We finally went to see Exodus, and I thought: it’s not all that bad – it doesn’t really deserve to be passed over – at least, not to the extent that it has been. A couple of things you should know:
Ridley Scott does the ancient world like no one else. The first fifteen or twenty minutes are magnificent. The sets, the costumes, the feel of it – the money that went in to make it feel like this. The cameras they used must have been top of the range.
The next thing is – you wonder if they made Lawrence of Arabia today would anyone care. Exodus is an epic. The scenery – I don’t know where they shot it – sometimes recalls those old epics. But today, I feel, we’re used to it – from non-epics even – films like Batman…
It’s a test of your bladder, and in this, it made me wonder if the cinema will survive. Not because it’s not great seeing things on the big screen. But because we’re used to seeing things in our own homes now, steamed, downloaded, etc – and what that means is: we can pause it all the time – we pause it and talk about something – we pause it and make a drink, go to the toilet. We like being able to pause it. And to skip the ads. The era of the trailer in cinemas should be dead – I’ve seen them all on YouTube – but it’s not. I have to sit there and watch them again. Interspersed with commercial ads for non-film products. And I don’t like it. But I’m sitting in the middle of the row so I can’t even go out for a piss because I don’t want the hassle of disturbing everyone.
For the first hour of Exodus, they rehashed the Gladiator narrative – a ruler preferring a good man to his own son – the conflict between those two – the exile of the hero – the hero’s return. It was amazing that they stuck to this. It felt like cheating in an exam. It felt like – everyone was scared not to remake Gladiator and scared to remake it at the same time.
Ben Kingsley can play Hindus, Hebrews, whatever faith you want. He’s a top notch actor.
They had a difficult problem on their hands – how to represent God? And they solved this difficult problem well by getting a young boy to stand in as God – but they cast an annoying English boy…
Finally – it will make you sound like you live in a theocracy – but you should be able to tell people that the Moses film is much better than the Noah film. There’s no bullshit about it. There may be too many plagues, but the plagues were all in the source material so what could they do? (I thought they should have someone say “Jeez, those last three plagues really tipped us over the edge”).