Friday, 2 January 2015

REVIEW - EXODUS: GODS AND KINGS (RIDLEY SCOTT)


Bigger is not better in Ridley Scott's astonishingly uninvolved take on one of the most dramatic stories in existence, Moses' account of freeing the Hebrew slaves from Ramses' tyranny and the plagues that god wreaked on Egypt. In-built melodrama is swiftly and completely undone by Scott's obnoxious, complacent approach, his attentions caught up in the prosaic depiction of decadent destruction, bombastic imagery whose creative features and whose narrative purposes extend no further than said bombast. Exodus: Gods and Kings is, at best, functional filmmaking of the 'historical epic' variety; at worst, it has the distinction of being defined entirely by the boredom it induces. One momentous occurrence after another passes by, invariably presented as a solemn exercise in stylistic detachment, a treatment compounded by Christian Bale's blank portrayal of Moses as a man incapable of experiencing emotion. Scott directs less with ponderous poise, more with lethargy, showing little of the dynamic staging he's known for. It's truly alarming to note the outrageous quantity of scenes whose primary attribute is their banality, wherein the passive evocation of the mediocrity of dozens of other films over history is deemed acceptable. This is a level of filmmaking that I'd expect from only the most inexperienced of directors and screenwriters, and that I'd accept from none anyway. Even the stunning effects shots (that is, only the stunning ones, and not the others) produce mere apathy in the audience, gigantic, super-tsunami-sized waves earning one's respect rather than one's awe, and Scott's simple insistence on the grandeur of his vision, untroubled by notions of technique or artistry, renders these all alike in their dullness. Only some sophisticated stereoscopic effects, including exemplary depth management, some fine lighting from Dariusz Wolski and a number of impressive stunts are worth noting.