Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. United Kingdom/USA/Spain, 2014. Chernin Entertainment, Scott Free Productions, Babieka, Volcano Films. Screenplay by Adam Cooper, Bill Collage, Jeffrey Caine, Steven Zaillian. Cinematography by Dariusz Wolski. Produced by Mark Albela, Peter Chernin, Mohamed El Raie, Mark Huffam, Denise O’Dell, Michael Schaefer, Ridley Scott, Jenno Topping. Music by Alberto Iglesias. Production Design by Arthur Max. Costume Design by Janty Yates. Film Editing by Billy Rich.
They were raised as the two princes of Egypt, Ramses (Joel Edgerton) in position to take over after the death of his ailing father (John Turturro) while adopted brother Moses (Christian Bale) provides strength at his side. The future Pharaoh is forced to exile his beloved sibling when it is discovered that he is actually the child of a Hebrew slave who saved him by sending him up the river in a basket, his adoptive mother’s servant (Tara Fitzgerald) actually his sister who accompanied him to the palace. Wandering the desert away from his accustomed life, Moses marries a Midianite woman and is awakened to the cause of his people’s slavery, leading a revolt against his former brother that includes bringing God’s wrath to his door in the form of plagues that eventually convince Ramses to let his people go. Being royally untrustworthy, Ramses then follows Moses out of Egypt with the intention of killing him, forcing our hero to part the Red Sea to get his people to safety, except in this movie it’s more like he takes advantage of a low tide. The general desire to do away with godly magic tricks, with the devastation of bloody water and locusts or the terror of the angel of death treated in a way that suggests that if you think about it long enough, there’s a scientific explanation for all of it (we saw Hilary Swank explain it in The Reaping and we were already upset at her ruining a good story as it was), is one reason why this film is so incredibly dull. The other reason is that director Ridley Scott avoids rich characters and good drama with self-important dialogue and dull plotting, his money-minded casting of extremely Caucasian actors (you’re in trouble when Turturro passes for Egyptian by comparison) at odds with a very unnecessary emphasis on narrative realism (you’re also in trouble when my Sunday School teacher is more entertaining than your billion dollar movie).