Within the first few minutes of Gods and Kings' 140–minute running time, there's a big battle in Memphis. Not about who has the best BBQ, but about who has the biggest and toughest army: the Egyptians or the Hittites.
It's 1300 BCE, and Pharaoh–to–be Ramesses II and Moses – played by Christian Bale of Batman fame – are leading the Egyptian attack on the Hittites. As the battle rages, Ramesses crashes his chariot and Moses rescues him from certain death. We know this is a fantasy film because Ramesses' battle uniform is so gilded that only in fantasy could anyone stand up in it.
The Egyptians win the battle and celebrate in true epic–film fashion with a big parade. Pharaoh Seti's Seer reads bird entrails and prophesies of Moses and Ramesses that one will become a hero. When she fails to predict the future correctly and answer the question “Who is John Galt?” she is hung.
After Seti dies and Ramesses becomes Pharaoh, Moses is banished for stirring up trouble and flees to the desert; where he's attacked by Sandmen from Star Wars IV and quickly dispatches them. He settles in a remote Hebrew village, meeting people who want to leave for the Promised Land, but know the Egyptians need them for construction projects and will beat or kill them if they try to leave. They convince Moses to sneak back to Luxor and talk the Pharaoh into letting them go. Moses tries his best but his sales skills aren't up to the task.
Moses returns to his people and, while chasing errant sheep up a hill, he is buried and injured in a landslide. It is at this moment he sees The Burning Bush and meets God, played by an 11–year–old boy.
Luxor now pays for its sins. It is overrun by frogs, crocodiles, storms, blood in the river, locusts and flies. On top of that, the Cubs win the World Series and the Pharaoh is forced to hang another Seer for predicting the Yankees again.
Moses gathers up his people and they head out, pursued by Pharaoh and his army. On the high–speed chase through the mountains, the Pharaoh loses most of his army to bad road maintenance. Moses and the Hebrews arrive at the Red Sea, which opens up, and they slosh though the mud and puddles to make it to freedom. What's left of the Pharaoh's army arrives, but it’s too late. The ocean closes and drowns them all.
Years go by and God reappears and gives Moses the 10 Commandments. The one that director Ridley Scott misses was the commandment not to make a long, dark and boring film and hope for a big hit. Not going to happen.
Rated 2.0 out of 4.0 reasons I sat though part of the end titles to see if there would be a teaser for a sequel. At one point there were four columns of names going by slowly, listing every person who ever worked in Hollywood. I was hoping they would perhaps have the sequel with Mel Brooks as Moses revealing what was in the five commandments he dropped and broke. See History of the World Part One for this historic scene.