xXx: Return of Xander Cage
The last forty minutes of the movie do come together in a pretty diverting way.
A numbing and soulless spectacle of 3-D, computer-generated imagery run amok, Ridley Scott’s “Exodus: Gods and Kings” presents an enduring tale by pummeling us over the head with it.
The story of Moses rising up against the Pharaoh Ramses and leading hundreds of thousands of Hebrew slaves out of Egypt to freedom is one with which we’re all extremely familiar. It’s the entire point of Passover. Scott is not reinventing the wheel here. Rather, he’s invented the biggest, shiniest, noisiest wheel imaginable, then he runs over us with it rather than inviting us along for the ride.
Certainly, there’s an allure to seeing this sort of old-fashioned, biblical epic on the big screen–and indeed, within this proliferation of pixels, there is undeniable craft and heft to the massive set pieces and behemoth battles. From the costumes to the weaponry to the interiors, it’s obvious that Scott’s team took great care in considering and creating every detail. But the film as a whole (with a script credited to Adam Cooper & Bill Collage and Jeffrey Caine and Steven Zaillian) feels overstuffed and over-glossed. Self-serious to a fault, it packs in more and more in terms of story and extravagant visuals while offering too little in terms of actual character development and engaging drama.
When he’s been at his absolute best in his lengthy career, directing films like “Blade Runner” and “Alien” and even "Thelma & Louise," Scott has established himself as a visionary and a master of creating imagery that would go on to be iconic. “Exodus” feels oddly impersonal. It’s hard to tell what Scott’s point is here, beyond making his Academy Award-winning “Gladiator” look like an independent film by comparison. Earlier this year, “Gladiator” star Russell Crowe played the title character in Darren Aronofsky’s “Noah.” That was a biblical epic which also was massive in scope but at the same time beautiful and strange; it stayed true to its source material but found an intriguing and challenging tone. It actually evoked emotion.