Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 “The Ten Commandments” still shimmers as one of the most iconic films of all time; technological wizardry, blatantly remarkable, set the bar for future filmmakers; it is a masterpiece enjoyed yearly by millions as a Passover/Easter traditional viewing experience; Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner are memorably cemented as the eponymous embodiment of “Moses” and “Ramses.” Christian Bale has more than metamorphic mountains to scale as Moses in “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” passably successful, he imbues the general/nomad/reluctant leader with an abundance of sincerity and angst; flawed is his relationship with Ramses; raised as brothers, from the commencement only a meager trace of affection lies between the two; Ramses, played half-heartedly by Joel Edgerton, is whiny, inept, and jealous; a self-centered, cruel Pharaoh who is justly served, and forced to devour his humble pie.
Gargantuan, egregious error was a child (Isaac Andrews) playing a mean-spirited, vengeful, wrathful “god;” Moses would be hard- pressed to deliver his ten commandments, let alone spend eternity with a spoiled, entitled brat.
Director Ridley Scott’s powerful handling of the “plagues;” furiously plummeting, viciously scarring, torturously crippling Egypt’s inhabitants; negotiation, minimal but finally resolved when Ramses allowed the Israelites to go. The Red Sea tsunami is stunningly satisfying.
Exodus is mentioned twice in the Bible (Exodus 20: 1-17 and Deuteronomy 5-4-21); redundancy can be effective, but alas in this biblical epic dedicated to Ridley Scott’s brother Tony, it is a stale rendition, repletion of an exhausted topic.