Ridley Scott, Adventure, 150 mins, Jan 30
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver
Trends in Hollywood are obviously cyclical; as fashions fall out of favor they lay dormant for a time until they are once again ready to pounce on an accepting audience. The 1950s and 60s saw a slew of ancient epics and religious romps, and some modern blockbusters are following suit. Copying the tried-and-tested formula of taking a well known religious or historical figure, having a huge star fill their boots for a painfully long run time, and garnishing the film with lavishly expensive sets and action sequences.
Ridley Scott may be seen as more prolific with his depictions of the future, but he is no stranger to drawing on the past for inspiration, albeit with some mixed results. He delighted audiences and critics alike with the amazing Gladiator, while arguably fell short with Kingdom of Heaven and Robin Hood, both of which barely sit on the right side of adequate. Exodus: Gods and Kings focuses on Moses, played by Christian Bale, and his brother from another mother, Rameses. Skipping the iconic “baby in a basket” opening, and plunging into the very heart of the story from the get go, the film looks at how Moses begins as a cynical bystander in a cruel world, a person who shows no compassion for the people suffering around him at the hands of Rameses; that is until he is told of his origins, and God himself informs him about his future.
Bale is awesome as Moses, playing a man that is conflicted and confused, but always imposing. Joel Edgerton on the other hand is not such a threatening Rameses, and classic cinema fans will be tutting at how short he falls of Yul Brynner who played the same role in 1956. The 10 plagues are the highlights of the entire film, as they seem to be lifted straight from a horror movie, depicting danger, disgust and destruction with gruesome detail. The grand finale, the splitting of the Red Sea, is a little less breathtaking, and although it is far from anticlimactic, it isn’t a payoff worthy of a movie with such a long runtime.