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Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings stars Christian Bale as Moses who, as the film opens, fights alongside his brother Ramses (a shaved-headed Joel Edgerton), to help defend Egypt, which is ruled by their father, Seti (John Turturro). During battle, Moses saves Ramses life, causing Ramses to fear that his brother will one day be King because it fits with a prophecy handed down by one of Seti's trusted spiritualists. Soon after Seti's death, Moses, who is actually Jewish and not Egyptian, is banished. However, he becomes the leader of the Jewish people and leads a rebellion, with the help of a wrathful God, against that Egyptians..
This film tackles a story that had already been tackled very well in previous films. The most famous of them all is the epic "The Ten Commandments" with Charlton Heston as the definitive Moses. Other filmmakers have tried to replicate this Moses story with different actors or even in animation, but the 1956 classic remains secure in its place.
This year, yet another attempt is made by director Ridley Scott with big star Christian Bale as Moses, a combination is too promising to ignore. So despite the lukewarm to negative early reviews, I wanted to see and judge this film for myself.
We all know the story of Moses from the book of Exodus. He was a Hebrew who grew up in the Egyptian palace side by side with Pharaoh's own son Ramses. When Moses' real origin was revealed, he was exiled. There in the wilderness, he obeys God's orders by way of the burning bush to return to Egypt to ask the new Pharaoh to set the Hebrews free from slavery. Only after God sent ten dreadful plagues did Ramses relent. Moses led the Hebrews across the Red Sea and into the Promised Land of milk and honey.
This film is basically faithful with the biblical story, with the advantage of higher technology in special visual effects to create grander vistas and more realistic plagues. It tried to inject some scientific logic into the supernatural events, particularly the Red Sea crossing. However, the explanation for the turning of water into blood was quite a stretch. Moses did not have a staff that turned into a snake nor part the Red Sea. The Angel of Death scenes were presented curiously just like the way it was done on "The Ten Commandments"!
The lackluster portrayal by the actors added to the coldness of the film. I don't know if Christian Bale did not make a very good Moses. He felt like he was going through the motions here, no passion whatsoever. Joel Edgerton was totally wrong as Ramses. He looked ill at ease the whole film, and it was obvious from the posters alone! The presence of Ben Kingsley, Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul in cast were wasted in small unremarkable roles.
Some people may expect this to be a religious film. However, the whole film felt soul-less, and this made the long 150-minute running time seem so unbearably slow. The very way God was portrayed did not sit very well with me. God in this film was personified as an imperious young boy who was projected to be mercilessly violent and vindictive. There was no hint of compassion nor magnanimity here. Moses was even arguing against God. The film felt like it had an anti-God undertone, even atheistic, which was uncomfortable for me. This is yet another disappointing Biblical film debacle this year, though I would not consider as bad as the total disaster that was "Noah". 4/10.
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