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NEWBIES: If this is your first trip here (welcome!), here’s the QT on what these reviews are.
THIS WEEK: A white guy named Christian plays the leader of the Jews who fights his adopted bro the Pharaoh in EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS, directed by the same guy that did ALIEN, GLADIATOR and PROMETHEUS (combining something from all three here).
“Batman Bale” does his take on Charlton Heston as Moses fighting Egyptian battles, discovering his true identity, chatting with God, wandering the desert, walking through the Red Sea and a buncha other stuff described in The Bible’s second book (one I ain’t read but I hear is pretty popular).
Written by Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zallian (that’s FOUR chefs for this pie!). Directed by Ridley Scott.
- All the grand scale of visuals, cinematography, costumes and set design you’d expect from such an epic is here. In that respect, it’s THE TEN COMMANDMENTS of a new generation. Lots of filters and such to make things look grimy and dark or bright and splendid.
- Special effects are also top-notch as you’d expect. No disappointments. The plagues of crocs, frogs, locusts and such are as wild and nasty as any horror flick. And wait till the Red Sea reunites!
- Expect Oscar nominations in a few categories.
- Good acting from both Bale and a Joel Edgerton, who plays Ramesses II, AKA Ramses II (pronounced differently). (According to Wikipedia, apparently there is no specific Pharaoh mentioned in Exodus but pop culture decided to make it this guy, who was billed as the greatest Pharaoh of all, lived to 90 or 91, built the pyramids and had some condoms named after him. What an honor.) Ramesses comes off as a total jerk, which I guess was the point.
- Sigourney Weaver as the Mom was good but her part was way too small to justify having her in it (same with Ben Kingsley). And she didn’t kick any alien butt or anything.
- Overall a very good story, plotted and paced pretty well. Not a lot of boring, drawn-out stuff. Not preachy–just the basic stuff you’ve heard before (also raises some good questions for discussion if you’re into that). Really aimed for audience entertainment, excitement and suspense.
- Aaron Paul was good as Moses’ real brother Joshua but impossible to recognize with a heavy beard and riding a horse instead of driving a Mustang like in NEED FOR SPEED.
- Opens with a massive battle scene with a gazillion troops. The other battle and crowd scenes are really cool. and huge in scope.
- Moses is adult throughout the flick, other than a couple small flashbacks. So you don’t have to suffer a bunch of boring backstory. (But the explanation with his sister and Mom and stuff were a bit confusing.) We get to see his wife and kid.
- Really neat seeing the pyramids and giant statue of Ramses being built! Some of them I never saw before and assume were lost to history. The Sphinx had already started wearing down and din’t have a nose. No idea how accurate it is but it looked believable. The scale was awesome.
- If you know the stories, you’ll know there’s a lot of war, blood, death and suffering from everyone including kids. Not a ton of gore, but not much sugar-coating either.
- A bald Joel Edgerton kept reminding me of Curly from The Three Stooges. I was hoping he’d go, “N’yuk, n’yuk, n’yuk!” but no dice.
- I didn’t see the usual Humane Society “no animals harmed” thingy I see on every other movie with animals. Doesn’t necessarily mean it wasn’t there, I just didn’t see it. Considering what happened to a bunch of the horses and lambs (God likes veal?) in this one, I hope the HS was lookin’ out fer the four-legged actors.
- Instead of talking to a burning bush, Moses talks to a snotty English kid with a crew cut. He stands in for God in every scene, which may rub some faithful the wrong way. (I found him annoying. And what was up with the cuts on his face?) Moses calls him a messenger so at least he’s not supposed to be The Big Guy. But he gets pretty angry and hungry for revenge for a holy messenger. And when Moses asks him some tough logic and timing questions about the Chosen People, the kid shuts up.
- The parting of the Red Sea sucks! Complete let-down. (Not shown happening.) When it re-forms, it’s spectacular, though.
- Speaking of logic, the movie raises some important questions about faith, God’s behavior, logic and choices (Ramesses even asks a good one about killing kids) and doesn’t answer them. But I guess that’s kind of the whole deal with religious movies. Believe or don’t believe. Ask your own questions and form your own answers. Or argue about it on Facebook. Just don’t shoot anyone who believes something different!
- American blacks think they had it bad, but nobody has anything on the Jews. Four hundred years is a lot of suffering.
- For all the bad stuff in Egypt, and all the violence, I didn’t see a single nekkid butt or boob. I thought Pharaohs were supposed to be all lecherous and horny, with orgies and nubile slaves and stuff. WTF?
- The ending could have been better. Not sure where the book of Exodus actually ends, but I was kind of hoping for an end to the quest. Or maybe they plan a sequel – there are quite a few books in the series!
Didn’t see it in 3D. No idea how Biblically accurate it is or how faithful it is to the faiths, histories and stuff (for instance, Rammeses’ first-born son didn’t die until the 25th year of his Dad’s reign; the Pharaoh had at least 12 more sons). Ditto for names and languages, as everyone mostly speaks British English, even with contractions and stuff, but it was interesting and entertaining. It obviously aims to a general, multi-faith audience and as that it does a decent job; just not something that blew me away. Super-Jews and Bible-beaters may find it shallow. Unless you’re into the visual IMAX-type spectacle or 3D, just wait for video.
P.S.: Christmas is coming! LAST CHANCE to get a quick commission before the ho-ho-holiday! Just ask Craig here!