Exodus: Gods and Kings


DIR: Ridley Scott • WRI: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian • PRO: Peter Chernin, Mohamed El Raie, Mark Huffam, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott, Jenno Topping • DOP: Dariusz Wolski • ED: Billy Rich • DES: Arthur Max • MUS: Alberto Iglesias • CAST: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley

Going purely by the high-octane trailers, you’d be forgiven for thinking Exodus: Gods and Kings was a non-stop action movie, where Moses becomes a sort of biblical Rambo. However, Ridley Scott seems to be going for a mix of his millennial opus Gladiator and Darren Aronofsky’s recent surrealist Noah, adding existential wandering and buckets of internal conflict to bring up the running time. This means that there is far less action than advertised, but tons of character development and time for reflection.

Christian Bale is, of course, intense and serious as he portrays the inner pain of Moses, even in the earlier scenes when he and Ramses fight on the same side. Joel Edgerton brings the evil Ramses to screen with dramatic flair, defying his father Seti’s (John Turtorro) wishes that he and Moses live as brothers, and works with his scheming mother Tuva (a criminally underused Sigourney Weaver) to ensure that power rests solely with himself. He defies Moses’ God, recently introduced to Moses himself by newfound brethren amongst the Hebrew slaves – including Ben Kingsley’s character, Nun, and Aaron Paul’s non-entity, Joshua. Eventually, God joins Moses in his fight, and brings the ten plagues down upon Egypt to try force Ramses to acknowledge his power, and release the slaves.

Scott clearly relished portraying the plagues, and they look amazing – watching an entire river run with blood, a wall of flies fill the sky all around, or a darkness descending that will take the firstborn sons of Egypt is every bit as frightening as it should be. These moments, though, are not enough to lift Exodus out of an overall feeling of tedium… and the movie feels every inch its 150-minute running time. An ending upon an ending, Ramses then pursues Moses into the waters of the Red Sea, at which point the movie simultaneously climaxes and begins to dwindle, unsure of how to finish this renowned tale.

This does not make for the sprawling epic Scott clearly imagined. While visually the movie is often stunning, with some beautifully choreographed fight scenes that are every bit as intense as the previews promised, it lags far too much in extensive side-stories, and tries to walk a very fine line between religious fervour and straightforward drama. It doesn’t always work, and while Bale admirably portrays a very human Moses, the character’s conversations with God are made with an attempt at ambiguity that just comes across heavy-handed. Yes, this is largely down to the source material – Moses leading the chosen people out of slavery and into the desert after a series of plagues convinces the Pharaoh to let them leave isn’t the most subtle of religious tales – but the screenplay works harder at appearing clever than ever actually saying anything new about an ancient legend.

Everything about the anticipation for Exodus screamed ‘epic’, but the delivery is more ‘daytime TV bible stories’ (with expensive CGI) than anything else, and unfortunately lacks any real heart that might lift it from banality.

Sarah Griffin


12A (See IFCO for details)
150 minutes.
Exodus: Gods and Kings
is released 26th December.

Exodus: Gods and Kings  – Official Website


Cinema Review: The Thing

Fire - scourge of the Thing


DIR: Matthijs van Heijningen Jr. • WRI: Eric Heisserer, John W. Campbell Jr. • PRO: Marc Abraham, Eric Newman • DOP: Michel Abramowicz • ED: Peter Boyle, Julian Clarke, Jono Griffith • DES: Sean Haworth • CAST: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Joel Edgerton, Ulrich Thomsen

A remake of a remake of a film based on the novella Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell, Jr. Yes, The Thing is immortal and continues to clone itself and survive by taking on different forms. The original celluloid Thing appeared in 1951’s The Thing from Another World, coming to life again in John Carpenter’s 1982 version The Thing, and resurfacing in the 2002 video game of the same name. Now we have Matthijs van Heijningen Jr.’s 2011 retelling of the story in the form of a prequel/remake/tribute act – a group of Scientists thinging out at a remote arctic outpost preparing to outwit a rabid, bloodthirsty alien, who can take on the form of its victims – just like Christmas at the partner’s family.

Paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) – very much a sub-Ripley type – is flown into Antarctica to bring her skills to bear on a creature discovered in an alien craft and now frozen in a block of ice laid out for science at the basecamp outpost populated by a group of cut-out-and-keep Norwegian scientists (‘crazy Swedes’ as Kurt Russell’s R.J. MacReady famously decried them). Needless to say science pisses the Thing off and it goes on a CGI-fuelled rampage.

Protective keepers of Carpenter’s version are probably going to have a problem with this film, but it’s actually not that bad – it’s not that good either mind. Heijningen Jr. sets out his stall early enough into the film and, after hinting at the tense paranoia that Carpenter plays with so well, decides to shift the emphasis of the film towards horror and gives them pesky scientists what’s coming to them. In doing so he employs some decent nods to Carpenter’s version (don’t axe me what) along the way, but basically it’s a who’s-next-to-die-and-in-what-way-will-they-be-mangled-by-the-various-proboscides-of-the-CGI’d-Thing, kind of thing.

The film is probably a bit like having the Thing itself around for dinner: entertaining enough but it outstays its welcome (after having your other guests for dessert tearing them into pieces in the process and ruining that new wallpaper) and fizzles out into an action yawn-fest for the last 15 minutes or so.

Nevertheless, if you don’t bring any pre-conceptions and loving memories of the 1982 film to the cinema, you’ll find this a half-decent film. Not as bad as it could have been and not as good as it should have been, The Thing is a mildly entertaining piece of schlock sci-fi, hoodie horror and, if nothing else, it will make you go home and watch Carpenter’s 1982 version again – and that’s a good Thing…

Steven Galvin

Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
The Thing is released on 2nd December 2011

The Thing – Official Website