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Exodus: Gods and Kings (4K Ultra HD)

Fox // PG-13 // February 22, 2016 // Region 0
List Price: $39.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by John Sinnott | posted March 16, 2016 | E-mail the Author
The Movie:

2014 was the year for big budget Biblical-themed movies. There was
Darren Aronofsky's Noah in theaters around Easter, Left
starring Nicolas Cage hit the screens near Halloween,
and then this film, Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings,
was released just before Christmas. Of the three, it's safe to say
that this one is the best. It was tapped to be one of the first
moves Fox released on the new 4K Ultra HD format and though the film
itself doesn't quite live up to the religious epics that came out of
Hollywood's Golden Age, it both looks and sounds great.

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This is the story of Moses, told from the time he was a Prince of
Egypt through his freeing of the Hebrews. Moses (Christian Bale) is
a cousin to Ramesses (Joel Edgerton), heir to the throne of Egypt.
They are like brothers, loyal and faithful to one another, but as
sometimes happens with brother, they have a falling out. Moses is
just a bit better than Ramesses: a bit smarter, a better general,
and more adept at dealing with the royal court. Even Ramesses father
admits that Moses would make a better Pharaoh, but the rules of
inheritance won't allow it. Soon Ramesses becomes jealous,
especially after Moses saves his life on the battlefield, and as he
takes the throne things go from bad to worse.

On a visit to a nearby town where stones are quarried for building
monuments and temples, Moses interviews the leaders of the Hebrew
slaves (they're never referred to as Jewish). One of their number
recognizes the prince and, in a secret meeting that night, reveals
to the powerful general that he's actually the son of a Hebrew
slave. Moses doesn't believe this, of course, but if the tale were
true it would answer some questions.

Before too long Ramesses hears the rumor, and while he's not sure if
he can believe it, it does give him an excuse to get rid of the man
he's come to dislike. Exiled to the desert, Moses wanders until he
finds a tribe and becomes a shepherd.

One evening he cases some errant sheep up "God's mountain" and gets
knocked out in a mud slide. He awakes to the image of a burning
bush, and in a bit of a surprising change, God himself in the image
of a young boy. God tells the general that he has to return to
Memphis and free his people once and for all.

Scott's film is certainly epic in scale and a great spectacle. The
ancient city of Memphis (mainly constructed with CGI) looks
impressive and there is a lot of eye candy on the screen. There is
the proverbial 'cast of thousands' that helps give the movie a
realistic feel and a lot of attention was paid to the details.

While the movie is great to look at, unfortunately it doesn't
connect on an emotional level. Even with the nearly two and a half
hour running time, the plot points feel rushed and, well, plot
points rather that the story of real people. For example, Moses
meets his wife and ten minutes later they're married with a son. It
happens so fast that when he leaves them to return to Egypt it
doesn't feel like he's making a personal sacrifice.

It also helps if you already know the story, because some
explanations are left out. I can see someone who had never heard of
the ten Plagues of Egypt having trouble connecting them with divine
intervention, at least at first. The end of the film is also abrupt
and needs an understanding of the original story. The last few
minutes of the film comprise Moses carving the 10 Commandments
himself at God's instruction and then riding, as an old man, in a
cart with a box. Viewers pretty much have to fill in the whole idol
worship, wandering in the desert, and make the connection that the
box is the Ark of the Covenant.

All in all, it's a wonderful looking movie and a nice story that
doesn't quite hit the mark it's aiming for.

The Ultra HD Disc:

This release comes with both a 4K Ultra HD disc and a Blu-ray disc
(which seems to be the same as the stand-alone BR) in a single-width
keepcase. Unfortunately, the 3D version is not included.


As with the other 4K Ultra HD discs that I've viewed, the 2160p
image which retains the OAR of 2.40:1 looks spectacular. The thing
that most viewers will notice is a definite increase in the level of
detail when compared to the BR. The rough weave of the cloth that
the Hebrews wear comes through clearly, as does the grain in the
stones that they are working. The dark scenes (and there are a fair
number of them) are filled with shadows but these dimly lit areas
show detail too. The bright scenes are just as impressive. The only
flaw that was really apparent was that some of the larger panning
scenes were not as smooth as one would have liked. Aside from that
it's a great looking disc.


The audio was equally impressive. As with the other releases in
Fox's first wave of 4K movies, this disc arrives with a DTS-HD
Master Audio 7.1 track, but oddly no Dolby Atmos or DTS:X track. I
couldn't find any nits to pick on the DTS-HD track though. The sound
was immersive, especially in some of the bigger scenes such as the
plague of locusts, and the dialog was strong. The background music
was clean and clear and everything sounded quite impeccable.


The 4K disc itself includes a commentary track by director Ridley
Scott and co-writer Jeffrey Caine. They were apparently recorded
separately, and the two talk about the production as well touching
on the historical and religious aspects of the film. There's also an
optional pop-up trivia track that has information on the historical
basis for the film.

On the Blu-ray disc there is also 15 minutes worth of deleted scenes
presented in 1080p.

Final Thoughts:

This is a movie that has the look and budget of an epic, but doesn't
make the emotional connection that it was going for. The script
isn't bad, it's just not as engrossing or as is should be. Making up
for that however is the great presentation on this 4k Ultra HD disc:
It sounds and looks magnificent. Recommended.
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