Exodus: Gods and Kings

It's pretty useless to expect that Hollywood will get anything even remotely right when it comes to ancient Egyptian history, yet somehow I keep hoping. Granted, Ramses II doesn't really deserve the title of 'the Great', which is usual for rulers who give that sort of nickname to themselves like he did, but the amount of things they got wrong is still pretty breathtaking. I was really hoping we were done with the myth that everything in ancient Egypt was built by slave labor, but they didn't even manage to get that right.

But I suppose when you've already gotten together such a strange mixture of accents for your main characters, accuracy isn't exactly a top priority. Christian Bale (The Dark Knight Rises) is technically Welsh but doesn't sound it, and it was a little jarring to hear Moses using casual, rather modern-sounding American English when others like John Turturro (of some of the recent Transformers debacles) as Pharaoh Seti I was making some effort to sound more formal. And then there was Ben Kingsley (Iron Man 3), sounding impeccably British as usual, plus actresses from Spain and Israel (María Valverde and Hiam Abbass, respectively). Of course, there was also Joel Edgerton (The Great Gatsby) as Ramses talking blithely about "economic reasons" at one point, when 'economics' wasn't even a word until the 16th century AD and wasn't used the way he was using it until 1792. But I'm probably being too fussy. I usually am.

Anyway, there's not a lot to say about the plot, so I guess my usual digressions aren't such a bad thing. Admittedly I don't know all the details of the Moses story, but I did remember the general outlines: the burning bush, the parting of the Red Sea, and the leading of the Hebrews out of Egypt, and that was all I needed. I really didn't like the way they handled the whole 'talking to God' angle, either. God was awfully testy and rude, for one thing, though that isn't too surprising considering what the Old Testament is like. You won't find a credit for 'God', by the way -- he's listed as Malak, which means angel, and yes, he is awfully young for the role, though I guess technically anyone would be.

Let's see. Sigourney Weaver (Cold Light of Day) is Ramses' mother, but she's only in two or three scenes and hardly gets to say or do anything. Really, the only female who even got any good lines was Indira Varma (Game of Thrones) as the High Priestess, and there wasn't nearly enough of her, either. I tried to enjoy the movie, I really did, but it wasn't giving me any help and I can't do all the work myself. Just because it's in 3-D, people, doesn't mean that you can forget about everything else.

Ahem. In other words, I can't go any higher than three out of five. It was two and a half hours, which was at least half an hour too long, and nothing against Christian Bale, but he never quite seemed to settle into the role, which left me without a character I felt like I could relate to on some level. Still, I could sympathize now and then. They mostly skipped the forty years of wandering through the desert, but considering that the only reason the Red Sea has to be parted is because Moses got lost in the mountains, his sense of direction must be just about as awful as mine.

I have no idea if it's historically accurate, but I loved the headdress.


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