Saturday, December 13, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings (USA, United Kingdom, 2014)

Nine Things About the Movie Exodus: Gods and Kings

1. This is a 3-hour epic that is kind of based on the famous Bible story of Moses rescuing the Jews after 430 years of slavery in Egypt. It takes the broad plot outline from the Bible, but makes its own story. To put it another way, I heard two people complaining behind me that it wasn't "historically accurate".

2. Christian Bale plays Moses, adopted son of the Pharaoh. He is an atheist, and serves as a general in the Egyptian army with the Pharaoh's real son, Ramses (who was actually born 300 years after the events of the movie, but whatever). Moses helps to keep the Jewish slaves in line. But when he finds out he is actually Jewish, his mind is blown. He does some things that get him exiled, so he goes off and gets married and has a son.

3. About halfway through the movie, Moses gets hit on the head with a rock and then sees God. After that, the personality of Moses completely transforms; you could interpret this new Moses as either a man who has found faith, or a religious extremist with possible schizophrenia.

4. The movie rides a very thin line on the God topic. If you want to believe that the story is basically true, then you are free to believe that. But if you don't think the story is actual history, you are free to believe that, too. The movie provides a possible interpretation of the plagues as a chain-reaction of rare natural disasters that had nothing to do with God, but that fed Moses' religious mania.

5.  Most of the famous plagues appear in the movie, but they go by very quickly. However, we do get a bonus scene of gigantic cannibal crocodiles. And I must admit, the climax at the Red Sea was pretty epic.

6.  For a movie about God's wrath, there sure was a lot of politics, intrigue, and talking in it.

7. The God of this movie is very much the God of the Old Testament. He is inscrutable, sadistic, bloodthirsty, and vengeful. God is definitely not Love in this movie. Ramses even directly asks Moses the Big Question: if your god is real, is such a god worthy of worship?

8. The casting of the movie is just... confusing. It's about people in the Middle East, but all the main characters are white with a vague British/American accent. Sigourney Weaver is in the movie, but she has about six lines. And whoever thought of hiring John Turturro to play the pharaoh, well, there must be a special strain of weed for that.

9. This is a very conflicted movie. And I'm conflicted about it. Visually it's spectacular. There are some amazing set pieces, fascinating scenes, and some great acting. But it does too much. It's a look at society, revolution, and the difference between leadership and slave-driver. Religiously, it tries so hard to include all perspectives that it ends up feeling hollow.
The movie can't commit to anything, so it ends up meaning nothing.