This year the Bible is going blockbuster, with two renowned directors taking up better-known stories of the holy book and elaborating on them to create big budget epics for the big screen. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah opened up the rainy spring season with a moderately decent box office take and generally positive critical reception, and now it’s Ridley Scott’s turn as he takes on the story of Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings.
Considering the talent attached, which includes Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Rhamses, the hype for Exodus: Gods and Kings has been surprisingly muted. In fact, a lot of the attention directed at the film has come in the form of people criticizing Scott for filling the main cast of a movie set in Egypt with spray-tanned white actors.
The release of Exodus: Gods and Kings is now starting to creep up on us and so to remind people that it’s on the way, Twentieth Century Fox has released two new TV spots for the film, along with some posters showing Rhamses and Moses at each other’s throats. The little bird head peering out of the front of Moses’ helmet is honestly a little bit distracting, but perhaps that’s how he intimidates his enemies.
The story of Moses has been adapted for the screen many times before, from live-action epics like The Ten Commandments to DreamWorks’ animated tale The Prince of Egypt, but Scott’s film seems to be part of a recent push for Biblical and/or religious themed epics in Hollywood; another upcoming title is Ben-Hur, which will star Jack Huston in the title role.
Accusations of whitewashing aren’t the only controversy to have afflicted Exodus: Gods and Kings in the lead up to its release. Bale recently drew outrage from Christian groups and writers after he described Moses (and God) in less than flattering terms during a press conference in LA, saying:
“I think [Moses] was likely schizophrenic and was one of the most barbaric individuals that I ever read about in my life… He was a very troubled, tumultuous man and mercurial. But the biggest surprise was the nature of God. He was equally very mercurial.”
Whether it turns out to be better or worse than Noah, it’s quite impressive that Exodus: Gods and Kings has managed to trigger multiple controversies before it even hits theaters. Of course, perhaps a bit of warring among critics is only fitting considering the epic battle scenes that have been boasted in the trailers.
Exodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters on December 12.