It’s rumored that when asked why Ridley Scott cast him in his new film, Christian Bale replied, “Because I’m Bat-Moses!” (Actually, that’s not true at all, but wouldn’t it be cool if it were?)
Exodus: Gods and Kings tells the biblical story of Moses and his God-given mission to free a nation from slavery. Is it worth parting the seas to see it, or does it deserve to be struck with plagues? Well, let’s take a look at the trailer and find out.
So who stars in this movie? Christian Bale of The Dark Knight Trilogy plays Moses. Joel Edgerton of The Great Gatsby is his brother, Ramses. The film also stars Sigourney Weaver of the Alien series, Ben Kingsley of Hugo and Iron Man 3, and Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad.
The director is Ridley Scott, famous for giving us Alien and Gladiator. That means we can probably count on some epic visuals, a great atmosphere, and some memorable moments. That said, some of his latest movies have been iffy at best, so hopefully this will be a return to form and not a continuation of recent trends.
As the trailer opens on gorgeous shots of Egypt, the text tells us, “In the time when men ruled as gods, one man was chosen to change the world.” And that man was Michael Jackson. He wrote a song about it and everything. A man offscreen says Moses and Ramses are like brothers and that they should keep each other safe. Obviously, the best way to keep each other safe is by pointing swords at each other. But Ben Kingsley tells Moses something is wrong in Egypt and says, “The year of your birth, there was a prophecy that our leader would be born to liberate us.” So basically the same prophecy that gave us Anakin Skywalker, Neo, and Harry Potter.
“After 400 years of slavery, things have become much worse,” Moses tells his brother. They’re using the Israelite slaves to build the set for Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. “You must set them free,” says Moses. “Is that a threat?” Ramses asks? More of a demand, really. A threat would require implied consequences. But Moses stops Ramses from cutting off a woman’s hand and tells him he did intend his words as a threat. Stop cutting off the hands of random women, or I’ll tell Mom!
Ramses doesn’t take that well, ordering Moses and his family killed. Dude, you’re his brother. You might want to be a bit more specific than that. Soldiers attack Moses’s home with flaming arrows and apparently blow up his ammunition dump, judging by the explosion. Moses asks his wife Zipporah what is most important to her, and she tells him he is. Smart move. “And when will you leave me?” she asks him. “Never,” Moses replies. Unless I find a Cushite woman, in which case I’m sending you back to live with your father.
“Let’s just see who’s more effective at killing,” says Ramses. “You or me.” Someone hasn’t seen American Psycho (and that’s probably a good thing). He attacks Moses’s family and hangs Israelite slaves, showing just how effective he is at killing. “Is that meant to humble me?” Moses asks. “Because it will not!” At this point, I don’t think he knew they were filming. He threw another one of his tantrums and Ridley Scott said, “I can use this. Roll camera!”
But as Moses wishes on a falling star, a giant shadow falls across Egypt, which I assume can only mean that the aliens from Independence Day have arrived. Moses goes to warn his brother that something is coming, specifically plagues from God. Indeed, we see the plagues of locusts, frogs, and … crocodiles? I don’t think I remember that one, unless this guy wandered in off the set of Pan.
“Who has been telling you this?” Ramses asks as we get a glimpse of the burning bush and a lightning strike that presumably turns him into the Flash. “God,” Moses replies. He contacted me over Backtime. It would have been Facetime, but no one can see His face and live. “I am a god!” Ramses shouts. So is Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. What’s your point? Although if someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES! (Two Bill Murray movie references in a row. I’m on a roll!)
“Follow me and you will be free!” Moses tells the Israelites. Not bad, but it’s no “Come with me if you want to live.” “We’re going to recapture 400,000 slaves?” a man asks Ramses. “We’re not recapturing anyone,” says the Pharaoh. So you’re letting them all go? That’s awfully nice of you! As we get a shot from Into the Storm and an ocean splitting apart, Moses tells his people, “There is a sea ahead and an army behind!” Thank you, Captain Obvious. And the trailer ends with Moses and Ramses charging at each other in the middle of the Red Sea. Guys, do you think you could hold off on the whole revenge thing until you get out of the Splash Zone of Death so at least one of you can live?
So based on the trailer, do I recommend this movie? Yes, yes I do. It’s got incredible talent behind a good story, and the visuals are some of the best I’ve seen in a movie all year. There’s been some conflict brewing around the whitewashing of the cast, Christian Bale’s concept of Moses, and the portrayal of God as a child. Some of these may be deal breakers for you, but if they’re not, then I suspect you’ll enjoy this movie. In fact, this is one movie I can guarantee I’ll see in theaters.
But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from this trailer, it’s that you should never let Moses anywhere near a swimming pool if you’re planning on taking the high dive.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is owned by 20th Century Fox.