Last night I previewed Hollywood's latest telling of the story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt. Here's what I think.
[Darris McNeely] As promised, we're going to give you a movie review today of the movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, the latest epic to come out of Hollywood telling the great biblical story of Moses, the exodus, the children of Israel going out of Egypt. We watched this last night in a preview showing of it and I will have to say, for those of you who saw my review of Noah earlier this year, this is a far better depiction of a biblical story than what they did with Noah. That being said, there are some problems, and perhaps, just up front, I would tell you, those of us that have grown up and seen The Ten Commandments and now would look at this and compare the two – The Ten Commandments being the one done by Cecil B. DeMille and Charlton Heston portraying Moses – go see both of them. See The Ten Commandments, watch this new one, and then get into your Bible and read the account, and you will probably learn a great deal more than you will from either one of those depictions.
But let's talk about Exodus: Gods and Kings for a moment. On a positive side, I thought that it was graphically a very, very good depiction of Egypt, with the computer-generated graphics and the way they portrayed the building of the monuments, the pyramids, the statues, and all. That was great. I thought it gave a very good understanding, visually, of the Egyptian religion and the state of slavery as the Israelites would have been in there at that time. The grandeur of ancient Egypt, the way the Pharaoh was worshiped as a god-king. The plagues that God poured out upon Israel – at least the depiction of the plagues was very good. Flies, lice, frogs – they made a misstep by putting in some huge, giant crocodiles that kind of kicked it all off. The actual plague – the last plague of God passing over Egypt, passing through Egypt, the firstborn of the Egyptians dying, I thought was very well done, and with the wailing, it gave one a very dramatic sense of exactly what that night would have been like for the Egyptians as the firstborn died. The problem with their depiction of the plagues in this movie is that they did it more as it was a natural force rather than the actual plagues coming directly from God in His direct interaction with Moses and Pharaoh. That part was lacking. So that's the typical modern skeptical view of the miracles surrounding the exodus and the story of Israel in Egypt.
The – let's talk a minute about the portrayal of Moses by Christian Bale. I grew up on Charlton Heston as – in my mind's eye, that's been always Moses. Christian Bale takes a whole different approach. I do think that Christian Bale's Moses is a more of a multi-dimensional portrayal of what Moses the man was like. However it does fall short in many ways and just because of the limitations of a screenplay and of time, you're not going to be able to get the full understanding. But I do think that they show that he was a man who went from perhaps doubt to belief and to firm faith. They show him dialoging with God, arguing even, with God, and that part you can certainly discern from the biblical record. Let's face it: Moses was a towering genius of history and of the Bible with what he did as God's leader to bring Israel out of Egypt and be the lawgiver and to be the founder of the nation of Israel. It would have taken a very, very strong, dynamic, sometimes complex individual to do what he did and that is part of – that's depicted in the Bible, certainly. And perhaps they get elements of that in this movie more so than they ever did with Charlton Heston, but then it drops off, as well.
Finally, let's look at the depiction that they make in the movie about God. God in this move Exodus: Gods and Kings is depicted as more or less an angry little child. And that's a big problem. He has a British accent and some people might have a problem with that. But an angry, vindictive, merciless God is depicted by this little child who personifies God as He interacts with Moses. And I have a problem with that. I think that that could have been done far better, but that's such as it is.
Another problem with the movie – very little biblical dialogue. Very little. It is a screenplay written as it is, but it does not – except in one case where God pronounces His name as "I AM" – I did not recognize any other biblical dialogue coming out of that.
So those are some of the problems, those are some of the strong points of the movie. What we're seeing as these movies come out of Hollywood today – the new generation of movies about these stories, these great stories of the Bible – they continue to fall short, and that reflects the age in which we live – an age of skepticism, of denial, and a lack of faith and belief. And we see that as they even try to remain true to the storyline from the Bible. They still fall short because it's coming out of a different age even than what The Ten Commandments did in the 1950s in America. And so we see that.
Again, I go back to my initial thought – go see The Ten Commandments again. Rent it, download it. Go see this one if you like. Compare the two, but then get your mind in the Bible and read the entire story – far better, far more fascinating, far more edifying in the end.
That's BT Daily. Join us next time.