Thursday, 11 December 2014

A Pinoy At The Movie: EXODUS: Gods and Kings

I could hear the song When You Believe playing in my mind when I was entering the cinema to watch Exodus: Gods and Kings. That song was in the animated movie Prince of Egypt, and was sung by Mariah Carey, when she was still skinny, and Whitney Houston, when she was still alive.

Both movies, Prince of Egypt and Exodus were based on the story of Moses and how he lead the Chosen People out of Egypt. In Prince of Egypt, Moses was a cartoon; in Exodus: Gods and Kings, he was Christian Bale.  And since the year was 1300 BCE, the Batman didn't have his bat mobile yet, nor was he in Gotham City. He was in Memphis, not in Tennessee, but Memphis, an ancient city in Egypt. 

The main reason I wanted to see the movie was to see the special effects. Just like any Catholic, I also read and studied the Bible when I was still in school. As in the case of good books, everyone always wanted to see them made into movies. And this Book of Exodus definitely made everyone look forward to watching it in film.

Although there have been movies based on the stories in the Bible, this one interests me a lot because of its events that were, as they say, of biblical proportions. 

I especially enjoyed the scenes of the ten plagues, not that I have a sudden schadenfreude for the ancient Egyptians, but who doesn't want to see huge Nile River crocodiles with an appetite of a pharaoh eat those fishermen on the Nile, or those frogs croaking up into the pharaoh's bedroom? And those flies and boils! Eeew! The special effects team of this movie made sure those plagues really looked the way I imagined them to be when I first read this scene in the Bible during my grade school days.

And who doesn't look forward to see the parting of the Red Sea? With the troops of Rameses on chariots and horses chasing Moses and his people, it was interesting to see how the sea dried up like it does before a tsunami. But I wondered how they were able to cross it on the wet and sandy sea bed, which seemed bereft of any aquatic life form.

Other than the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, I also looked forward on how the director would show the scenes between Moses and God, from whom he was taking orders. It turned out, God was in a form of a boy with a strong British accent. It would have been more interesting if they just did away with the boy and instead showed God as a burning bush or some booming voice from above, which only Moses could hear.

As to the other cast, John Turturro, from Transformers' Sector 7, played Seti I and didn't exactly sound and move like a pharaoh. His wife Queen Tuya was played by Sigourney Weaver who had limited spoken lines, but whose eyes were heavily lined just like Elizabeth Taylor's Cleopatra. Of course, we can't compare the two. Elizabeth Taylor had 65 costume changes as Cleopatra. Weaver, here, seemed just to have worn the same white toga in all her scenes, which I think were about three. Or four. I didn't count. 

The biggest letdown was Joel Edgerton, playing Rameses II, the nemesis of Moses. From the first scene, he seemed lost, not in Moses' shadow, but in this role. He didn't look like he wanted to chase Moses through the dessert, the mountains and finally, across the dried up sea. Colin Farrell could have played this character better. 

I would recommend this film if only for the special effects of the plagues and the parting of the Red Sea, and also the chase scene on the mountains where Rameses's chariots were snaking through the edge of a cliff. If you also read the Book of Exodus during your grade school days like I did, watching this film would definitely bring back those days. Come to think of it, I couldn't think of any book from the Bible that had more action scenes than the Exodus. 

So, what Bible story will they turn into a movie next? 

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