Exodus: Gods and Kings – 2 out of 5
2014 must have been the year of the Old Testament films because not only did we get to see Christopher Nolan’s Batman be Moses but we got to see Maximus be Noah. Okay, sure, that’s two movies and doesn’t really constitute any real sort of pattern or theme but getting two films from the Old Testament where God was a tad bit of a murderous dick was a bit of a surprise…but not as surprising as how fucking boring this film was.
|Sure, the movie sucks but, damn, that looks awesome. I want it airbrushed|
on the side of a van!
|After seeing John Turturro get pissed on by Bumblebee|
I just can't see him as a pharaoh.
In 1300 BC, the Egyptian pharaoh Seti I (John Turturro) is told of a prophecy where one of two men; Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramesses II (Joel Edgerton), will save the other in the heat of battle and will arise to be a leader. During battle, Moses saves Ramesses’ life and the two men are burdened with seeing the prophecy come true. Soon, Moses learns from a Hebrew slave called Nun (Ben Kingsley) that he is, in actuality, Hebrew, while Ramesses becomes the new pharaoh after Seti dies. When Moses true lineage is revealed to Ramesses, he is exiled to die but ends up becoming the leader of the Hebrew people and decides to have their shackles of slavery broken and free them from the oppression of Egypt after he is visited by a representation of God. When Moses' rebellion proves to not be working fast enough, God intervenes and brings about ten plagues on the Egyptian people (you know the ones) and, eventually, Moses sees his people across the parted Red Sea and into freedom. But first, he must settle things with Ramesses…
|Ben Kingsley, ladies and gentlemen, doing the "I'm trying to hide my boner"|
I was accused by a friend of faith that the only reason I didn’t like this film is due to the fact I’m an atheist but, I would wager, that even if I was a man who thought there really was a God and all sorts of supernatural stuff, I probably would have still seen this film as boring. As I’ve proven with my review of Noah, I don’t have to be a believer to enjoy a film that is religious in nature…although, I do find many of them laughably awful. Especially the ones that try to argue that Christians are a persecuted group in America *COUGH—God’s Not Dead—COUGH* However, Exodus: Gods and Kings was just so damn bland.
|So...how high do you get if you inhale that smoke?|
Director Ridley Scott provided some great visuals in the film, the special effects were great and the cast is composed of very talented people but none of these things change the fact that none of the drama felt like it had any weight to it or escape the nagging feeling that the film was just going through the motions. Additionally, some odd, comedy-esque timing with a sequence that involved hanging those who stood in Ramesses’ way of finding Moses didn’t help things.
|And here's a very obvious rubber child...did I miss when they announced this was |
I also can’t review this film and not address the controversy that followed it with the fact that British and American actors (with notably pale skin) were given some bronzer and brought in to play Egyptians. We already have to face the reality that so many of the industries in our entertainment world seemingly fight against diversity but having the guy from American Psycho play a Biblical character and seeing Owen Lars from Episode III take on being an Egyptian pharaoh almost felt like a poke in the eyes of every non-white actor. Granted, I think Joel Edgerton and Christian Bale are both phenomenal actors but I didn’t see them as Ramesses II or Moses and it was über-distracting. Additionally, I find it amusing that people who yell at the ones upset about this to be quiet and how it’s all about "finding the right actor for the part, not the skin color" are the ones who were probably pissed because the Human Torch is being played by a black man. Ridley Scott said the reason we see this "white-washing" in Exodus is because he never would have got the movie made if he didn’t go with household named Caucasians. However, judging entirely by how boring the film is, that probably wouldn’t have been a bad thing.
|At the very least, we could have been spared another performance from Aaron|
Paul that can't hold a candle to his performance in Breaking Bad.
|To think...Ramesses could have won a Grammy...|
buried in his jammies.
Look, I can overlook that we had very pale people trying to be passed off as Egyptians and such because the film has some fantastic looking special effects and visuals but all of this can (and does) become moot if there isn’t a story that is engaging and captivating. I may not be a man of faith but I can understand its existence and can even sympathize with characters that are battling it or accepting it. I felt the struggle Noah went through in…well…Noah because that film presented an uplifting and powerful story that highlighted the conflict and drama. Exodus feels, like I said, like it is just going through the motions. The drama, the tension, and the conflict all feel empty and vacuous. There is no weight or gravity behind it and it makes the story of Moses a very bland, very flavorless, very vanilla one (that's not a pun on skin color). I’m not one to ever turn off a film and never come back to it but this one I had to watch in chunks over a course of several days because it was just that flippin’ boring and barely passable. Hell, even the acting wasn’t that spectacular and the cast was filled with actors who consistently blow me away.
|Now, imagine him saying, "Let my people go," in his Batman voice.|
|Every single one of those frogs are claiming to be |
descended from the Budweiser frogs.
One thing, I will say, that I did find very interesting about the film was the ten plagues. Sure, I could sit here and say it was because it was a special effects extravaganza but the real reason I found the plagues, and subsequently the parting of the Red Sea, cool was that Ridley Scott showed these things happening in a way that offered up both a supernatural answer and a more skeptical, less fantastic reason—it really all depended on how you wanted to look at it. Sure, in the end, these things happened because God made them happened but the way they were presented in a way that the Egyptians could easily believe that this wasn’t a God-sent plague but rather Mother Nature being a bitch was a neat touch.
|The sea ran red like blood only because the guys in the boat were calling the |
crocodile an alligator.
Okay, so Exodus: Gods and Kings wasn’t for me because I couldn’t get invested in the story but, I do have to say, the Red Sea part was pretty badass and seeing Ramesses and Moses come head-to-head as the sea is coming back in was pretty fucking epic…but it meant I had to sit through two hours of bland fluff that feels like it is lackadaisically going through its story. 2014 was one for two with its Old Testament films.