Thursday, December 18, 2014

"Exodus: Gods and Kings" (2014) - starring Christian Bale

Maybe it's because this story has been told so many times, but this version didn't leave me with awe and wonder as previous versions have.  There were flaws in it which distracted my immersion into the story.  I could never forget this was just a movie.  For instance, the woman who plays the prophet reading entrails -- her British accent was so strong there was no way I could believe she was really an Egyptian.  At least she looked Egyptian.  That wasn't true for Joel Edgerton in the role of Ramses. His blue eyes jarred me, and while I can believe there exist blue-eyed Egyptians, in this instance it didn't work for me.  Then there's the scene when we first meet Moses' wife.  She's working at the well in the fields, and her Hollywood makeup is perfect... no smudges, no sweat and brilliant red lipstick newly applied.  When Moses returns home after the Red Sea event, her clothing and makeup are fresh from the dressing room, and Christian Bale is appropriately dirty, unkempt and I totally believed he had just experienced incredible miracles of God.  I suspect director Ridley Scott didn't give enough supervision to the casting because he's simply too good to let inconsistent accents and appearances to ruin the credibility of the movie.  At least if EVERYONE had British accents it wouldn't have jarred me so much.  As it is, we're reminded these are just actors from different parts of the world playing their assigned roles.

Spectacular Events:  They are brilliantly envisioned.  The fish, the waters turning into blood, the locusts, the horses and cattle dying... excellently rendered.  And while the red sea parts in a realistic, rather than in a dramatic Godly way, the powerful force of nature is still an awesome sight.  The director is magnificent in special effects magic.  Still, this story is about a religion's view about their God, and to reduce the miracles of God's deeds is to take away the glory and wonder of that God's power.  If a literal darkness can pass over Egypt and kill the firstborn child of each Egyptian family, then why not the red sea literally parting as in previous depictions?  This is more an ethical comment than a criticism.  It's not right or wrong or bad or good... just an opinion.

Acting:  It broke my heart to watch Christian Bale doing his superb acting surrounded by elements which did not support his own credibility.   Sigourney Weaver was featured, but I think she had one line... what a waste of an excellent actress.  Ben Kingsley had more lines but his role barely featured to be crucial to the storyline.  Added to the fact that Edgerton was simply not believable as an Egyptian, his tender moments with his son were barely strong enough to overcome his general despotic ruthlessness.  I wished his scenes with Moses had more honest moments of true love in it rather than acts for his own selfish agenda.  His every scene with Moses should have been driven by a deep underlying awareness that this man has been loyal to him all his life, saved his life, and would have died for him at any moment.  To be fair, it's possible Ridley Scott had many such fine scenes for all these actors which ended up on the cutting floor... simply to keep the movie at a reasonable length. He did have to cover a lot of pages from the Bible.

Summary:  Basically, because the director wanted to give a realistic slant to this movie, it sacrificed the wonder and majesty of the Biblical God's might.  Religions are an essential component of many people's lives.  People want to believe in a higher power.  If the ebbing of the Red Sea is simply a force of nature, then what force of nature would kill Egyptian firstborns but not Hebrew firstborns?  A darkness (air virus?) wouldn't be selective enough to do it.   If  the director wanted to make a realistic movie, then why not focus on the emotional interactions of the people involved, the story behind the story, the personal sacrifices made by Moses and Ramses to be true to their love and loyalty for each other and still do their jobs.  Have less chariots and chasing scenes, and more people scenes.  As it was,while this ended up as great "movie-MAKING", it was still just a movie.  By contrast, for example, I walked out of  "Blade Runner" thinking, "Wow!  What a great movie."

IMDB site:
Tags:  Ridley Scott, Moses, Exodus,  ,