Sunday, January 25, 2015

No Salvation In Sight

Exodus Gods & Kings makes two lost hours feel like wandering the desert for 40 years.


ARTH VADER (AV): I guess to be completely forthcoming, the epic biblical tale of Moses, the Egyptian prince who learns of (and eventually embraces) his hebrew heritage to herald God’s word to lead the Jewish slaves out of captivity and on a path to the promised land is the framework of this film. While the Christian Bible can be (in some circles) grounds for controversy and interpretation, the story follows the book of Exodus rather loosely. As is the case with all film adaptations, this movie takes some ‘creative liberties’ with the screenplay. But this, as the saying goes, is just the beginning. How did this movie hold up for you, old friend? 

THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Well Vader, as far as continuity goes, anyone that has really read the scriptures knows that there is little by way of continuity with this film beyond the fact we have a man named Moses and the story takes place in Egypt. It is rare when we have a film so far from the source material that it should just be presented as something totally new with no connection to it’s given title.


AV: Christian “Batman” Bale plays the leading role of Moses, Prince of Egypt (and not very well I might say). The casting is in short, a hot mess. John “Is there another Transformers movie coming?” Turturro is cast as the Pharaoh Seti and Aaron “Jesie” Paul is cast as Joshua. If those sound like baffling casting calls (and they ALL are) try Sigourney “Ripley” Weaver who shifts in for a hot minute as Tuya. Director Ridley “Please stick to Aliens” Scott does share a stunning vision of ancient Egypt that is curiously not offensive and is a cinematic spectacle. That is to say it looks incredible. As for the acting… in a word; “meh”. What’d you think, Pontificator? 

TP: The casting of this film has been something of a controversy from the beginning Vader. Yes I acknowledge the talent of Christian (how ironic is his name given the material) Bale, Joel Edgerton, and John Turturro, but it should also be noted that all the Egyptian royalty in the film were cast with people of European descent while the underclass and places were cast with people of African descent. Not only was this historically inaccurate, but just plain ridiculous.


AV: Though I did leave the theater with my socks on, the visual effects were quite impressive. From the CGI armies in the opening conflict to the parting of the Red Sea in the film’s finale, the VFX are a spectacle to behold and gives the viewer a grand sense of scope and impressive vision. Most notable were the seven plagues that are unleashed upon the Nile and Egypt; one does a get a sense that these plagues and natural disasters are indeed overwhelming. 

TP: The special effects were done well, but I think by leaving the source material (the Bible) so far behind, it was a missed opportunity to really do some wonderful things onscreen. I really enjoyed the costuming and while no new ground was broken with the effects, there was certainly an opportunity to do much better than was done.


AV: Soapbox time here kiddies! Honestly, how many more movies must we wade through of prominent Black roles being portrayed by White actors? Christian Bale as Moses? C’mon Hollywood! Does it strike anyone as whacko that there are no prominent actors of color in movie that takes place in Africa? Whats next, redoing the Godfather with all Asian actors speaking in an Italian-American brogue? It’s getting ridiculous. And that is the word I would use to describe this whole film. Even deeper–because this is the deeper part of the review–the film seems to go out of its way to portray Moses as a crazy person and not a biblical character of historical importance. In short, the film seems to take a very neutral stance on the subjects of God, Miracles and the character of Moses himself. Spirituality aside, it’s hard to enjoy a film that has no sense of self conviction. Thoughts, P-Man? 

TP: Look... the fact that Moses and Ramses II were separated historically by 200 years is just the tip-off the iceberg for me Vader. This presentation of Moses being some schizophrenic that apparently sees children that aren’t really there was absolutely idiotic. The presentation of the plagues as some kind of explainable natural occurrences that happened by happenstance was equally idiotic. I absolutely lost it when they showed Moses chiseling the ten commandments… I mean what??? The Bible says God wrote them with his finger, but the message here is a crazy old guy that sees imaginary people somehow came up with the moral backbone of civilized society. Ridley Scott took out the very thing that makes this story so alluring and exciting… God. I honestly would have gotten more enjoyment out of watching a remastered presentation of “The Ten Commandments!


AV: Biblical spectaculars are an emerging genre in Hollywood but I don’t know if they should. This film was like a warm cup of tap water. Bland, hard to swallow, does the job but with no flavor or flair of any kind, and as you’re taking it in, you just know it could be so much better. With any luck, this will be Ridley Scott’s only biblical endeavor, seeing as how it was dedicated to his deceased brother. I will respectfully not offer any more negative feedback. 

TP: I pray (literally) that Scott stay far away from any other biblical material and they let this travesty of a film fade away in the annals of crappy interpretation and missed opportunities. 


ARTH VADER rates Exodus: Gods & Kings: So if you like biblical spectaculars (plus or minus the spectacular) than you give this flick a go. A forgettable experience to be sure but not without some merit. Also, if you like watching movies that depict horrific scenes of horse violence, then you have a winner here. I swear, Ponty more horses are killed in this film than a little bit. Still, if you’re in the mood to watch a batch of A-Listers dial-in some mediocre performances, then Exodus:God & Kings is waiting. Afterward, you’ll see why I parted with only three (3) busted blocks and was all too happy to find the promised land—namely the theater exit.

THE PONTIFICATOR rates Exodus: Gods and Kings: Knowing the source material well, there was very little I enjoyed about this film aside from the costuming. It was inaccurate both biblically and historically and omitted the one element that would have made it something special…God. With that, this film only freed two (2) busted blocks and drowned the others in the Red Sea 

Exodus: Gods And Kings  2.5 / 10 Busted Blocks

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