Ridley Scott’s ‘Exodus’: Holy Week at Christmas

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

It’s an unusual time of year for a movie like this. Sure it’s huge and epic and has all these impressive special effects but Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings is lengthy, somber, serious fare.

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I remember, in the ‘70s over Holy Week, in a Martial Law world with no cable TV—TV stations would either be off the air or show some religious sword and sandals epic in the afternoon: The Robe, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, etc—Exodus brought me that. Except that it had Christian Bale and 2014 special effects.

It runs at two hours and 22 minutes though it feels much longer. And already you are just going through several of the highlights in the life of Moses (Christian Bale). Knowing Ridley Scott, I can only imagine the things left in the editing room.

You get to see Moses’ early life at court. You also realize John Shooter from Secret Window and Herbie Stempel from Quiz Show a.k.a. Brooklyn native John Turturro is Seti—he is a great actor but it can be a bit unsettling if you see him ruling Egypt if you remember him from those roles. Sigourney Weaver appears as Tuya but her role was very nebulous. She pops in and out and you sort of go, “What was that?”

The first part of the story explores the dynamic between Ramses (Joel Edgerton who everyone noticed in The Great Gatsby) and Moses. It takes a while to get to the “good stuff”—which for me would be the 10 plagues: water turning to blood, frogs, lice, flies, diseased animals, boils, hail, locusts, darkness and then finally, the death of the first born.

Then after that, I waited through the “talkies” for The Crossing of the Red Sea. Since most of us went to Catholic school or have Catholic education offered in secular schools, we are all familiar with this story. So like watching a fairytale—it’s about waiting for your favorite parts. Though is certainly on the grim side as far as fairy tales go. We are reminded again of the Old Testament God: vengeful and jealous.

I still am trying figure whether Ridley Scott is treating the Book of Exodus as “fantasy” material or if he is making a statement about religion, Christianity, Catholicism or God or if he’s doing both.

I left the cinema feeling like a had a refresher course in grade school religion class, like it was Holy Week and like I needed a theology scholar to have coffee with after.

In terms of acting, this is the Bale and Edgerton show, with lots of great but under utilized talent like Ben Kingsley (Nun) and Aaron Paul (Joshua).

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Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods and Kings opens today and is in regular, 3D and 3D IMAX formats.

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