Exodus: Gods and Kings (20th Century Fox, PG-13)

film exodus_75The end result is less like Gladiator or 300 and somewhat closer to Oliver Stone’s Alexander: bloated, campy, often unintentionally funny.

 

 

 

film exodus

All throughout the press screening of the new film Exodus: Gods and Kings, I was thinking one thing: Why is the studio not only pushing Exodus via multiple press screenings—and during awards season, no less (Fox seems to think this has some shot at…something. Best Visual Effects, maybe?)—when, earlier this year, Noah notoriously got almost zero press screenings nationwide, including none here in St. Louis? Granted, Noah was released by Paramount, whereas Exodus comes from Fox, and different studios do things different ways. But both are films with big stars in the lead (Russell Crowe in Noah and Christian Bale in Exodus) and are based on Biblical stories. Neither film is very likely to make actual religious audiences terribly happy, and both films are directed by respected auteurs: Ridley Scott did Exodus and Noah was Darren Aronofsky. Besides, Noah is the better film in pretty much every conceivable capacity.

As one might expect, Exodus focuses on the story of Moses (Bale) and his uprising against Ramses (Joel Edgerton, being wimpier than one might expect of Ramses), which frees thousands of slaves and seems to bring nearly as many plagues. One expects that Scott got the job to direct this thing in the first place because of the work he did with Gladiator, but at the same time, you can almost hear the studio heads telling him to make it as much like Zack Snyder’s 300 as he could. The end result is less like Gladiator or 300 and somewhat closer to Oliver Stone’s Alexander: bloated, campy, often unintentionally funny. My favorite scene in the movie vaguely implies that it takes Moses nine years to achieve an orgasm. I laughed in my head at this observation during the movie, only to find out after the film was over that the people sitting near me thought the exact same thing. (In reality, the film has a sex scene, fades out, and then comes back in on a “Nine Years Later” superimposition, which they’re really just trying to use as a normal transition, and not as evidence that Moses was a practitioner of tantric sex.)

(But then, one also wonders if any semi-serious movie about Moses prior to this one had any sex scenes in them at all.)

This isn’t all to say that Exodus is terrible, exactly; it’s long and dopey, with poor characterization, sloppy storytelling, and poor pacing, and is overall very generic, to be sure. But at least some of the action set pieces are pretty entertaining: Crocodiles eating people is always a good way to top up a film’s entertainment value, and including swarms of locusts in 3-D is a good idea.

The bottom line is that if you’re dragged to see this film, you shouldn’t be suicidally bored, between all of the action scenes and unusual problems the film has. For similar reasons, though, I don’t see much of anyone being too enthusiastic about this movie, either. | Pete Timmermann

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