Exodus: God And Kings

 

Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic film. It is epic like the epics of old from David Lean and C.B. DeMille. And like modern day epics from James Cameron and, well, Ridley Scott (director of E:GAK). Which is to say, Exodus Gods and Kings is big, bold and ambitious.

The settings and the vistas are magnificent. In the old days, an epic’s trailer would mention “a cast of thousands.” In modern filmmaking, thousands of humans are not actually required to be on hand, but the shots of huge slave villages and giant projects (such as the Pyramids) provide a realistic looking depiction of what life may have been like way back in the B.C. day.

In Exodus: Gods and Kings, Moses learns of his true lineage and, after several years away from the center of Hebrew servitude to the Egyptians, returns to set his people free.

Moses goes into the mountains to talk to God. The Burning Bush is there, but the voice of God is represented by a young child (Issac Andrews) whose messages to Moses are sometimes delivered rather sternly. The kid does a great job.

How to convince pharaoh Ramesses (Joel Edgerton) to free the slaves? How about a series of plagues? 3-D embellishes the horror of the plagues, which range from locusts to flies to frogs to boils on skins. The final plague, death of a family’s firstborn, does the trick.

The exodus of the Jews climaxes with their pause at the shore of the Red Sea. Bale’s Moses and Scott do the trick of ensuring safe passage a bit differently from Charlton Heston’s Moses and DeMille.

Bale is excellent as Moses, strong but not overbearing. Edgerton seems a bit uncomfortable as Ramesses. The Egyptian style which has men encircling their eyes in eye shadow makes him look feminine, which I don’t think is the intended effect.

Also in the film’s cast are Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver and John Turturro.

Exodus: Gods and Kings runs 2:23 from the opening Fox logo to director Ridley Scott’s touching dedication of the movie to his brother Tony Scott, also a film director, who committed suicide in 2012.

If you like epic films and if you like Christian Bale, don’t miss it. But I can’t designate E:GAK a “must-see” film. (You may have many opportunities to see this film down the road as it could well become a TV classic for religious holiday viewing, just like The Ten Commandments was for many a decade.)

Mr. Peabody and Sherman

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is just okay. It looks good. The voice actors are excellent. But the film isn’t clever. And, worse, it’s not particularly funny.

Maybe I expected more because Dreamworks animation has a strong track record (Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar, etc.) Maybe it’s because the recent The Lego Movie raised the bar for animated films.

Mr. Peabody & Sherman is based on a segment from the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Those bits on the TV show employed primitive animation, but they were well written. They dripped with silly, funny cleverness. And horrible puns. Mr. Peabody (Ty Burrell of Modern Family) shares a few bad puns but they’re perfunctory.

Burrell’s voice work is spot on. (An early choice for this voice gig was Robert Downey Jr.) The child who voices Peabody’s adoptive boy Sherman (Max Charles) does a nice job, but often he sounds more like Rocky the Flying Squirrel.

The movie’s story has Sherman starting school and getting into a fight with classmate Penny (another Modern Family cast member, Ariel Winter). To resolve the issue, Peabody invites Penny and her parents (Steven Colbert and Leslie Mann) over for dinner.

When the kids are sent off to visit together, Sherman invites Penny to check out the WABAC machine. After Peabody hypnotizes the parents into a trance, he joins Sherman and Penny on trips back to the French Revolution, ancient Egypt, etc. They also drop in on Leonardo DaVinci. As mentioned, these segments look great, but their content fails to sizzle.

The film’s resolution has to do with the use of some voodoo physics to correct a time travel induced problem. Thankfully, these last few minutes of the movie manage to offer some of its funnier content.

A highlight of Mr. Peabody & Sherman is a sequence on Sherman set to John Lennon’s song “Beautiful Boy.”

For younger generations who may be less familiar with the TV version of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the movie version may rock. But for me, a boomer who has watched them most of my life, Mr. Peabody & Sherman is okay. But it should’ve been better.