First things first. Biblical epics these days just don’t come any bigger or more epic than Ridley Scott’s full-blooded Exodus: Gods And Kings.
He brings the well-worn Old Testament Sunday School favourite of Moses and Pharaoh, the 10 plagues, the infamous crossing of the Red Sea and the creation of the Ten Commandments to the big screen in lavish style and with eye-popping special effects.
Prepared to be challenged, disturbed even, as Moses (Christian Bale) wrestles with the mind of God, shoulders the fate of an entire nation and struggles with the rivalry of his powerful stepbrother Ramses (Joel Edgerton).
Director Scott is no newcomer to the historical epic with Gladiator and Kingdom Of Heaven on his CV, but with Exodus he gets to go ‘full Bible’ for the first time, and this is a heart-pounding massive-scale retelling.
So saddle up for violent, intense desert army battles that will make your jaw drop as chariots crash, limbs are severed and lives lost, then feel the grim oppressive slavery of the Hebrews in their bondage to Egypt.
This high drama and spectacle is set against the very personal brotherly tale as Moses and Ramses clash.
Bale often employs his Batman persona to bring out Moses’ inner freedom-fighter – the obligatory training montage of his guerrilla army feels old school, but does help prevent the film lagging too much and the plot cracks along from one stunning set piece to the next.
Moses finds his love interest in shepherdess wife Zipporah (Maria Valverde) who is instrumental in helping him find the God of the Hebrews. Other characters on hand (but under used) include Aaron (Andrew Barclay Tarbet), who is mostly just there to back up whatever Moses says, and Joshua (Aaron Paul), who doesn’t get a single memorable moment.
It’s the plagues though that steal the show and for the first few at least the Egyptian advisors manage to explain semi-scientifically except the Passover/angel of death – there just aren’t any human answers.
God’s wrath is certainly writ large and the pain caused on the hard-hearted Ramses is tangible.
Overall Exodus: Gods And Kings is a staggering film, full of epics scenes which deserve to be seen on the biggest screen you can find.