Staring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, María Valverde, Ben Mendelsohn
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian
Rating: PG-13 (US) Running Time: 2 hr 30 min
Moses (Christian Bale), once trusted general and ‘brother’ to the Egyptian Pharoah, Ramses (Joel Edgerton), discovers his true Hebrew heritage and is tasked by God to free the slaves. It’s a well-known fable, and was once a nearly four-hour long film starring Charlton Heston back in 1956. An epic tale of God’s wrath, betrayal, war, slavery and salvation, but at just two and half hours, Exodus is way too short.
Exodus delivers solid performances from Christian Bale and Joel Edgerton, and great production design and photography. Especially the awesome aerial shots of locations and battles sequences. It was like all the pieces of a truly epic masterpiece were there, but someone decided the audience wouldn’t have the patience to watch director Ridley Scott assemble it properly. The end result being, a movie that plays out like a highlight reel of Moses’s deeds, never properly developing the lead or supporting characters, or the locations and situations they find themselves in.
The movie also seemed afraid to wholeheartedly commit to the original text, and all its supernatural elements. In The Ten Commandments, Moses (with God’s help of course) parted the Red Sea. In Exodus, the sea doesn’t so much part as move to one side, and they hint this was due to a passing meteor causing a tsunami.
Moses sees a burning bush and talks to God’s messenger. Or did he just imagine that after banging his head on a rock? Each of the plagues are explained away too. The river becomes blood because of a massive crocodile attack, which then kills the fish, which causes the frogs to leave the river, who then die because of the lack of water, which causes more flies to appear as the frogs decomposed. And so on.
It’s like the makers of this film wanted to show you how the tricks are done. But by doing so, they spoil the magic. Now I’m not a religious person per se, but I do find it odd that we can watch hobbits and aliens explore fantastical places filled with magic and wonder, but the myths in Exodus get busted.
Fan’s of Charlton Heston’s version of the Exodus story will likely find this a bit ‘Moses lite’, and the more devout may not enjoy all the myth debunking. The movie is rated PG-13, which ensures the violence never gets too graphic.
This is a great looking film, and would be best enjoyed on the big screen. At home, a HD showing on a nice big TV is recommended. Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography (Prometheus) shouldn’t be watched on anything portable.
Dariusz Wolski’s photography. Ridley Scott has partnered with Darausz several times, and the results are always stunning. I especially loved the aerial shots over the battle with the Hittites.