Last night my wife and I saw the Exodus movie by Ridley Scott. She talked me into it. She told me it would be something people would expect me to see and say something about. Pardon me, but if my audience is this cruel, I need to rethink what I’m doing online.
What follows really isn’t a review. I can’t improve on the way my friend at Logos, Eli Evans, reviewed it, buy simply posting this video clip as his review. There are few spoilers in what follows. Think of them as my Christmas gift to all of you — so you can save the money and do something better with it, like buy a Chia Pet.
First, the single positive here (sort of) is that Exodus isn’t as bad as Noah, at least in terms of being bizarre. Exodus was an insulting bore. After the Prometheus disappointment (see my review, “A Galactic Bore“), I have completely lost faith in Ridley Scott’s ability to tell a good story. But at least it wasn’t Noah, which was more like how Willy Wonka would have written Genesis 6-9. Describing the relationship of one to the other feels like explaining the difference between absurd and bizarre. Webster is some help here:
absurd (Ridley Scott’s Exodus)
1: ridiculously unreasonable, unsound, or incongruous
2: having no rational or orderly relationship to human life: meaningless
bizarre (Darren Aronofsky’s Noah)
a: odd, extravagant, or eccentric in style or mode
b: involving sensational contrasts or incongruities
How absurd was Exodus? Well, I learned that Moses was a terrorist, an Israelite Che Guevara. I also learned he’s a good guesser. At the point of the final plague, the death of the firstborn, he tells everyone to slay a lamb and apply the blood to the doors of their homes, not because God provided any instruction, but … just because, I guess. When asked why, Moses says something like, “Pity the lambs . . . if I’m right, we’ll remember them as blessings forever.”
As many of you will know by now, God appears to Moses as a little boy that likes to play with tiny rocks shaped like squares. God is a brat to be more precise. One reviewer my wife found on her Facebook page said it best: “This is the first movie portrayal about God I’ve ever seen that made me think that God needed a spanking.”
The movie took an odd turn with respect to miracles. It attempted to frame some of them as natural disasters (certain of the plagues were a logical chain of events), while others were obviously supernatural. Frankly, I think the most spectacular miracle in the film was how Moses and Ramesses could both simultaneously survive getting crushed by millions of metric tons of water — and wind up on opposite sides of the Red Sea. (See the definition of “absurd” above).
There were two “favorite” moments for me, both of which had me talking out loud in the theater. First, it was nice to see Jar-Jar Binks in another film. (Yes, I said that out loud.) He played the Egyptian physician trying to explain the plagues. If this description makes you see the film, I apologize – try YouTube in a few months instead. Get the laugh for free. Second place goes to the moment when Moses is at the Red Sea wondering where to cross (he’s lost). In my head I said to myself, “This must be where he sees the UFO.” But before I could get it out, right on cue Moses sees something streak across the sky that showed Moses where the Israelites needed to cross (I guess it was a shooting star — but a UFO could be mistaken for one of those, as we well know). I told my wife I had that pegged (out loud) right after it happened. I’m not sure why, but she wasn’t impressed. Anyway, why not? After all, Ridley Scott had Jesus being one of the giant alien “engineers” in the original Prometheus script.
All in all the film was an unimaginative, mind-numbing bore. And I’m not talking about how it gets biblical details wrong. That’s always a given, even with the best intentions (cp. The Bible series on cable TV last year). What I’m talking about is good storytelling, skilled acting, and moving dialogue. This movie had none of those things. As stilted as the original Ten Commandments could be, there were at least memorable lines (my favorite is what Yul Brynner/Pharaoh says when he sees the Israelites trapped between his army and the Red Sea: “The God of Moses is a poor general”). Minus the CGI, Ridley Scott would be making B movies, fodder for the old Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Pretty sad.