December 17th, 2014
New Ridley Scott film about Moses alternately evokes and evades the dominant events in the modern Jewish world
By MICHAEL FOX
Moses, as best I recall from Hebrew school and The Ten Commandments, was a reluctant prophet with a speech impediment who was ultimately persuaded by the unspeakable, unceasing suffering of his people — and God’s fearsome support — to confront Pharaoh and lead the Hebrews out of slavery.
My, how (biblical) times have changed. The much-anticipated Hollywood epic Exodus: Gods and Kings reinvents the saga of a people’s miraculous liberation as one rugged individualist’s journey of self-discovery, identity and profound purpose.
The fundamental matter of spirituality, which might be defined in this context as the courage and power of faith, comes up in conversation a few times but not in ways that impact the moviegoer’s experience. Your post-film repartee is more likely to center on the curious and disconcerting form in which God (or is it an angel acting as his emissary?) appears.
Exodus: Gods and Kings, which opened everywhere on Dec. 12, is a sun-blistered chunk of glowering, male-centric mythmaking. Aside from its oddly anticlimactic ending — recognizing that it’s a tough call how many desert miles and years to continue the tale after the Red Sea — this is a well-paced, continuously engaging piece of mainstream entertainment with the requisite amount of impressive visual effects (in 3D). Just don’t go expecting to be awed, or to have a religious encounter.