My initial reaction once the credits began to roll was; it was too long and yet it felt rushed and most certainly predictable. It seems the glory days of Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven are in Ridley Scott’s rear view mirror, which must have fallen off and broken because he can’t seem to remember what he did to make great films, once upon a time…
This movie isn’t horrible, but from a man whose name has been whispered in hushed tones during the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ company camping trips, I, along with most, expect more from Scott. Do you remember the amazing moments as the gladiators strode into that enormous coliseum only to face certain death? Do you remember the epically powerful words delivered so emphatically by Russell Crowe? It almost made you want to armor up and stand at his side. All that emotion is nowhere to be seen in Exodus. Its cast does the best it can but ultimately it’s a slightly more gritty (PG-13) interpretation of the widely known story of Moses. If you know that story you know what happens in this movie. There is almost nothing daring about this film. It operates under the assumption that you know the story already which in the first twenty minutes leads me to believe that the next two hours were going to be just as predictable, and they were.
This has the visuals and spectacle and war violence; everything you’ve come to expect in a Scott film. Thing is, you expect it. What is there to surprise me? Nothing really, at least when it comes to the story. The CGI is absolutely beautiful and ends up being one of the strongest things about this film. The cast delivers, but nothing is award worthy, except for one person. A young boy named Isaac Andrews plays a kind of messenger that speaks only to Christian Bale’s Moses. Generally speaking, child actors are bad news when it comes to believability but not here, not this time. Isaac Andrews (who is new to me) unquestionably delivers the most prevailing performance of the entire film. He is scarily powerful despite his small size. He conveys his impatience and anger to Moses and it is nothing short of enthralling, award worthy acting. I truly am impressed with this young man and look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
It’s an entertaining, “blockbustery” type of epic retelling of a biblical tale with adequate acting and fantastic visual effects. With these aspects alone it could have been a pretty damn good movie, but the weakest link (goodbye) here is by far the script. At two hours and thirty minutes, this film somehow manages to feel poorly paced, rushed, and badly edited. I understand this particular story covers a lot, spread out over generations, but the constant and almost seemingly hidden time jumps really take the audience out of the film. Instead of feeling and connecting with these characters it jumps forward a decade or more without a caption of some kind indicating the jump in time. All of a sudden this once exiled man is married to the woman he met thirty seconds ago; I guess that means quite a bit of time has passed. Okay? I’ll go with it. A couple of minutes later… another jump cut and suddenly he has a ten year old son. It takes you a second to realize what happened and then you can get back into it. Although this “second” is very brief it’s still enough to take your attention away from something important.
And because of time constraints the most important relationship of the entire movie is meaningless. The two boys, Rhamses and Moses, brought up as brothers never felt close at all. There is a pointless battle that attempts to show Moses’ love for his “brother from another mother” but it didn’t work. Rhamses was a General and his soldier Moses saw that he was in danger and protected him as he was tasked to do regardless of family ties. Because of the rushed story, when Moses and Rhamses arrive at very different viewpoints and their paths clash, irrevocably damaged, it means nothing. There is no weight to any of it.
I must add that my fears for this being lackluster at best began before the lights even dimmed when I was handed 3D glasses. The palpable scope and intensity of Gladiator would have deflated in the beginning credits had it been post-converted into 3D. When I was handed those glasses I knew I wasn’t seeing a dramatic story of betrayal and faith but instead a blockbuster filled with visual spectacle and empty storytelling. It almost felt like they didn’t want to piss anyone off any further (I’m referring to the controversy of the cast not being of correct ethnicity). Say what you will about the film Noah, but at least it was willing to stray from the expected and go for something new despite any worry of angering any overly sensitive religious types (No offense intended… Please don’t send me angry messages).
I can sit through three and even four films with no issue at all if the story is strong. When the story is weak and glossed up with visual effects, two hours and thirty minutes feels like two hours and thirty minutes; time does not pass quickly here. I haven’t done much to convey that Exodus is not in fact terrible (it isn’t, for the most part…) but there is so much left to be desired that whatever positive achievements it reached felt overshadowed by weak storytelling. It’s satisfactory, but at eleven dollars a ticket and a run time longer than its story justifies is satisfactory worth the watch? It was for me but I got to see it for free so I leave that up to you. Oh, and that one viewing was more than enough; at least until I forget and watch it on rental. Don’t get your hopes up with this one.
I want to mention that at the conclusion of the film, it reads: “For my brother, Tony Scott.” I have to say this was a very touching moment. R.I.P. Tony, you were one of my favorites.
Rated PG-13 For: violence including battle sequences and intense images
Run Time: 150 minutes
After Credits Scene: None
Starring: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Paul (Yeah bitch!), Ben Kingsley
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 3/ Acting: 3.5/ Directing: 3.5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 3 Nerdskulls
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