When a movie starts, especially an epic like this, you want an opening that will draw you in. Peter Jackson has mastered that with his Lord of the Rings film series. And although Ridley Scott is capable of doing that with his films, he provides us with a somewhat dry opening sequence. At the start of this movie you see a long dialogue between Moses, Ramses, and the Pharaoh. Then there’s a battle scene immediately after, which is great for fans of shaky cam, but otherwise feels like a shameful way of making a boring first act “more entertaining”.
Although this new take on the Passover story is pretty secular, it keeps itself respectful. However, I would have liked to see it have stronger religious themes. Without them, the point of the story is lost. And aside from reading the story in the Bible, there is no evidence that Ridley Scott actually understands the significance. In fact, the tone and style are unestablished altogether.
The film may have been more effective and less confusing if it had actually opened with Moses being found in the water as an infant. The tone would have felt more complete and we would have known right away what this film is about. Instead, we’re torn between a story about the relationship between Moses and Ramses, and a story about freedom–with no commitment to either.
The film is somewhat saved by the time the 3rd act hits, when we get to see the plagues, along with a fun chase out of town and across the Red Sea.
The biggest problem with this film is the reliance of the audience already knowing the story. Little is explained and significant events become downgraded to superfluous as they feel like they’re just thrown in there without any reason other than the fact that they’re written in the original text. But while we are treated like we already know the story, the filmmakers take certain liberties with the original story as if they think we don’t know the story at all.
The visuals are breathtaking and the acting is superb, but with a dumbed down script and a slow and confusing first act, this film loses some credibility.