knight-in-shining armor (nickname: “hubby”) are out pursuing adventures.
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8 Comments

  1. Great review. This seems to be the theme with these “Bible” movies…taking a Biblical man of faith and depicting him as almost a villain with a “god” (can’t even capitalize that for this context!) whose existence is dubious at best. I hear “Noah” did the same thing with Noah’s character.

    • Yes, Noah did something similar, but for some reason I never felt like “Noah” was an attack on God. I really think there was a genuine attempt to make it fairly accurate, but it wavered by succumbing to the demands of Hollywood.

  2. Wow, that’s scary! It does sound like an attack. Hopefully it will remain obscure. So typical of the “upside down” world we live in. 🙁

  3. “The Gladiator Guy” has an amazing visual style, but hasn’t been exactly “pro-God” in his films, i.e Prometheus, Kingdom of Heaven. One would have thought that last film, not so big for Fox, and the success of The Passion, would have shown them the potential an old-fashioned epic that didn’t try to rewrite the Bible could have. Bringing Moses back to the big screen, set against the Egyptian history, and a big budget should have been amazing. Even the “secular” reviewers weren’t impressed. Too bad, the previews made it look like Scott was returning to the vision he had with Gladiator or Black Hawk Down.

  4. This is the second review that I’ve seen on the movie this week. Did it just come out on video or something? LOL

    I have no interest in seeing it. Thanks for the post. I won’t waste my time. 🙂

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