An epic tale, massive in scale
Moses (Bale) learns about who he really is and leads 400,000 Hebrew slaves out of enslavement in Egypt to faraway Canaan. While battling his own self-doubt, he must also escape the wrath of the furious Pharaoh Ramses.
We are introduced to a grown-up Moses (although his origins are helpfully explained to him later in the film) who lives in the palace of the Pharaoh Seti (Turturro) in the city of Memphis, along the River Nile. In this magnificent palace, where superstitions abound, Moses prefers pragmatism to ceremony. Moses is both brave and honest and Seti quite clearly favours him, even though Ramses (Edgerton) is actually Seti's son by blood.
Seti presents Moses and Ramses with two beautiful, ornate swords and tells them to look after one another on the battlefield as brothers would. Later, in the thick of battle against the Hittites, Moses saves Ramses's life. Then, when Moses visits the city of Pithom on an assignment, an elder, Nun (Kingsley), tells a disbelieving Moses who he really is. Soon after he returns to Memphis, Ramses inherits the throne and Moses is exiled. He settles down in a faraway land and marries Zipporah (Valverde, absolutely stunning) before having to embark on his monumental mission.
While the visuals can only be described using superlatives, some bits involving interpersonal relationships could have been more developed. However, scenes involving Moses and Ramses are often electrifying. So is the 'burning bush' sequence. The battles will take your breath away - crashing chariots, splintering spears, flaming arrows, metal against metal and more gore than you'd expect to see. Ramses's cold-blooded disregard for human life is shocking. But then the Ten Plagues unleashed on the Egyptians by God as punishment are unrelenting in their devastation. The Nile runs blood red, overflowing with dead fish. Masses of flies spread dread and disease. Clouds of locusts ravage crops and a sinister shadow of death creeps across the accursed land like a cold hand. Exodus: Gods and Kings is 'spectacle' with a capital 'S' and in more ways than one, definitely epic.