Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Exodus: Gods and Kings Fails to Reach the Promised Land

Plus, Top Five is Certified Fresh, and Sons of Anarchy ties up loose ends in a satisfying fashion.

by | December 11, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got a Biblical epic (Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton) and a conflicted comedian (Top Five, starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson). What do the critics have to say?

Exodus: Gods and Kings

30%

It’s got a daring escape from slavery, the parting of the Red Sea, the unveiling of the Ten Commandments, and a literal river of blood — yep, the Book of Exodus is certainly one of the Old Testament’s most action-packed installments. Unfortunately, critics say that while Exodus: Gods and Kings director Ridley Scott mostly succeeds in crafting an eye-popping spectacle, he fails to bring the story’s legendary people to vivid life. You probably know the story, but if not, here goes: the orphaned Moses (Christian Bale) was raised by the Pharaoh, but he’s cast out when it’s discovered that his parents were Jewish. God reveals to Moses that he’s been chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, but first he must free his people before undertaking an epic trek across the desert. The pundits say Exodus: Gods and Kings mostly avoids taking a theological stand on the story, but as a result the film’s spectacular visuals overwhelm the heat and passion this oft-told tale continues to evoke. (Watch our video interviews with Scott and stars Bale, Joel Edgerton, and Aaron Paul, and check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down co-star Sigourney Weaver’s best-reviewed films.)

Top Five

86%

Few would deny that Chris Rock is one of the best standup comedians of his generation — or that, for the most part, his movie career has left something to be desired. That’s about to change, as critics say Top Five represents a career peak for Rock as a director and actor — it’s a semi-autobiographical portrait of the artist as a neurotic that recalls Woody Allen at his best. Rock plays Andre Allen, a popular comic actor who’s about to be married to a famous reality TV star. He agrees to be profiled by a New York Times reporter (Rosario Dawson), and as they stroll about the city, Allen begins to question the decisions he’s made in his life and career. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Top Five is blessed with palpable chemistry between its leads, and the result is timely, insightful, and often hilarious. (Watch our video interviews with Rock and co-stars Anders Holm, Ben Vereen, and JB Smoove.)

What’s Hot on TV:

Critics say the final episode of Sons of Anarchy is, like the series itself, both twisty and turbulent, but ultimately, “Papa’s Goods” (87 percent) is a fitting farewell to the SAMCRO gang that ties up loose ends in an involving, poetic fashion.

The penultimate episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, “Oh Shenandoah,” stirred up a lot of internet chatter this week, and much of it was negative; critics objected to everything from a subplot on campus rape to the unprompted death of a major character.

Also opening this week in limited release:

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