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MOVIE REVIEWS: EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS

December 12, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Plagued by overwhelmingly poor reviews, a controversy over the racial makeup of the cast, been-there-done-that special effects, and the glittering example of Cecil B. DeMille’s classical biblical epic The Ten Commandments, Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings will likely need a divine intervention if it is to earn more than $30 million this weekend, analysts say. Even 20th Century Fox, which is releasing it, has indicated that it will probably earn not much more than $25 million, a paltry amount given the estimated $140-million+ cost to produce it. The studio execs who greenlit the production no doubt felt that moviegoers would be eager to see how CGI artists would be able to improve upon DeMille’s parting of the Red Sea. But as Stephen Rea observes in the Philadelphia Inquirer: “Computer-generated imaging has advanced spectacularly over the decades, but moviegoers, and gamers, have been there every step of the way. Miracles aren’t as impressive as they used to be.” What’s left without the impressive special effects to satisfy moviegoers is a dull script and awkward performances from the cast, critics suggest. Christian Bale as Moses is no Charlton Heston, they say. In fact, he’s — we hesitate to say — crucified by most of them. Summarizing the plot, A.O. Scott in the New York Times notes: “Eventually, of course, Moses discovers his Jewish roots, which means that he stops shaving, starts herding goats and, unless my ears deceive me, takes to peppering his speech with stagy old-man Yiddish inflections, as though preparing to lead his people from the fleshpots of Egypt into a borscht belt Canaan. You think this desert is dry? You should try my wife’s brisket.” Lou Lumenick’s review of the movie in the New York Post is headlined, “Christian Bale is God-awful as Moses in ‘Exodus’.” As for those plagues, Lumenick notes that in the bible, none of them included “giant alligators, as this film would have it.” Other critics note that the depicted reptiles are not ‘gators but crocs, which is also how they describe the movie itself. “Bland, overly long and otherwise forgettable,” is the way Claudia Puig describes it in USA Today, while Rafer Guzmán in Newsday dismisses it this way: “Exodus turns out to be part of a time-honored tradition: the old-fashioned, super-spectacular Hollywood bomb.” But Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune gives the film what he calls a “not bad” review, comparing it to Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood. “Square, a little heavy on its feet, much of that film held me, even when its bigness trumped its goodness. Same with this one.”