Sunday, December 14, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings

Movie Name: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Year of Release: 2014
Director: Ridley Scott
Stars: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, John Turturro, Aaron Paul, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Ewen Bremmer, Indira Varma, Isaac Andrews, Tara Fitzgerald
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 3

The prolific Ridley Scott is back, following the mediocre "The Counselor" from 2013 (which was a huge disappointment, since it featured a screenplay from Cormac McCarthy and a very talented cast). "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is another big budget extravaganza, and it is for all intended purposes a remake of the classic Cecil B. DeMille's "The Ten Commandments", from 1956. The film follows the story of Moises, who alongside Ramses, are the princes of Egypt, 1300 years BC. Both young men were raised and brought up together, but whereas Ramses is the son of the pharaoh, Moises is the son of the pharaoh's sister. Egypt has prospered for years at the expense of the slave work from the Hebrews, who long for freedom above everything. Moises and Ramses come to a clash, once it becomes suspected (and then confirmed), that Moises is indeed a Hebrew - he is banished from the court and country, and wanders the deserts. He slowly rebuilds his life, until God appears to him and orders him to lead his people to freedom.
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" is an uneven filmic experience, which in the end, results as a very flawed feature. For all its visual richness, envisioned by the director and the amazing team he's assembled, the screenplay doesn't develop much upon the classic that Cecil B. DeMille directed over 50 years ago (though some of the camp factor from the original has indeed been toned down). The impressive visual effects, can't hide the fact that the actors have little to do, and the antagonism between the main two leads feels under-played. Cecil B. DeMille's version still contains the richness and awe of the Technicolor, and though it's acting is uneven, there's a genuine sense of majesty and scale, something that "Exodus" never actually creates. A lot of the issue lies within the supporting cast, that never gets a chance to exist beyond a few limited scenes. It's perplexing watching the talented Sigourney Weaver doing absolutely nothing (her presence ends up being nothing more than a cameo), the same can be said for the fantastic Ben Kingsley. Ancient Egypt is brought to life in a visually stunning way, however it never feels real, nor authentic - the film is eerily reminiscent in certain sections of the work of director Rolland Emmerich, without the fun that usually comes with it. By the time the parting of the sea comes along, there's absolutely no investment in the characters or in their fate, since their motivations feels contrived and non-existent. This is one of the big disappointments of the year - avoid it at all costs and watch the 1956 version instead.