For a while there, 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros. had another battle of the copycat movies on their hands, where it concerned the studios’ dual Moses films in development. Over the past couple years, we’d been hearing that WB had its eyes on Steven Spielberg to direct a new blockbuster centered around the Biblical figure, titled Gods and Kings – described as a Braveheart-esque epic take on the story – but the filmmaker officially passed on the project earlier this year, only for Oscar-winner Ang Lee’s name to quickly enter the conversation as a possible replacement director (Lee has since moved on to different pastures).
Unfortunately for WB’s Moses flick, Fox’s similar religious project Exodus started to gain traction around the same time that Spielberg formally said no to Gods and Kings. The former had been developing for a while under Ridley Scott’s supervision, before it was given an official late 2014 release date just under three months ago (at the time of writing this).
Deadline is reporting that Joel Edgerton has entered negotiations to play the Egyptian pharaoh Ramses in the Scott-directed Exodus, with Christian Bale lined up to portray the prophet Moses – Ramses’ adopted brother, for those who are a little rusty on their Bible studies. Skipping over the discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate for the Australian Edgerton to play Ramses: the actor is very much in his prime right now, having impressed with one performance after another from such movies as Animal Kingdom, Warrior, Zero Dark Thirty and The Great Gatsby – which is to say, he’s a fine choice, skill-wise, to face off against the heavy-hitting Bale as Moses in Scott’s new cinematic venture into the ancient world.
When Scott first started to talk about Exodus – back before the project’s official titled has even been revealed – he indicated that the focus of the film will not be on “the big stuff that everybody knows” (see: the elements of the Moses story that were highlighted in both of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments films). Instead, Scott admitted that he was more interested in smaller and more personal details, such as Moses’ relationship with Ramses – which, itself, was given more attention in DreamWorks’ animated musical iteration of the story, The Prince of Egypt (released back in 1998).
A character-driven retelling of the Moses story featuring Bale and Edgerton as the leads – with Scott directing a revised script draft penned by Oscar-winner Steve Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) – sounds like a project that could be both visually breathtaking and dramatically engaging. On the other hand, nowadays Scott’s films tend to split people to some varying degree, be it his take on Robin Hood (starring Russell Crowe) or the highly-divisive Alien spinoff Prometheus – and that may happen again later this year, when Scott releases the Cormac McCarthy-scripted crime drama/thriller The Counselor.
Are you interested in Exodus based on the casting and details revealed so far – or would you rather just stay home and re-watch The Ten Commandments/Prince of Egypt instead?
Exodus will part the Red Sea in U.S. theaters on December 12th, 2014.