Moses vs. Pharaoh: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL.
I got what I expected from Christian Bales’ new movie: Batman channeling Moses.
“EXODUS: Gods and Kings” is far more violent than Charlton Heston’s campy performance in “The Ten Commandments,” and maybe that’s a good thing. Somewhere in all the oohing and ahhing over Egypt’s ancient tourist sites and art museum mummy exhibits, we’ve overlooked the brutal reality of slavery and the fact that the real Pharaohs were sadistic bastards — not just the inspiration for Bangles songs or Broadway musicals.
Like all Egyptian movie characters, this Ramses wears way too much eyeliner, but his temperament is not so pretty. He’s willing to chop off Miriam’s arm for hiding Moses’ Hebrew roots.
No worries, though. Moses doesn’t let it happen. He yells at Pharaoh and it’s enough for his sword to suddenly freeze midswing. Moses does a lot of yelling in this movie. And he sticks his sword in a lot of stomachs — both for and against the Egyptians depending on his mood.
Ever notice in your Passover Haggadah how all the fight scenes are overshadowed by prayers and songs? That’s not an issue in EXODUS: Gods and Kings. The above movie poster, which looks like Rocky Balboa telling Ivan Drago to “Go For It,” pretty much sums up director Ridley Scott’s take on the Bible.
There’s one scene in particular where Moses is training haggard Hebrew slaves to be champion horseback archers by teaching them to shoot hanging slabs of meat when I asked myself, “Why didn’t they teach me this stuff in Hebrew School?” And “When does Moses start punching the meat?”
There’s no point in retelling a story if you’re not going to — as the American Idol folks say — “make it your own.” EXODUS puts a “natural” spin on the 10 Plagues and attempts to make them appear somewhat plausible. For example, when God turns the Nile River into blood, it is actually thousands of giant Egyptian crocodiles who munch on Cairo residents that stain the waters. Also, the Red Sea never really dramatically splits like a miracle. It’s low tide and then a tidal wave shows up on cue to drown the Egyptian Army.
My one problem is that God in this movie is represented by a little spoiled brat with a British accent. EVERYONE knows that God does not have a British accent. It’s obvious. I much prefer the deep American “Voice of God” narrator tone coming from the Burning Bush.
If you’re going to this movie for religion, save your nine bucks. However, if you’re curious to see a different and quirky spin on the Moses story, it’s worth a one-time ride. I love watching Charlton Heston every year and he’s in no danger of being knocked off Mount Sinai.
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