Sunday, December 21, 2014

Exodus: Gods and Kings Review

It's been quite the religious awakening in Hollywood this year. Religious-themed movies are definitely not uncommon in Hollywood, but this year there just seems to be an unusually large amount of them that have all came out at the same time. We started off by diving into the life of Christ once again. Then we told a weird version of the story of Noah. After that we proved that God's not dead as well as Heaven being for real. Later in the year we met some Mormons and now we are finishing it off by recounting the story of Moses. There's been other smaller ones, like Kirk Cameron believing Christmas needs saving, but those ones I mentioned were the major ones of the year. I'm not really sure why Ridley Scott felt like he needed to tell the story of Moses again, but he did. To be honest, I don't think it was a very good telling of the epic story, so my recommendation is that if you want to watch a movie about Moses, just put in Cecil B DeMille's The Ten Commandments.

Now I want to make something clear right off the bat. I did not find this movie offensive or blasphemous at all. That was Noah. This movie was just dumb in many ways, but compared to Noah, it's pretty much a masterpiece. Yes, I'm a Christian. But I do try to be fair and I don't mind it if someone takes one of my beloved Bible stories and does something different with it, so long as they do a good job. But there comes a point where if you get too carried away with the changes that you make, it does actually detract from the story. And that's exactly what happens here. Even if you aren't a religious person, you can readily admit that the story of Moses is quite the amazing one, which is why it has been adapted by Hollywood several times. I was actually excited for a modern version of Moses because we have the technology to pull off amazing visuals in the movie that wasn't available back when the previous versions were made. But the story itself doesn't need much changing because it is quite epic. Stay true to the story and you will have a great movie that will stand out because of the visual effects.

The first part of the problem was that the beginning of this movie was really slow and boring. I went in with not much sleep, which is always a risky decision with any movie, and it was extremely hard to stay awake because of how empty and dull the first part of the movie was. Then when it picked up, it just got weird. My example comes from the scene where Moses goes up to the mountain to talk to God. Technically this is a spoiler that I'm about to give, but I don't really feel bad because you should know the story of Moses already. In the biblical story, Moses has quite the experience as he walks onto the hill and speaks with God. He comes down ready and determined to free his people from the Egyptians. In this one, he walks up the hill, gets caught in a mudslide, and is up to his head in mud when he sees a glowing bush in the distance and sees a young kid walk up to him, who is essentially speaking for God. What?!?!?! I'm honestly trying to figure out what in the heck was going through Ridley's Scott's head at this point because that was ridiculous and quite laughable. And then there's really no confrontation between Moses and Ramses at all. Instead of Moses begging Ramses to let his people go in between each plague, in this one all the plagues happen all at once without Moses even being in the city. Once again, I wonder what the heck was going through Ridley Scott's head that made him think this was a good idea.

That said, even though there was no confrontation between plagues that would've made the movie epic, the plagues themselves were actually really amazing. Ridley Scott tried to make them as realistic and graphic as possible and this idea actually worked. An example of this that I will give is the Nile River turning into blood. Instead of just magically turning into blood, we had thousands of crocodiles show up and attack everyone and everything, themselves included and that's why the river turned to blood. Then we have all the flies and the frogs showing up and it was both disgusting and incredible at the same time. It almost made the whole movie worth watching just for that. In addition to the plagues, the parting of the red sea followed by them crossing with Ramses people chasing them was also quite epic. And all the acting and costumes were great. Some people have complained about the all-white cast, but that didn't bother me. We had a cast full of amazing actors that all did a great job, even when they weren't given much to work with. I mean, Christian Bale had some horribly cheesy lines in the movie and he did his best to make them work. Also, people like Joel Edgerton and Aaron Paul are completely unrecognizable in their roles, which I thought was really cool. So props to the costume people in this.

Overall, despite the story of Moses not really needing to be told again, this movie actually had quite a bit of potential. It was helmed by a director that has done a great job in the past and had an amazing cast to go along with it. It also had some breathtaking visual effects when it came to the plagues and the parting of the red sea. The problem was the rest of the movie just sucked. The beginning was incredibly boring. The dialogue was actually pretty bad in certain places. Weird decisions were made as far as the story of this goes. So despite the plagues and the parting of the red sea being amazing, the fact that there is no redeemable quality of the film to go along with those events leaves you with a sour taste in your mouth as you walk out of the theater. It's wasted potential. Like I said in the beginning of the movie, if you feel like watching the story of Moses, just do yourself a favor and throw in The Ten Commandments instead. Or you can choose to watch The Prince of Egypt. That'd be also a great choice. But Exodus: Gods and Kings is sadly not worth your time. My grade for the movie is a 6.5/10.

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