King Seti is dying and about to pass the throne on to Ramses. His best friend, and high adviser, Moses has plans that need to be carried out for the people of Egypt and sustain the kingdom. Ramses gets side tracked with rumors and enjoying his rule over the Jewish people. Ramses finds out that Moses is a Jew and has a sister. He gets upset by this and casts Moses out. In turn Moses wonders the desert until he finds a remote village that takes him in. Then one night while looking for his lost sheep he believes he encounters God and is told about his peoples suffering.
Most religious films piss me off with their canned acting, terrible dialogue, just feeling dated, or spending too much time focusing on the terrible things that happened. Much like most of Charlton Hestons movies, and acting. Yes, I know I’m taking a pot shot at someone huge, but I’m just as entitled to my opinion just as you are to disagree with my opinion. This surprised me by striking a balance between history and the religious tones without coming off as oppressively preachy or depressing. Also I don’t understand the stupid controversy huffed up about this movie. “Hurr they didn’t hire Egyptian Actors!” Well hue hue hue to you too. No disrespect to the International Egyptian Actors community, but I don’t know of any Egyptian actors, even from the Golden Era of cinema. Also this is directed by Ridley Scott for fucks sake. He isn’t going to hire nobodies or poor actors for his films. He hired all really well rounded actors and got good performances out of all of them.
The movie is beautifully scenic. A lot of the shots add a huge amount of atmosphere to various dramatic scenes and almost looked painted. However this draw back to this is that some really beautiful shots will take up a good bit of time. Yes it sets a soothing mood, but I feel it’s strange since in the next few scenes Moses will be wielding a sword and killing people left and right. Another odd thing is that when the plagues descended upon Egypt they spent only a small amount of time on it, which is fine, but I don’t feel they made it as gruesome as it was made out to be in the Bible. Sure they didn’t want to make it too rough for a Christmas movie, but it really devastated the economy of Egypt and it was only given maybe 5 minutes of the film. I’m not saying they needed to show the gore, but telling a little more of the impact would have helped. Like they had a great scene where random poor people broke into a wheat storage building and starting stealing the wheat. Now of course the empire retaliates by setting them on fire. In turn it burns half of the wheat in the building. If it gave more examples of the chaos that ensued I think it would have helped the film out. The only other real weakness of this film is that we’ve seen/heard this one before at least once. With a heavily Jewish influence in the media today it’s difficult not to notice.
Christian Bale gives a solid performance. Oddly enough it mirrors some of his more serious roles while still having a solemn and calm undertones. Joel Edgerton was moody and did well displaying subtle rage without looking canned. It’s one of the more difficult ones to do since everyone seems to think ever you over do it or looking more constipated then angry. John Turturro is always a reliable actor. He’s one of my favorite bit actors, but this performance wasn’t one of his best. I don’t know if the role was written to seem stuffy, but it seemed off with everyone behaving with a little more of a natural feel then, well, him. Ben Mendelsohn did a great job appearing as a elites asshole who really loved power, and considerably racist. Most everyone else had minor bit parts and I don’t feel right to critique them on maybe less then 10 lines in the entire movie.
I enjoyed this film, even for a religious piece. It was structurally balanced and had enough themes to warrant it as a Christmas movie. So it wasn’t too graphic. The acting was decent with a strong performance from the main characters. The only major weakness it has is that if you pay attention to anything American, or Christian, or any kind of Christmas movie ever, then you’ve probably heard this story before. If you like this kinda movie, or the actors, then I’d see it at least once.