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‘Exodus: Gods and Kings’ is a Shoddy Imitation of ‘Prince of Egypt’

Who needs Christian Bale as Moses when Val Kilmer did a brilliant job in 1998?

Alexander Aciman
October 01, 2014

Early this morning the official trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings was released on Youtube. The film, as you may have gathered from the title, tells the story of Moses, who eventually demands that Rameses frees the Jews of Egypt. The film stars Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Rameses. Aaron Paul, Sigourney Weaver, and Ben Kingsley, among others, will appear in the film as well.

Although the all-star cast may indeed bring panache to one of the oldest stories ever told, it will inevitably pale in comparison to the 1998 Dreamworks film, Prince of Egypt. The 1998 film featured literally every great actor of the decade: Val Kilmer as Moses, Ralph Fiennes as Ramses, with a side cast of Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Goldblum, Sandra Bullock, Patrick Stewart, Helen Mirren, Steve Martin—the list goes on. It’s a star-spangled cast.

And although it was fun for a while to have actors like Eric Bana and Daniel Craig pretend to be Jewish on the big screen, it’s gotten tiring. The film needed a Moses and Batman was what Ridley Scott came up with?

The trailer feels like a lot like a CGI-drenched remix of Batman Begins and Gladiator with vague Jewish base notes. One can probably expect more fast cuts and sword fights than in all of Troy. The Prince of Egypt, is already animated: there’s no need for this green-screen rethinking of Exodus.

The real problem with this new film is apparent from the trailer: The Prince of Egypt’s trailer actually tells the story of Exodus—from the basket in the water, to life as an Egyptian, to exile. The film will clearly narrate the events of Moses’ life. The trailer for Ridley Scott’s film, however, features three minutes of grunting and then an argument, and then some fighting, and then thunder in the sky, which makes it obvious that the movie is about as much a story of Exodus as 300 is about Battle of Thermopylae. Which is to say, not at all. There is no reason whatsoever that a trailer for a film in 2014 should pale to one for a late 90s animated movie.

The National Geographic 1990s series title is finally starting to make a little sense: “The ’90s: The Last Great Decade?”

42 years passed between the release of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments in 1956 and The Prince of Egypt. Only 16 have passed between the latter and Exodus: Gods and Kings. Is there such a thing as too much Exodus?

Alexander Aciman is a writer living in New York. His work has appeared in, among other publications, The New York Times, Vox, The Wall Street Journal, and The New Republic.

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