Should you let your people go to see "Exodus: Gods and Kings" this weekend? Based on reactions from critics, the answer is … maybe.
Directed by Ridley Scott and starring Christian Bale, "Exodus" tells the tale of Moses liberating the Hebrew slaves from Ancient Egypt, and their subsequent trek across the desert and through the Red Sea. Almost all reviews agree that it's one of Scott's biggest and most ambitious efforts yet, though there's some concerns about casting, and the way the story is presented. One critic describes the movie as "'Gladiator' with God," which should tell you just about everything you need to know.
In case that's not true, and you do need to know more, check out this round-up of reviews:
You Already Know the Story, And That's Okay
"'It’s not even that good a story,' Moses grumbles early on in Ridley Scott’s 'Exodus: Gods and Kings,' shortly after learning of the mysterious events that transformed a lowly Hebrew slave into a full-blown prince of Egypt. It’s a sly, knowing wink from a filmmaker who clearly has a terrific tale on his hands, yet faces a bit of a challenge in selling it to a more cynical, less easily razzle-dazzled audience than those that greeted the biblical epics of yesteryear.
"What’s remarkable about Scott’s genuinely imposing Old Testament psychodrama is the degree to which he succeeds in conjuring a mighty and momentous spectacle — one that, for sheer astonishment, rivals any of the lavish visions of ancient times the director has given us — while turning his own skepticism into a potent source of moral and dramatic conflict." — Justin Chang, Variety
The Scale and Scope
"Director Ridley Scott ('Gladiator') is determined not to make his 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' old-hat. But he's after way more than FX pow – although wait until you see that Red Sea heave in 3D and the damage done by those 10 deadly plagues, from crocodiles, frogs and locusts to the death of every first-born in Egypt. Shooting on location, mostly in Spain, with thousands of non-digital extras, the ferociously cinematic Scott aims to keep things real and raw." — Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
Accepting Ancient Egypt
"It’s a strange thing, the process of seducing an audience into accepting something. Just moments into 'Exodus: Gods and Kings,' we are confronted with the spectacle of John Turturro dressed as an ancient Egyptian pharaoh. He looks about as comfortable in a headdress as he might if a pelican were standing on his head. Then he starts speaking, and it’s an unfamiliar English accent — because as we all know from movies, that’s how the ancient Egyptians talked.
"Yet within a few minutes, things start to change. Moses (Christian Bale) and his friend Ramses (Joel Edgerton) ride through Egypt in open chariots, and the ancient city looks so magnificent — with the monuments and the pyramids under construction — that we’re persuaded to accept anything. It’s not a question of believing it, exactly. Director Ridley Scott has simply made us want to be there, to wish we really were there, and to accept his illusion as the most ready answer to that desire." — Mick LaSalle, SF Gate
Rejecting Ancient Egypt
"If you're going into 'Exodus: Gods and Kings' thinking that director Ridley Scott is going to give the Moses story anything we didn't already get from Cecil B. DeMille in two versions of 'The Ten Commandments,' prepare to be disappointed. This stodgy adaptation creaks with solemnity — not to mention reactionary casting choices — and apart from some nifty frog and locust infestations, even the special effects pale next to a wind-blown Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea." — Alonso Duralde, The Wrap
The Final Word
"Is it possible to sit through a movie, mentally cataloging its absurdities, and still walk out dazzled? Because that pretty much sums up my experience watching Ridley Scott's eye-candy spectacle 'Exodus: Gods and Kings,' an over-the-top Old Testament epic that's essentially 'Gladiator' with God. … And yet, before you're able to get too distracted by 'Exodus'' flaws, Scott reaches back into his bag of pixie dust and whips up another grand illusion. These feats all climax with the parting of the Red Sea, the biggest special effect in the history of religion." — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" is in theaters now.