Ridley Scott serves up a Bible-sized epic with Exodus.

“Exodus: Gods and Kings” was directed by Ridley Scott, and written by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, and Steven Zaillian. It stars Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, María Valverde, and John Turturro.

With the History Channel’s Bible miniseries and subsequent feature film Son of God, Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, and now Ridley Scott’s Exodus, it seems the biblical epic is making something of an improbable comeback in 2014.  It’s difficult to say why this is, but the results have been intriguing to say the least.  Fortunately, Exodus is a far better film than Son of God.

The film is, first and foremost, a visual effects extravaganza.  While some instances of the CG are more convincing than others, there are some undeniably impressive moments, many of which take place during the plagues sequence.  The effects go a long way toward selling just how unbearable each of the plagues would have been.  Equally as impressive are the visuals during the strangely subdued red sea sequence and the climax in general, as the Hebrews flee with the Egyptian army in pursuit.

All of the story’s big moments are present in the film, and it contains no radical diversions from scripture.  However there are a few interesting touches that Scott puts on the material.  Most notably, God appears in the form of a young boy, who only Moses can see.  It’s a delightfully strange interpretation.  Other changes seem to attempt to bring this epic tale back down to Earth.  There is a scene with an Egyptian scientist explaining to the pharaoh just how these strange plagues might be possible.  The Red Sea scene plays a bit differently than one might expect.  We actually see Moses chiseling the tablets with the Ten Commandments etc.  These changes are welcome and add some spice to the narrative.

Christian Bale is a fine fit as Moses.  The bearded Bale has an undeniable gravitas and is believable as the leader he becomes.  It’s good to see him take on a new kind of role. It may not be the next Ten Commandments, but Exodus: Gods and Kings is a worthy Bible epic, with some great visuals and an interesting take on the story.

-Anthony Calamunci