Our God Is an Awesome … Boy? Exodus: gods and Kings, a Movie Review

 

Gods and Kings

Movie Statistics

Biblical Accuracy: C

Entertainment Value: A+

Visual Effects: B+

Characters: C

Overall Movie Grade: C+

I’m a big fan of Cecil B. Demille’s The Ten Commandments, so let’s get my bias out of the way up front: Charlton Heston IS Moses and Yul Brynner IS Pharaoh. Neither can be replaced. Ever. End of story. Now shall we continue?

The Title

I haven’t fully figured out the gods and Kings title. Obviously it refers to Pharaoh as king of Egypt, but who are the other kings? As for the gods, do they refer to the Egyptian gods or the fact that Pharaohs are considered gods to the Egyptians? Or maybe the movie is referring to the God of Abraham along with the Egyptian gods? I have no idea, but you’ll notice gods is uncapped. There is no God but one!

The Characters

Christian Bale did a better job as Moses than I expected. I liked his character more before he returned to Egypt to confront Pharaoh, maybe because he lacked the strong, authoritative demeanor that I’m used to seeing. Joel Edgerton as Pharaoh was a poor casting choice. Now, I’ve never seen him in anything else and I bet he’s a great actor. But he just wasn’t convincing to me as the mighty King of Egypt. I think it was the movie’s intention to soften him up a bit, but it didn’t work for me. None of the other characters stood out, but that wasn’t necessarily bad.

The Portrayal of God

God was portrayed as a little boy, and a bratty one at that. I believe the intent was to minimize God. Even so, he was given more credit than I expected. It was clearly God’s decision to free the Israelites. And the plagues were identified as his work, although that was very subtle. However, God wasn’t shown as someone who had compassion for his people, just as a bratty, revengeful kid who wasn’t getting his way. Fail.

The Plot

The movie was true to most of the essentials of the biblical story: Moses is rescued as a baby by Pharaoh’s daughter and grows up in Pharaoh’s household, forced to leave after he kills an Egyptian. He crosses the desert and meets his wife Zipporah at Jethro’s camp. Later he encounters God at the burning bush, who tells Moses that he must free his people. Moses returns to Egypt and confronts Pharaoh. After God sends plagues upon Egypt, Pharaoh allows the Israelites to leave. But he later has a change of heart and goes after them. The Israelites are hemmed in by the sea as Pharaoh’s army approaches, and God allows them to cross over on dry land. The Egyptians aren’t so lucky — the waves crash down over them and they drown. Later Moses ascends Mount Sinai and God gives him the 10 commandments on tablets of stone, though Moses is shown writing them rather than God. The movie wisely left out the non-biblical love triangle between Moses and Pharaoh from The Ten Commandments.

The Violence

If you decide to bring your children, be aware that the violence and gore is pretty graphic. People are hanged, beheaded, eaten by alligators, etc. The plagues were almost too gross for me to watch. I’m already quite squeamish about things like swarms of insects, but the way they attacked the people was even worse.

The Burning Bush

The burning bush scene was underwhelming. The conversation between “God” and Moses didn’t do justice to the account found in Exodus chapters 3 and 4. In the movie “God already seems angry at their first meeting, and he taunts Moses for unknown reasons. He does identify himself as I Am, but that was little consolation. Moses’ first encounter with God is a pivotal event; it sets the stage for everything that comes afterward and should have been one of the most powerful scenes in the movie.

The Plagues

Even though the movie gives God credit for the plagues, there’s a character giving “scientific” explanations for their occurrence; I suppose that was to appease those who prefer not to believe in miracles. The plagues were visually stunning, but the circumstances surrounding them were wrong.  In the movie Moses builds an army to force the Egyptians to let the Israelites go. After his attacks fail, “God” chastises him and decides he will take over from there. The plagues then appear in quick session while Moses watches from the sidelines, feeling that “God” is being too harsh. In the Bible Moses is a participant. He and Aaron speak or perform specific actions according to God’s instruction. The plagues had nothing to do with Moses’ failure to win a war. God’s intention from the beginning was to demonstrate his mighty power to the Egyptians so they would know him not just as one god among many, but as the one true God.

The Red Sea

Aside from bite-sized “God,” this was my second least favorite part of the movie. Yes, The Ten Commandments spoiled me, and I expected gods and Kings to get this scene right if nothing else. In the Bible God purposely leads the Israelites from Egypt to the Red Sea. In the movie “God” has disappeared and they arrive at the Red Sea because Moses got lost. He’s mad with himself so he tosses his sword into the sea, where it lands with its hilt sticking out. The next morning Moses retrieves the sword and notices the current is slowing down, and the water slowly evaporates until dry ground appears. That’s it! No sea parting. No awesome wall of water on the right and left. No God telling Moses to stretch out his staff (because the staff is missing from the movie, replaced by a sword given to Moses by Daddy Pharaoh). It’s just another critical scene in which the movie minimizes the majestic hand of God.

My Conclusion

The movie was entertaining and got a lot of the biblical story surprisingly right. However, it failed on the most important level — it lacked a true understanding of God. Who is he and why did he do the things he did? The movie answers these questions poorly, which is not a big surprise for an unchristian biblical movie. But coming from Hollywood, it could have been a lot worse (Hi, Noah Movie!). As a Christian should you go see it? Sure. Watch it with the family and then read the real story in Exodus and discuss the differences.

Want to read the book of Exodus in a fresh new translation? Buy The Chronological Word Truth Life Bible: The Complete Book of Exodus on Amazon for only .99 cents (Kindle only). Or get a free PDF copy when you use the sign up form on the left to join our mailing list.

Current Exodus Book Cover-narro Continue reading Our God Is an Awesome … Boy? Exodus: gods and Kings, a Movie Review

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

standing by the cross
“Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you there when they crucified my Lord……?” So began a song we used to sing every Easter in the church in which I grew up. Imagine an angry crowd, hypocritical religious leaders, the long walk to the cross, the pain and confusion of the disciples, and, finally, the physical and mental anguish of Jesus himself. But then Sunday comes and everything changes. Fear, pain, and confusion slowly give way to awe, amazement, and astonishment.

Those who loved Jesus had watched as he was crucified, but now he’s no longer in his tomb. Finally, they encounter the resurrected Savior, and they are so happy they can’t believe their eyes. But as Jesus appears to them repeatedly over the course of 40 days, they realize it’s really true. Jesus is alive!

Were we there when they crucified him? No, not physically. But, as Christians, we journey daily to the cross, and we are reminded of what it really costs to be a Christian. It’s easy to take grace for granted because it’s given so abundantly. Sometimes we forget that, though we live, we should have died. Every sin we’ve ever committed deserves death. In the Old Testament, this truth was played out in detail on numerous occasions, to the discomfort of many Christians and non-Christians alike. But what was the point? Simply that God is holy, and sin cannot go unpunished. All of us deserve death, but, through Jesus Christ, we obtained life.

At this time of year, we are nearer to the cross than at any other time as we read the Gospels, attend plays, watch movies, and attend church services commemorating the enormous debt that Jesus paid on our behalf. I was there and so were you, as Jesus took upon himself our sins, one by one, and forgave them all.