Moses' Story Is More Exciting Than Ridley Scott Would Have Us Believe, Right?

Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Director: Ridley Scott.
Writers: Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillan.
Cast: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Mendelsohn, Aaron Paul.
Playing At: Wide.

Moses is a revered figure to millions of people. Christian Bale is one of the most acclaimed actors of all time.

On paper, the latter playing the former seems like a solid match. Hey, Charlton Heston did it.

Except, well, Christian Bale's performance here — which is static at best — is the least of the problems with Ridley Scott's overblown, dreadfully dull Exodus: Gods and Kings.

There are just a lot of problems here — and many beyond the gallons of ink that have already been spilled about this group of all-white actors playing ancient Egyptians. While that's indeed the most offensive part of this production, it’s just one of many ways in which this production fails.

Which is kind of surprising: Skin color aside, this is a supremely talented cast. Joel Edgerton has built up a strong career in bit parts. Ben Mendelsohn is one of the best character actors around. Aaron Paul killed it for five seasons on Breaking Bad. And Bale? He's Bale.

But Steven Zaillan's script gives these players absolutely nothing to do. His story has no emotion, nor does it inspire any beautiful feelings about the compelling force that's driving an underdog to accomplish great things.

Instead, you can get the whole story here from the poster's tagline: “Once Brothers, Now Enemies.” Yup, that's what this is, in a nutshell. Character development and complexity have been cast aside. And, in their place, we have the CliffsNotes of the second book of the Bible: A young prince goes into self-exile; he sees a vision of God in a burning bush; he challenges his brother to let his people go; he calls down some plagues; he parts the Red Sea.

Maybe that sounds like a lot. But it's only part of the story. Moses overcame tremendous obstacles, showed an incredible amount of faith and liberated his people from slavery. In other words: All the pieces are there for a rich character-study. But just as happened with Noah earlier this year, those elements have been thrown out in favor of CGI waves and battles that feel like The Lord of the Rings ripoffs.

How so many talented people came together here and just so completely whiffed on one of the most incredible stories ever written is beyond me. But they did it, they really did. In a disappointment of biblical proportions, they missed the human element completely. I can’t say it’s an epic disaster — that would mean it's actively terrible, which, I'll concede, it s not. But it's a very expensive (right around $200 million or so) missed opportunity.

But, hey, it's also being shown in 3-D, so there's that.

Grade: C.

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