To make a film of the Israelites' exodus from Egypt is brave. One, the story is so widely known, there's no room for suspense; two, Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 The Ten Commandments and the 1998 animated musical The Prince of Egypt are hard-to-beat classics. Director Ridley Scott takes on the challenge in Exodus: Gods and Kings - and disappoints.
Scott chooses to skip the baby-in-a-basket chapter, and open as the adult, atheist Moses (Christian Bale) and his brother Ramses (Joel Edgerton) head to battle. Sadly, this attempt to portray Moses as regular guy makes him one of the least compelling characters Bale has every played.
Edgerton's Ramses lacks authority and menace, while other characters' screen time is too short to make an impact, although 11-year-old Isaac Andrews is impressive as God, flitting from wise to angry, petulant to vengeful, at times outperforming Bale.
While the dialogue is disappointing, Scott's depiction of Memphis is magnificent, as you'd expect from the director of Gladiator. The 10 Plagues are also stunning, but don't expect much for the parting of the Red Sea. God took a whole night parting the sea, it wasn't done in an instant - and Scott stuck to the Bible for this one.