CHRISTIAN BALE JOEL EDGERTON BEN KINGSLEY AARON PAUL
EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS
It’s been over a decade since Oscar winning director Ridley Scott (The Counselor, Robin Hood) really made a film that people rallied around, that won awards or that showed some creativity. Yet again, failing to learn his lesson after Robin Hood disappointed critics, box office and fans, Scott goes and remakes another subject that didn’t need to be remade. Sure, The Bible is back in right now as far as Hollywood is concerned, but when big budget Noah failed and the smaller Christian films like God is Not Dead or Heaven is For Real scored, it should have been a sign that the Bible epics of the past are not what audiences are looking for.
In 1300 BCE stepbrothers Rhamses (Edgerton) and Moses (Bale) say goodbye to their king, Rhamses's father Seti (John Turturro) who makes them promise to always look after each other. When Rhamses takes control of Egypt, discovering that his brother Moses is actually a Hebrew, he banishes him. Moses returns a decade later, having found God, embraces his heritage and compels his king to release the Hebrew slaves. He warns Rhamses that God will send plagues and punishment if he refuses. Even Moses begins to question God’s actions when the plagues begin to destroy families on both sides.
Ridley Scott is so focused on scope, perhaps redefining Cecile B. Demille’s legacy, that he forgets to create characters we care for and to structure his three hour epic with balance and purpose. Scott’s epic Moses picture has all the special effects, costumes, and magnitude of any blockbuster, but it has no heart. Exodus shows Scott once again trying to remake Gladiator; he has to stop this obsession with his one great, award winning film and move past sandal period fighting. Just like the Gladiator structure we have a dying King and an almost son that he trusts to reign over his ambitious blood. Scott is beating a dead horse with the projects he chooses.
There are no battles, fighting, or anything happening for the first two hours, leading up to the Red Sea parting (which isn’t all that spectacular), the plagues that are done in nearly a collage while Bale gives the type of performance that moves the story along but doesn’t mean anything. Sigourney Weaver, Turturro, and Paul are all great actors in poorly written roles adding nothing to the story. Edgerton is the only character giving anything substantial; at least the villain is humanized, getting nearly equal screen time to Moses. Darren Aronofsky had a vison for Noah; he tried, and yes, failed for the most part, but he at least gave us something we haven’t seen before. Scott just gives us more of the same severely lacking vision, excitement and emotion.
Final Thought – Ridley Scott is no longer a director you can depend on to deliver groundbreaking, unique and powerful films.
By: Dustin Chase