How about an epic way to start a new year? That may have been my subliminal thought as I prepared to watch this film with my family on New Year’s Day.
And epic it was, indeed. With creative license used liberally in the telling of the story, the acclaimed director Ridley Scott has certainly offered a grandiose viewing of an unforgiving landscape of Egypt and in the masses of Hebrew slaves who toil to build the architectural marvels, to the many plagues that come and go, and the eventual parting of the sea as Moses leads his people out of the clutches of Pharaoh.
And yet, there is something a little underwhelming about it all. For one thing, the famous phrase uttered by Moses, “Let my people, go!” is not once uttered by Christian Bale – who does a fine job nonetheless. And the famous burning bush scenes are accompanied by a personification of God in the form of a little boy who looks arguably quite sinister. And as for Moses and his struggle with his dual identity, it would have been nice to see that struggle explored more personally and convincingly.
Albeit the older movie, The Ten Commandments, that told the same story of the exodus of the Hebrew people may have lacked the digital and technological finesse of this one, it had a certain quality about it that overwhelmed. This one, on the other hand, succeeded unfortunately in underwhelming to a certain degree.
Still, it is a grand work of art, and the performances of the actors seem sincere and compelling. Mr. Bale makes a fine Moses, and wears his robes and sandals well. Surprising, there is even a handful of actors who play such small, insignificant roles that one wonders why they signed up – actors such as Aaron Paul (of Breaking Bad fame), Sigourney Weaver, and Sir Ben Kingsley.
Finally, the musical score is almost as grand as Gladiator, but not quite so haunting, and the battle scenes are definitely jaw-dropping.