EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS REVIEW

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Exoduzzzzz. Basically the Dark Prince of Egypt. No singing, a whole lot darker and a whole lot longer.  A mess. A beautifully shot one but a mess all the same.

So what’s it all about? (For those who don’t know) The defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.

Another example of the ever-increasing decline of a great director.

Beautifully shot (with a talented cast) BUT overlong, drawn out and dreadfully dull. The Counsellor, Prometheus and now Exodus.

I couldn’t think of anyone better to take on the role of Moses. Bale brings his gruffly angry gravitas to the role BUT despite his best efforts, his performance was a little underwhelming.

I understand that there has been a backlash against this movie. To be honest, I gave up on Hollywood attempting any accuracy or authenticity on anything. Let alone the Bible.

Apparently, self-tanning solves the whitewashing issue that Hollywood have failed to resolve for the last 50 years.

Bale and Edgerton worked well together and made a good pairing when they got to be in the same scene. Edgerton (Warrior) was an excellent Ramses when he was allowed to act. Can you see where I’m going with this?

The first 30 minutes zipped along and was quite watchable. The scope and design was breathtaking. Captured perfectly by (regular Scott stalwart) Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography.

This time around, Moses is not just an Egyptian prince but a general trained in the art of war. Cue biblical battle sequences . . . for five minutes. The little action we got was delivered through tragically jittery camera work. My eyes struggled to adjust to the 3D and the huge numbers of extras. I couldn’t focus on any one set piece.

The 3D is a waste of time. Apart from a few arrows and blades flying here and there and seeing some teeny tiny seagulls soar above the waves, it barely appears in the 150 minutes and doesn’t justify the extra costs.

The battle sequence soon corrected itself but after that . . . Nothing. We are left with mindless exposition, delivered by stocky characters for another hour and a bit.

John Turturro was probably one of the main supporting characters that made an impression as Egyptian pharaoh Seti.

BUT that was mainly because I thought it was a bit strange that he would play the father figure. He didn’t look any older than the pair. However, I Googled Turturro and discovered he is actually 17 years older than them I don’t normally go on continuity quips but the lumbering pace gave me time to do some research.

Ben Mendelsohn stood out for me more. I couldn’t believe it was him after all the hard man roles in Starred Up and Black Sea. He was very good as the weasly and overtly camp Viceroy Hegep.

Sigourney Weaver, on the other hand, was wasted in her role. She brought her stone faced pallor to the character and maybe had one bitchy moment but apart from that, anyone could have played her! Shame.

As Moses inevitably found out the truth about his upbringing and is exiled for it rather hastily; the film withers away as did my interest.

Agonisingly slow. I really felt like I was stranded in a desert. Waiting for a decent character. A bit of plot. Something. Instead I have Moses wandering about. Slaying a random person here and there (For no reason). Marrying the lovely Maria Valverde. Promising not to leave her. Leaving her to free “his people”. After talking to a burning bush. Come again?

I’m not going to pick at the biblical story too much. The bush always did test me BUT then to have the messenger of God appear in the form of an 11 year old boy named Malak (Isaac Andrews) took the biscuit.

Moses’ conversations with Malak should have been dramatic affairs. Heated debates questioning the morals and ethics behind God’s plan to liberate the slaves. BUT all I got was Batman yelling angrily at a little boy for 20 minutes.

Andrews did his best but he seemed to struggle with some of the bigger chunks of dialogue and didn’t really have the conviction to carry it.

It didn’t help that only Moses can see Malak. So every time Aaron Paul’s Joshua checked on Moses, he could only see Bale losing his rag at a rock. That’s right, Jessie from Breaking Bad. Such a bland character. He nailed the confused slave look well. It was comical.

The plagues certainly got things moving. The visual effects were incredible, especially with the locusts, frogs and crocodiles. Wait, what?

Crocodiles. You read that, right? I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the bible. It was certainly a visceral and dark moment. The carnage was relentless. The Nile turning into one blood soaked pool. Haunting.

Indira Varma (Game of Thrones) and Ewan Bremner (Trainspotting) played the High Priestess and Expert as well as they could. The fact their characters are given such wonderful titles said it all.

Their theorizing about what made the plagues happen was interesting at first BUT got irritating in an instant.

I felt that Scott (and the cast) went through the motions with the story. I mean at least Darren Aronofsky tried to do something different with Noah. Granted, it didn’t really work and did cause a bit of a stir but it was certainly more interesting than this.

I mean between Bale and Scott, they made Moses appear like a schizophrenic. Talking to inanimate objects one second. Flying off the handle the next. What made me laugh is that the slaves constantly question his leadership and yet when the shit hits the fan, they are screaming for Moses to tell them what to do.

The pace could have been cut down by an hour and been stronger for it. It hasn’t added anything new to the story or re-imagined it in any capacity. Scott didn’t even bother showing Moses unveil the Ten Commandments after all the build up.

The parting of the Red Sea was a visual feast for the eyes. A frenetic finish to a flawed flop.

If there was to be a re-telling of a Bible story, why didn’t Hollywood take on a story that hadn’t had numerous films before it? Numerous films that were much, much better.

God have mercy on this film. The special effects and set pieces were breathtaking but the lifeless characters and mechanical story telling left me yawning.

