December 21, 2014

Exodus (Gods and Kings) - Some Thoughts

I didn't see the Noah movie. I'm glad I didn't after some of the reviews I read and heard. However, this new rendition of Exodus was definitely worth the ticket price.

Egyptian eye-candy

The story is oh-so-familiar, so I was very interested in their interpretation. I always love to see ancient Egypt come to life. Here are a few of my observations:

1. Christian Bale does a pretty good job with the famous role. And he wasn't hard to look at, either. I did wonder why he wasn't bald in the typical Egyptian fashion for royal men, however, it is important to note that he most likely looks better with hair.

2. Joel Edgerton, whom you may recognize from Star Wars as the young Owen Lars, was a decent Ramses. We won't talk about the scholarly discrepancies about timelines and whether he was THE Ramses that we see in the Bible account...we will just pretend like this is how it went down for the sake of entertainment.


3. The costumes were fabulous. Absolutely perfect. Even down to the wedding costume for Zipporah - nice.



4. The music was good, not memorable, but good...and not distracting.

5. Now, here's the best part - the plagues! Good G-d, this was an AMAZING portrayal of the 10 plagues G-d brings upon Egypt. I was reciting each one just like I was sitting at the seder dipping my finger in the wine, lamenting the suffering of the Egyptians. Blood...flies...frogs...boils...wow! This was done without the tedious trooping of Moses to warn about each one - they just came upon them, just like I thought it really happened. I enjoyed 'G-d' telling Moses to 'watch' after Moses tried to make Pharaoh relinquish the slaves through military action. Interesting thoughts, fascinating to watch, and kinda cool.

5. Which leads me to my next point which may be an issue for a few: G-d is depicted as a child, a young boy about 11 or so. With an accent. Still pondering that one. It could be that He came as a child to more easily be accepted by Moses...or maybe it is some sort of strange delusion due to the massive head injury Moses endured, or perhaps it is a reference that we all need to be as 'little children'...I really am unsure. But, there it was - G-d as a child. Or was he the messenger. Not sure. Oh, and no "take off your shoes, Moses, you are standing on holy ground" business, either. I kept waiting, but was treated to a mudslide instead. Again, interesting.

the Almighty...with hair.

6. Another surprise was the reason Moses left Egypt. The typical treatment follows the narrative pretty close: Moses witnesses cruel beating of Hebrew after discovering his heritage, kills the Egyptian slave master, then flees. However, in this version, the beaten slave is witnessed by Moses and the beating is halted by a rather sarcastic quip, but the Egyptians killed are actually spies sent to find and kill Moses by the Pharaoh's wife, one of which is only wounded. Interesting that it is two separate events.

7. Which leads to the next, rather personal observation - Sigourney Weaver as Pharaoh's wife. Ew.

Not my favorite actress, except in Alien. She rocked in Alien.

8. Having seen and read several (read quite a few) interpretations of this famous story, I couldn't help but to compare. There was significant nods to the old Charlton Heston flick Ten Commandments, as well as the animated Prince of Egypt. Somehow, the characters (especially the old Pharaoh and Ramses) made me think they could have all been the same actor. The sandstorm while Moses was in the wilderness was very similar to the Prince of Egypt scene, as well as the scene at the well with Zipporah and her sisters. Speaking of Zipporah, I have to say that I prefer her character (strong, opinionated leader type) in the animated classic rather than this one, although she was stunningly beautiful and exotic. Also, while in this film Zipporah's faith was mentioned, it was not expounded upon in any way. We really don't know who her people are, nor what they believe, although her father looked amazingly like Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof.

Jethro officiates the wedding
9. The Red Sea opening for passage scene was rather different, as well. No Moses raising his staff to split the waters in this one, but a gradual emptying. It was a little dizzying, and at the end, I couldn't tell which direction the tsunami was coming from. The computer effects were well done, if a little drawn out.

10. Speaking of the animation, the CGI was amazing in this film. The long-shots of the Egyptian city Memphis was worth admission, as well as the battle scenes with thousands of participants. The plagues, without question, relied on animation to make them come to life - and boy, did they!

At the end of the day, I'd have to recommend seeing this film, even if for some incredible images that will forever influence my reading of the biblical account. I may have to purchase this one just to keep it for watching around Passover time. I say go see it, if only to redeem the time you lost viewing the Noah movie.

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