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Taking an allegory and trying to make it specific by filming it is a dangerous endeavor for a film maker. Ridley Scott does just that, and the result is a miserable failure. The story is about a suppressed people seeking to escape by means of a spiritually inspired leader. The film is about an Egyptian Braveheart with a Spartacus gene and Ben Hur skills who only gets a bit spiritual after getting knocked on the head by a ravine.

I kid you not: 5 minutes in, I had my first “really? Really???” moment, and started to get bored Michael Bay style – I was thrown into epic battles without sense or structure, nonsense script lines about brothers and family… The only thing keeping me awake was the 5-year old kid in the row behind me, who in defiance of all codes of conduct started kicking the seat ferociously from around minute 15. I would have joined him, but nobody was sitting in front of me, so the violation would have been futile.

There does not seem to be a reason for making the film in the first place. There is no particular visual approach to the parting of the sea, there is no narrative innovation to the Biblical plagues. Those plagues are actually suffering from confusion: it seems by introducing some crocodiles at the beginning that in turn cause a lot of bloodshed, which turns the Nile red, you could believe the film makers try to step away from divine intervention and introduce natural causes. But then again they have a little annoying God-boy who causes all the mayhem one after the other and in consequence there is absoutely no way of claiming these developments are coincidential.

As for the actors: most of them I don’t know, and those that I do know, I don’t care for. The Welsh Batman looks very bothered as always (making me long for the more burdened bothered look of Australian Noah just recently, who would have thought…). His Moses is in Egypt with the royal family, then away for some years, then back, and it seems that wherever he is, he is visible only to his friends, but completely invisible to his enemies. That is all the more astonishing because he and Ben Kingsley have very funny makeup, like tramp stamp ladies who fell asleep in the sun studio, so it should be easily possible to spot them in an Egyptian Memphis City.

What really is bothersome, by the way, and kicked me out of the story 2 minutes in, was the fact that deep in ancient Egypt, there are all those British and American people speaking real or trained British English, as if someone dropped us in an episode of a Lawrence of Arabia soap opera. Have we not left this kind of foolhardiness behind us sometime in the 60s and do we not know how to deal with regional accuracy in storytelling??? This is embarrassingly clumsy, hard to understand from a film maker such as Scott.

The best bit about the film was very early on there was that cute bear with the hat and no pants that got stranded at a London train station and then picked up by the nice Lord from Downtown Abbey. But that story line unfortunately was not followed through.

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/exodus_gods_and_kings/

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