After nearly two years since the initial announcement was made, Ridley Scott’s biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings is now only one month out from its wide theatrical premiere. Despite surprisingly small levels of advance hype, and uncomfortable accusations of whitewashing being levied at Scott for casting mostly white actors in a film set in ancient Egypt, Exodus still appears to be gaining some anticipatory steam as we get closer and closer to its release date.
20th Century Fox has released four new TV trailers for the film, each highlighting a different aspect of the story. The first of these Exodus TV promos, which can be seen at the top of this page, concerns the battle between brothers Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) that provides the central narrative thrust.
As anyone familiar with the Bible can attest, Moses is tasked by the Almighty with freeing the Hebrew slaves from their subjugation under the Pharaoh’s empire, and tries desperately to convince his brother to do the right thing. Of course, Ramses fails to let Moses’ people go, triggering the literal wrath of God to descend from the heavens and force the issue.
The second TV preview (see below) expands on the heavenly wrath part, spotlighting some of the plagues and torments visited upon Egypt after Ramses’ refusal to comply with Moses’ demand. More than anything, these scenes look to realize Exodus’ ambitions as an epic story, with expensive CGI special effects flying around the screen in a veritable torrent of destruction.
Next we have clip number three, which focuses on Moses’ commitment to lead his people to freedom, and his unwavering determination to save the lives of those he holds dear. Moses’ people have placed their future in his hands, and the weight of that burden clearly holds heavy on his heart. These scenes serve as sort of a counterpoint to the spectacle glimpsed in the second spot, and serve to highlight Exodus’ more conventionally dramatic elements.
Finally, the last Exodus preview (see below) shifts the spotlight over to Ramses, and more specifically his god complex. Ramses refuses to heed his brother’s threats of divine punishments, instead viewing himself as a god among men. His hubris is boundless, and threatens the very survival of his empire. Of course, when you believe yourself to be all powerful, why would you fear the warnings of your enemies?
In a way, Ridley Scott himself may end up a victim of his own hubris here, as while exact budget figures for Exodus are currently unavailable, an estimate of $150 million to $200 million seems fair, and may actually be less than the final figures. With epic battles and scenes of historical destruction come equally epic costs, and while Scott has the hit historical drama Gladiator on his resume, he also helmed the 2005 critical and commercial flop Kingdom of Heaven.
Both Scott and 20th Century Fox are taking a big risk here, effectively banking on the fact that Exodus’ cavalcade of high-profile names – Bale, Edgerton, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, etc. – will be enough to draw the masses into their local cineplex on opening weekend, despite the controversy over casting, adapting a told-and-retold Biblical story, and so forth.
Then again, there may never be a better time to open a biblical epic than right now. Faith-based films have been huge money makers in the last few years, with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah in particular more than doubling its production budget worldwide. Will Exodus: Gods and Kings be a return to Gladiator form for Ridley Scott? Or an overly ambitious misfire? Only the burning bush knows for sure – and he isn’t talking.
Exodus: Gods and Kings opens in theaters everywhere on December 12th, 2014.
Source: 20th Century Fox