2.5/5

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NOAH REVIEW

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Woah . . . what the hell did I just watch? This shit just got BIBLICAL. Stupid one liners aside, a rather strange viewing experience. One that I’m not sure whether I enjoyed. Arguably Hollywood taking on the Bible is always going to get mixed results. However, that is not always the case. Examples such as Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Prince of Egypt (what? Don’t judge me) are exceptions to the rule. Now credits where it’s due. The film excels with its special effects and the cast do their best with the material at hand. Now understandably that material is the Bible. Now I’ll be looking at this primarily as a film text. I’m not an atheist nor am I a believer as such. To be honest, I thought both the idea of a world created by a “Creator” and an entire universe created by a “big bang” because a thing called science said it was so, equally ridiculous. But hey everyone’s entitled to their opinion.

I digress. However, the film is full of questionable plot holes that intentionally and unintentionally pokes holes at the Old Testament itself. Now be warned there will be SPOILERS! Not the Bible bits, certain film sequences. I will try and be as cryptic as possible and as objective. Now obviously the premise we all know, in a world ravaged of sin, Noah is given a divine mission: to build an Ark to save creation from the coming flood. The opening sets up the background of the origin story of . . . us, really. Most of it, I knew. Other parts I had forgotten. Russell Crowe is a powerhouse actor and he provides a stellar performance. My main quip is his representation. Now Darren Aronofsky’s previous works have always been . . . out there. Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The (mind numbing) Fountain, and the more mainstream but surprisingly entertaining Black Swan. Aronofsky has pretty much made Noah as mainstream as possible. However, he transforms a man torn between fulfilling his duty to his Creator and the livelihood of his own family, into a demented maniac hell bent on achieving all means regardless.

Even more bizarrely, while the world is ravaged with sin, yadda yadda, a group of fallen angels are left to roam the rocky desolate landscapes. Now this part I was not aware of. The fallen angels are brilliantly designed, even if they look like Sloth from the Goonies had mated with one of the rock things from the Never Ending Story. And I couldn’t believe the talented voice cast behind them; Nick Nolte, Mark “Breaking Bad Tio Salamanca” Margolis and Kevin Durand (Real Steel and LOST). The crazy fight sequences between them and the monstrous human race desperate to board the Ark was entertaining if completely ridiculous. Aronofsky managed to convey more emotion and sympathy out of them than a number of the cast. Sir Anthony Hopkins manages to make a memorable impression in the limited screen time of the minor role of Methusaleh. It did have me pondering if Noah was allowed to save his family, why not his grandfather? Punishment for not being able to get the human race to conform and follow the righteous path? However, he was bonkers and wondered off a lot. To be honest, the supporting cast were strangely passive until the hour mark. The film was very much on the shoulders of Crowe. It was only when the humans in the area finally caught wind (come on, we’re better than that) of the Ark that things pick up, making for a tense, racy, riotous sequence. The visual CGI with the animals and the infamous flood are fantastic.

Douglas Booth (Romeo and Juliet) was highly unmemorable and passive as Shem. Logan Lerman (Perks of a Wallflower) and fellow co-star the beautiful Hermione, I mean, Emma Watson played their parts well and when given the time to shine, delivered solid performances. Jennifer Connolly (Labyrinth, always) reunites with Crowe (A Beautiful Mind) and manages to make a nothingy character stand out, especially in one tense if undeniably bizarre sequence that understandably might be where the controversy is coming from. The pair work well but fail to reignite that Beautiful Mind spark. Ray Winstone, I thought, was wonderfully gritty and gruesome as self proclaimed King Tubal-cain. Now it’s all down to how much of a Winstone fan you are. But I was pleasantly surprised and he stole the scene every time. For once, his grizzly growling was used to his strength. If you want to show the humans as nasty pieces of work, Winstone san. Once the Ark ascends, it all gets a little slow and drawn out. A slow burning if entertaining hour does not a good film make. And after two hours this film does test your resolve, if not for a tense finale.

NOW SPOILER TIME! AVOID IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING WATCHING THIS MOVIE! FOR THOSE WHO AREN’T FUSSED OR HAVE SEEN IT. CONTINUE READING THIS PARAGRAPH. Noah does everything to the letter for the Lord. He saves the animals and his family have the unexpected blessing that their son’s (well I would have assumed) wife is pregnant. Fantastic. Oh no, no. no. The human race must be no more. Which means the baby can be no more. If it is a boy, no probs. Can’t reproduce. If a girl, watch out. A compassionate hero becomes a demented mad man with one click of a finger. Unexpected? Yup. Watchable. Strangely so. Necessary? Ah, there’s the rub. Cue the time on the Ark as we wait nine months for the child to be born. Ray Winstone’s sneaky stowaway king plotting revenge for nine months? How did no one know he was on there? Also they made a herb that could knock out animals, how come it didn’t knock them out? A herb that would make them sleep for nine months? Without food or water? I mean, it’s a film but surely they could have had another trippy dream sequence in which the Lord told Noah to use said herb. I don’t know.

Visually ambitious, brilliantly acted, if drawn out, OTT, and questionably full of holes. However, this ark should manages to stay afloat, just. 3/5

Currently ranks #65 out of 161