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To Enjoy 'Exodus,' Don't Take It As Seriously As It Takes Itself

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

The director Ridley Scott - his films include classics like "Alien," "Blade Runner," "Gladiator" - now turns his attention to ancient Egypt in a movie called "Exodus: Gods and Kings." Film critic Kenneth Turan has this review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is one film where spoiler alerts aren't necessary. Both the Bible and the big screen have prominently featured the story so nothing here will be news to anyone. Christian Bale stars as Moses, who's been raised to be like a brother to the Pharaoh Ramses, played by Australia's Joel Edgerton. But then Moses talks to a wise old Hebrew slave, played by Ben Kingsley, and gets the surprise of his life.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS")

BEN KINGSLEY: (As Nun) You know something's wrong. You've always felt it. Your parents never told you the truth.

CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Moses) What truth?

KINGSLEY: (As Nun) The year of your birth, there was a prophecy that our leader would be born to liberate us. That leader is you, Moses.

TURAN: Back at the palace all hell breaks loose at this news and Moses finds himself exiled into a trackless desert. But God, played for no apparent reason by an 11-year-old boy, has other plans for him. These two bicker a lot until God ends the argument by bringing on the 10 plagues. It all ends at the Red Sea with Moses exhorting the Hebrews to have faith and follow him into the drink.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS")

BALE: (As Moses) Ready yourselves. You have honored me with your trust. If you stay you will perish. Follow me. You will be free. Do not be afraid. God is with us.

TURAN: This Red Sea doesn't part the way we've gotten used to. It just kind of fades away, only to come roaring back when no one expects it. Otherwise, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is not as far as it thinks from the gold calf standard of biblical epics "The Ten Commandments," a story director Cecil B. DeMille liked so much he filmed it twice. As with the DeMille ventures, enjoying this half solemn, half silly epic involves managing expectations and not taking things too seriously at all.

GREENE: Kenneth Turan reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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