Exodus: Gods and Kings
Directed By: Ridley Scott
It’s time for someone to give Ridley Scott some tough love. The man is a genius and has been responsible for a number of cinematic classics over the course of his long and illustrious career, but unless he can start selecting better screenplays to work from its probably time to retire.
Scott’s latest film, Exodus: Gods and Kings, is further proof that no amount of directorial flare or stunning visuals can make up for a depressingly limp screenplay. The whole thing just stumbles along without the slightest bit of energy or life. And honestly, that’s depressing when we’re talking about the same director who made every single frame of Alien ooze with tension and dread.
Set in the rough old days when the kings of Egypt enslaved the Hebrews to build their great cities and pyramids, Exodus: Gods and Kings retells the classic story of Moses that most filmgoers have already experienced through Cecil B. DeMille’s classic, The Ten Commandments. It goes without saying that visual effects have improved greatly since 1956 and Scott makes the most of them when depicting the horrific plagues and parting of the Red Sea, but that’s honestly all the movie has going for it.
You would think that a story about the freeing of thousands of slaves, prophecies, plagues, ancient armies, and the sudden death of Egypt’s firstborn children would come with some genuine emotional heft and power but nope. There’s none of that to be found here! If you’re looking for a newly made biblical epic that will actually stir something inside of you go rent Darren Aronofsky’s excellent Noah instead of shelling out for this. I promise you’ll be more satisfied than with what you’ll get here.
And then there’s that issue of the casting…
When the cast of this movie was announced it was understandably greeted with an outcry over the fact that all of the leading roles were being played by white actors. Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, and Sigourney Weaver as ancient Egyptians and Hebrews??? Not cool.
Now obviously this was a decision determined more by box office potential than overt racism, but it is maddening to watch the film and see how little these “stars” add to the mix. Sigourney Weaver has a total of maybe four lines of dialogue, John Turturro looks absolutely ridiculous as the King of Egypt, and Aaron Paul feels completely out of place as a young Hebrew who helps Moses in his venture to free the slaves. It’s one thing to cast Christian Bale as Moses and blame it on the studio demanding a big name for marketing purposes, but to follow that up by not filling in the supporting roles with talented actors from Africa or the Middle East is shameful. Hell, even God shows up in the form of a little white boy. THROW US A DAMN BONE, RIDLEY!
What’s somewhat ironic about the situation though is that if the movie didn’t have these casting issues it wouldn’t even be worth talking about. The whole film is so lukewarm and unmemorable that I would likely be struggling for things to talk about here. Fans of special effects and nice cinematography may find enough eye candy to keep them slightly entertained but everyone else will likely be checking their watches and looking toward the exits in boredom.
In other words listen to your inner Charlton Heston saying, “LET THIS MOVIE GO!”