‘Exodus’: Special effects and spectacle

‘Exodus’: Special effects and spectacle

There’s no Elvis in Scott’s wildly misconstrued, $140 million biblical epic. There are giant crocodiles and chariot chases and tidal waves and quite possibly the most bewildering array of accents—both genuine and affected—ever to be collected in a single motion picture. But no Elvis. …

Alas, the title is the least of the movie’s problems. This is a film that aspires to be an action flick, a character study, and a theological meditation, and fails on each count. The CGI is often spectacular—the palaces, the armies, the plagues of frogs and hail and locusts—and it comes as close as anything else to offering a rationale for the movie’s existence. But the special effects are never persuasively integrated into the drama, instead playing as rowdy intermissions from it. …

I would be remiss here not to describe Moses’ interactions with God who, in Scott’s telling, is principally depicted as appearing in the guise of a little boy. (The burning bush barely gets a cameo.) Scott chose for the role an 11-year-old Brit named Isaac Andrews, on the grounds that he exuded “innocence and purity.” Now obviously the Voice of God is a tough role for any performer, let alone one who has not yet hit puberty. But where Scott detected innocence and purity, I confess I saw mostly an irritable petulance. (Moses: “Where have you been?” God/boy: “Watching you fail.”) This is the first portrayal of God I’ve ever encountered who looked like he could use a good spanking. …

Behind Bale, the rest of the cast is an almost unmitigated disaster, a haphazard assortment of performers who often seem to be inhabiting different movies altogether. Scott has taken some flack for “whitewashing” the film, but perhaps more notable is the randomness with which he has done so.

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