Whenever Hollywood attempt to adapt a biblical story for the big screen, the church is very apprehensive. Whenever the church attempts to review a hollywood movie hollywood is apprehensive. What we have then today is the confluence of two opposing worlds, a hollywood production of a biblical text being reviewed by a Pastor who happens to be a movie geek too. Yes, this movie reviewer is not your average christian Tyler Perry movie watcher, I am a movie geek. I not only watch a lot of movies, but follow a lot of blogs (Latino Review*), news sites (Screen Rant*), studio execs (Kevin Tsujiara and Kevin Fiege *) , movie directors (Zack Snyder*), directors of photography (Larry Fong*), movie score composers (Hans Zimmer*), podcasts (Schmoes Know*) youtube channels (AMC Movie Talk*) etc. I have my finger on the pulse of Hollywood, and know what is current and what is coming. This review is not from an archaic preacher with antiquated views that are steeped in religion, and sees the illuminati in everything.I am a genuine movie enthusiast who loves movies in general and will give my take on this movie.
I will preface my review by stating, all movies are subjective, what I hate someone else may like, and what I like someone else may hate.
1. Epic Visuals. Visually this movie was stunning. Ridley Scott who of late has been a hit or miss director ,has made many classics (Alien, Blade Runner, Thelma and Louise and Gladiator) and this was him going back to his Gladiator roots. He showed us Egypt on a level that we have not seen before. The visual experience was breathtaking, from the battles, to the 10 plagues to the Cities of Memphis and Pithom they were simply epic. In this department this movie cannot be faulted at all.
- The Casting Controversy. While this movie was in principal photography, chatter began about the “whitewashing” of the casting choices. A fierce racial debate began, concerning why in this day and age, a movie based on Arabs and Africans would feature an all white ensemble cast. My take on this is, though I was disappointed in the bulk of their casting choices I was still willing to give the movie a chance and hope that the final product would justify the decisions. Which in my view didn’t. The casting of John Turturo as a Pharaoh (Ramesis father) was a bad fit and Sigourney Weaver was no different from the statues being constructed by the Israelite Slaves.
- Deviating from the source Material. This is where the church gets upset with Hollywood. There are certain elements of the biblical text which are open to poetic licence. Even when preaching a sermon based on biblical narratives, a preacher can exercise certain levels of poetic licence to give us their take on the story. But there are certain elements you can not drift too far away from without ultimately looking goofy. This movie drifted and drowned.
- Burning Bush. This movie started well but all the trouble began at the burning bush. The mud slide is a metaphor of this movie, it went down hill from that point. SPOILERS COMING. The burning bush which is an iconic moment in the movie, the equivalent of Krypton exploding while Kal el flies to earth or Luke Skywalker being told by Darth Vader “ I am your father”. This is a major pillar in the story, if you mess with it, the entire movie falls apart. Instead of talking to God in the burning bush, we are introduced to God depicted as a little boy with a bad attitude. I agree with Christopher Orr of the Atlantic who said “This is the first portrayal of God I’ve ever encountered who looked like he could use a good spanking.” If you are going to venture to depict God as a a small boy (which was an epic fail moment) at least give him the right attitude, make him mature, kind, regal even. But no he must be this little brat. Ridley Scott messed up here.
- Sword for a rod. Moses wielding a sword and not the rod was a major blunder. The idea of him raising and training guerrilla soldiers, though I didn’t like, artistically you can get away with it. But it robbed us of the back and forth exchanges between Moses and Ramesis between the plagues. This would have been excellent in terms of the tension between two brothers falling out. Two other things I didn’t like about Teenage Mutant Ninja swords wielding Moses was that scene where he held a sword to the throat of pharaoh. That was reaching and totally out of synch with the character, that action alone makes sense to this comment Christian Bale (Moses) said about Moses “I think the man was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life,”. With comments like that, the portrayal of a sword wielding Moses makes sense. Secondly the Egyptian sword which was flung in the red sea was responsible for making them cross the red sea, really?? To me was another major mistake with the red sea scene (which we shall deal with later.)
- The scientific plagues. Biblically the Exodus has God’s most epic miracles. This element of the story has God as the superhero doing amazing things through Moses. They really messed up here with brat boy god and Moses communicating badly, with Moses not knowing before hand what is coming, and Moses not telling pharaoh in advance but being a victim of the plagues like everyone else. This was just a waste of beautiful visuals with no substance to back them up. The plan here was to minimise the God element and scientifically explain the plagues with exposition. This was a major mister in the movie. The crocodiles looked epic but were not canon.
- Red sea anticlimax. You can mess up many things in this story and we can forgive you while we wait for the red sea to SPLIT… But no, let’s not SPLIT it let us recede it instead and make it come back as a Tsunami. You had one Job Ridley, to Split the Red Sea in two but no, let us recede it instead. This was the final nail in the coffin. They failed to deliver the final knock out punch and instead decided to confuse us with an almost battle in a red sea tsunami which Moses gets caught in but survives. Terrible ending. With the all the advancements we have made with CGI and 3D and IMAX this is a missed opportunity.
- Numbers Don’t Lie. In conclusion the best example for a movie based on a biblical narrative is the passion of the Christ by Mel Gibson. The director’s obsession was accuracy in relationship to the source material, That’s why it Grossed 600 million from a 30 million budget. Exodus God’s and kings is currently a box office disaster. It cost 140 million (5 times more than the Passion) and made 24 million in it’s opening and is now sitting on 113 million. it has a 29% score on Rottentomatoes.com out of 153 certified movie critics, 109 say it stinks. Numbers don’t lie, if critics and viewing audience are not resonating with it, it’s a fail on all fronts. I went to watch the 10 plagues…But this movie is turned out to be an 11th plague unleashed to hapless movie fans.
Final Rating 2/5
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