Ridley Scott's latest blockbuster "Exodus: Gods and Kings" starring Christian Bale packs infinite special effects and striking cinematography, but the story itself fails to engage the viewer.
The latest blockbuster from 20th Century Fox opens with a stunning scene of an epic battle between ancient Egyptians and the Hittites in which Moses (Bale) saves the life of his "brother" Rhamses (Joel Edgerton). However, with so little mentioned in the Bible about a brotherhood between the pair, compounded by the vague emphasis in the film on their bond, the relationship feels forced and fails to connect them for the viewer.
Together with a weak script full of misplaced dialogue, casting for the film was also askew. Scott has come under fire for being racially insensitive since every lead actor in "Exodus" is white. The director aptly pointed to the business side of filmmaking, hinting that big-name actors ensure ticket sales. Regardless of who is to blame, casting is the biggest downfall of the film.
Bale fits into ancient Egypt as well as Batman might since the actor fails to shed his inherent swagger, struggling every step of the way to portray the prince-turned-prophet in "Exodus." Also, even blue-eyed Edgerton seems aware of the mistake made in his playing the Pharaoh Rhamses, and many of his lines are delivered dripping with perceived sarcasm, including the moment he argues the "economic standpoint" of freeing the enslaved Hebrews.
In an artful and innovative take on the Almighty, the role went to an 11-year-old actor named Isaac Andrews. This film's depiction of God grew increasingly intent on freeing His people from Egypt's chains, and His malevolence may surprise even those very familiar with the Old Testament. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating exploration of the character, reminding us of the countless forms God is capable of assuming.
Another positive in "Exodus" is actor Ben Kingsley who assumes a strong but small role as Nun, an elder among the Hebrews. It is Nun who breaks the news to Moses that he is Hebrew, sparking the series of events that leave Moses exiled from Egyptian royalty to the desert. Alternately, Hollywood heavyweights Sigourney Weaver and Aaron Paul were wasted in dismal roles, and each actor delivered under 10 lines each.
Throughout the ten plagues that rain down upon Memphis, CGI takes the place of the vapid characters in "Exodus." The dizzying sequence adds vicious crocodiles to the mix along with locusts, frogs, hail, illness and more. CGI comes into play once more toward the end of the film when it comes to the parting of the Red Sea. However, the highly-anticipated moment disappoints viewers since the sea simply recedes in the wake of a behemoth storm. The last scene in "Exodus" occurs abruptly following the Red Sea scene and features the anti-climactic creation of the Ten Commandments.
"Exodus: Gods and Kings" also stars John Turturro and Ben Mendelsohn. The film opens in theaters everywhere on Friday, Dec. 12. Watch the trailer here.