One of the primary problems today’s filmmakers face with any swords and sandals epic is finding present-day actors that look believable in ancient times. With his two leads, director Ridley Scott seems to have overcome that in “Exodus: Gods and Kings” (Dec. 20).
As Moses, Christian Bale passes the test and as Ramses, Joel Edgerton (and his guyliner), seem to work because it looks as though the character is going to be a simpering psychopath like Joaquin Phoenix in “Gladiator.”
I must say, though, that Scott’s Ramses looks a little goofy, silly… If his introduction scene overcomes that, all good. If it doesn’t, that is the kind of thing that can tank an entire picture.
There are almost no larger-than-life actors today — no one to replace the Charlton Hestons, Yul Brynners, Burt Lancasters, Victor Matures, Kirk Douglases — but directors of Scott’s caliber can work around that by adjusting the tone of the characters and story.
Let’s not forget, though, that Scott’s batting averages on historical epics is iffy. “Gladiator” scored but “Kingdom of Heaven,” “1492: Conquest of Paradise,” and “Robin Hood” were creative and commercial clunkers.
The trailer looks CGI’d within an inch of its life, but that’s just the way things are today. Movies are now video games played by someone else. The special effects might “look” better than what DeMille created in-camera, but they don’t always “feel” better, or as real.
Those of you arguing that Scott can’t deliver because he’s an atheist should rethink that. The best example I can give you is Nicholas Ray, who directed the splendid remake of “King of Kings” in 1961.
There’s nothing to indicate that Ray was an out-and-out atheist but by 1961 the 50 year-old director of “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Johnny Guitar,” and “The Flying Leathernecks” was a twice-divorced, sexually confused bisexual with a crippling drug and alcohol problem. The following decade he would appear in a sex film where young girls received communion by performing oral sex on him.
Atheist, I can’t say. Hedonist, oh my yes, and then some.
“King of Kings” would be Ray’s last completed feature film, but it is a beautiful Christian film that affirms the faith. If Ray can pull it off, so can Scott. The question is… Does he want to?
Director Darren Aronofsky is another atheist. His “Noah” was an attack against God. He certainly could have gone the other way if he wanted.
Exit question: Will we get the Ten Commandments — not the movie but the actual Ten Commandments?
God giving Moses the Laws that would forever change civilization is the whole point of the Moses story. The Exodus means little in the scheme of things without the Laws being handed to the people responsible for spreading the word that would eventually help to civilize a savage world.
20th Century-Fox must be happy with what they have seen so far of Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” Already in process is a follow-up of sorts with another historical character from the Old Testament, King David.
From a Variety exclusive:
Though their first collaboration on the Moses tale “Exodus: Gods and Kings” doesn’t bow till December, 20th Century Fox, Chernin Entertainment and Ridley Scott are already looking to reteam on another Old Testament character, David.
Sources tell Variety that Fox has tapped Jonathan Stokes to pen an untitled pic inspired by the character from the “David and Goliath” tale and focusing on the King of Israel. Though the plot is under wraps, it’s likely that the film would focus on the king’s reign post-Goliath.
Going by the working title “David,” Scott would produce through his Scott Free banner and along with Chernin Entertainment.
Hopefully, Fox and Scott learned from “Noah’s” disappointing box office returns that you can’t pull a bait and switch on the faithful. “Noah” was anti-God and barely cracked $100 million domestic after debuting with over $40 million. There’s no question the excitement was there but word-of-mouth did all kinds of damage.
C’mon, is it really so hard to be true to story, even if you don’t personally believe it?
All kinds of Jewish studio heads and producers greenlit and helped to create some of the most memorable, cherished, and classic Christian films the world will ever see. They did this because they were good businessmen who were also tolerant of the beliefs of others.
They were also almost all political conservatives.
In 1985, director Bruce Beresford attempted a secular telling of the King David tale with Richard Gere in the title role. At the time Gere was the hottest heartthrob in Hollywood. The movie went down like Goliath.