To put it in extremely mild terms, this is not what we expected Ridley Scott’s big screen version of the very traditional, very well-known biblical tale of Moses to look like. When we got our first look at Exodus: Gods and Kings (when it was just known as Exodus, a simpler time, even if we didn’t initially realize it) back in December, thanks to a close-cropped Christian Bale sitting grandly astride a large horse while a pack of servants and slaves build busily away behind him, it looked authentic-ish. It certainly didn’t look like some kind of gaudy, gold-emblazoned, overly made-up spin on the story of the baby found in the bullrushes and the almost-brother who betrayed him. Admittedly, it also didn’t provide a look at Joel Edgerton as Rhamses II, who looks as if he was shook loose from some kind of The Mummy spin-off and plopped in front of a surprised Bale.
It’s not good. Is this what Scott is going to do now? Can we not even trust a staid Biblical epic to the filmmaker?
Sure, Gladiator had its own pop and pizzazz, the kind that didn’t exactly smack of historical accuracy, but this almost looks like a film based on a video game, not a feature lifted from the Bible. And its unwieldy title — why can’t this thing just be called Exodus? — isn’t helping matters.
Here, take a look for yourself. Positively Mummy-esque, right?
There are certainly some striking images here — though the best ones are wide shots that don’t focus too much on the too-tan Edgerton or the too-eyelined Bale, instead turning to big landscapes with frightful weather and war bearing down. Scott knows how to put together a feature that’s visually impressive, even as it disappoints in other realms — Prometheus, anyone? — but there’s something unsettling about the look and feel of Exodus. Doesn’t such a grand story deserve a little more, well, historical interest? More authenticity? Less spray-on tan?
Oddly, Scott’s film is ostensibly a standard telling of the Moses story, and it looks like he’s spicing things up with a thoroughly modern blockbuster feel. Last year, Empire Online shared that the plotline is as follows: “Moses was found, traditional [sic] has it, as a baby in the bullrushes, abandoned by a desperate mother when the then-Pharaoh ordered the murder of male newborns among his slaves. Found by the Pharaoh’s daughter, he was raised with the royals, alongside the future Rhamses II (Joel Edgerton here). But a burning bush speaking with the voice of his people’s god convinced Moses to lead the Israelite slaves to freedom, leading to the parting of the Red Sea and a 40-year trek through the desert.”
Will the burning bush also be wearing gold?
Exodus: Gods and Kings will open on December 12, 2014.
Latest posts by Kate Erbland (see all)
- Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2’ Owes Everything to Strong Cast Chemistry, Not Recycled Plot - November 25, 2014
- Review: Haunting ‘Foxcatcher’ Hunts Down the Depths of the American Dream [NYFF] - November 14, 2014
- Review: ‘Big Hero 6’ Is the World’s Most Effective Baymax Delivery System - November 6, 2014
- Review: Miles Teller Pounds His Way Into Stunning, Drumming New Levels in ‘Whiplash’ - October 10, 2014
- Review: Overwrought ‘Maps to the Stars’ Can’t Stay on Course [NYFF] - October 6, 2014