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What to Expect from ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’

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Over the past year and a half or so Hollywood has continually brought the Bible to the small and big screen. With movies like ‘Son of God,’ ‘When the Game Stands Tall,’ ‘Grace Unplugged,’ the newest installment of ‘Left Behind‘ and ‘Noah,’ all hitting theaters and ‘The Bible‘ miniseries making noise on the History Channel, it seems like stories relating to the Christian faith have been more popular than I can ever remember.

However, the growing intrigue has not come without its share of controversy. The narrative that “Christian” (or faith based) movies are nowhere near as good as its secular counterparts is alive and well. Also, the Christian community doesn’t appear to be very happy with some of the interpretations of biblical stories (i.e. ‘Noah’). Either way, neither of these narratives has seemed to slow down the momentum of the “faith based” movies.

The newest movie out to carry on this trend is ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings.’ This movie carries a large deal of intrigue with it. It has critically acclaimed director (Ridley Scott, ‘American Gangster’ and ‘Gladiator’), award-winning actors (Christian Bale, Ben Kingsley and Sigourney Weaver) and a story that is pulled straight from the pages of the Bible. It is following a similar playbook to that of ‘Noah,’ which was released earlier this year.

Most of the intrigue for the Christian community, I believe, lies in whether or not this film will follow the story accurately or will it take some liberties in accuracy for the sake of individual interpretation and cinematic experience. There could also be some hope that a beloved Bible story could finally have the financial push from Hollywood to be created at a high enough level to shed the “Christian Movie” stereotype.

This blog aims to simply share with you, the reader, what you can expect from the film ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ both from a cinematic perspective and from a theological perspective.

Cinematic Perspective

When you team up Academy Award winning actors with an Academy Award winning director, you have the start of something special. Add an interesting story that hasn’t been told recently and you have all the makings for a great film. Unfortunately, ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ falls short of that expectation.

It does deliver on some very good acting. Christian Bale and Ben Kingsley deliver solid performances in their roles, and the story is told pretty well and is paced well. The movie ran 2 hours and 20 minutes, but it never really felt long. It moved along through the story steadily and did a good job at building to the climax. “Exodus” was able to bring this time period and story to life in a good way. It wasn’t really an action movie or a historical movie, but it was more a mixture of both, and that was good for this movie. It allowed the story to be told and left a lot for the viewer to interpret.

‘Exodus’ had some very well done moments, but as a complete film, it was just good. The story built up well to the climax but the climax didn’t necessarily deliver. It was a good first watch but doesn’t really have much replay value to it. If you are a Christian Bale fan, then it’s definitely worth the watch. If you’re interested in this time period or intrigued by the story, then it’s also worth the watch.

However, overall, it’s a movie that will probably be forgotten about by most. It’s good but definitely no better than that.

Theological Perspective

If you’re going into this movie expecting Charlton Heston to come down the mountain with stone tablets or a spot on representation of the story and life of Moses, then this is not the movie for you. The writers and directors took some liberties with the story and that’s being generous. Essentially they took some of the highlights of the story, such as the oppression of a people, the involvement of God (even though it’s not exactly how you would expect), the time period and most of the names, and kept those things in the story.

Other than that, and a few other things I didn’t mention, the rest of the story was changed. It’s similar to “Noah” in the liberties that the filmmakers took with the story. Even the landmark things that a large majority of people can recognize (believers and non believers) that were in the movie, where changed. An example of this is the plagues. This is one of the more commonly known events of the story and they were featured in the movie, all 10 of them.

However, some of them were in different order and the purpose behind them were different. The circumstances in which they started were completely different and slightly odd. Lastly, the manner in which each plague started was different from the biblical story as well.

This is pretty much how the whole movie plays out from a theological viewpoint. If certain things weren’t changed, they were embellished upon or they just added their own elements to the story. This happens in book to film adaptations, sometimes more egregiously than others. This would be one of the more egregious adaptations from a theological standpoint.

If you are looking for an honest representation of the Moses character from the Bible then you don’t need to watch this movie. ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is how a few (I would assume to be nonbelievers) have decided to tell this story. It is Ridley Scott’s Moses, not the Moses of the Bible. This should be something to keep in mind when deciding if you want to watch this movie.

Conclusion

If you’re deciding on whether or not you want to watch ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings,’ you have to decide your motivation behind wanting to watch it. If you are going to get upset because Hollywood is purging our stories and misrepresenting them, then you should not go to see this movie. This is not the Moses you grew up reading, so if going to see a movie that is a non-biblical representation of him will upset you, then don’t go see it.

If you want to see a movie with outstanding actors and a great director, then give it a shot. It’s good enough to see at least once, whether you chose Redbox or the theater. Understand yourself, and your motivation behind your desire to see the movie. Don’t indulge in something that will most definitely make you upset.

At the end of the day, it’s a movie. So whether or not you agree with what was done, it’s not particularly worth getting upset or outraged over. The true story of Moses is in the Bible, so if you want that, read Exodus and enjoy that great story.

‘Exodus: God’s and Kings’ is now theaters.

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Aubrey McKay has a strong passion and love for CHH, and he uses that to write album reviews for Wadeoradio.com. He is a graduate of Southeastern University in Lakeland Florida. He currently resides in Lakeland and teaches middle school. Twitter: @ajmckay24

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