Psychotic Moses, Scientific ‘Miracles’ Doom Ridley Scott’s Exodus

  • Jeffrey Huston Contributing Writer

Psychotic Moses, Scientific 'Miracles' Doom Ridley Scott's <i>Exodus</i>

Release Date: December 12, 2014

Closing out the year of Noah, it’s natural (perhaps even necessary) to enter the theater for Exodus: Gods and Kings – the epic retelling of the Moses story – reflecting on what many faithful Christians found problematic with Noah, another big budget studio take on a scriptural narrative, and then see if Exodus replicates or avoids that problem.

My core takeaway from the Noah brouhaha was this: Christians are open to liberties being taken (whether for cinematic framework or even artistic expression) and story gaps being filled just so long as – and this is vitally important – you don’t change the core nature and character of the people (or the Deity) as the Bible describes them. This, ultimately, is where Noah went wrong for so many. The Rock Monsters may have been silly, but the third-act Noah was seen as downright heretical. So the question is, does director Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Gladiator) do the same to Moses?

Early on, it seems the worst license Scott will take is to turn Exodus into Braveheart and Moses into William Wallace, a liberty most Christians would likely forgive and even possibly cheer. Unfortunately, that’s just a first step toward crafting a tale so revisionist that its one overarching theme is to question if the Bible’s supernatural accounts actually have natural explanations, which then ultimately calls into question if Moses was ever even in his right mind to begin with. Worse yet, the film’s greatest sin ends up being how monumentally dull it all is.

Bypassing a “baby in a river basket” opening, Exodus: Gods and Kings – eager to get to the action as quickly as possible – starts with a young adult Moses living as part of Pharaoh’s family. It isn’t too long before we’re given our first big battle scene in which Moses (Christian Bale, American Hustle) and heir apparent “brother” Ramses (Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby) lead Egyptian warriors into the kind of large scale sword-and-sandal warfare we’d expect from the director of Gladiator. But just as Scott also ended up making the Crusades a bore in Kingdom of Heaven, so too here he makes the Exodus a watch-checking slog.

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