Exodus: Gods and Kings is both a drag and a hoot (and unfortunately more of the former than the latter). It’s as if moments of camp were deliberately inserted to keep audiences from drifting off during the course of its 150 minutes.
Considering Christian Bale outbroods his own Bruce Wayne as Moses, director Ridley Scott indulges in a stultifying amount of CGI “scope” and the film overall has a dim color palette that’s only worsened by 3D, we should be thankful for the occasional bursts of silliness we get. Among these is a sequence in which a pile of crocodiles go berserk, kicking off the plagues by turning the Nile into Lake Placid. Similarly entertaining is Joel Edgerton’s performance as Rhamses. Pouty, bald and heavy on the eyeliner, he’s Pharaoh by way of Boy George.
If the movie has a saving grace (quite literally), it’s in its depiction of God, who appears to Moses in the form of a petulant little boy. (Isaac Andrews brings an amusing impudence to the part.) Some might balk at the characterization, but I found it refreshing. Yes, this is a story of reclaiming and saving, but you’d also have to overlook a lot of death in the Book of Exodus to not read it as a chronicle of God’s righteous anger.
If Exodus: Gods and Kings emphasizes that element, it’s because anger plays better as spectacle. And that is what this Exodus mostly wants to be. Swords, sandals and CGI – it’s all here. Yet in, the end, it could have used a little more “Karma Chameleon.”