höddi’s review published on Letterboxd:
(Not really a proper review, more of a collection of thoughts I had after this viewing)
By quite a margin, my favorite of Ridley Scott's epics.
The Book of Exodus has been my favorite bible story since I can remember myself, so even though I've slightly strayed away from the religion, the story is still close to my heart.
Scott's Exodus doesn't focus as much on, nor gives as much importance to interpersonal relations as many previous iterations of the story have, and it shouldn't, that part of the story was done nigh perfectly in The Prince of Egypt and wouldn't benefit from a different take.
Scott is more interested in Moses' relationship with god, which was only slightly touched upon in the most notable adaptions of the story so far (The Ten Commandments and POE).
The "miraculous" elements are mostly downplayed, digging at the mythological elements of God's involvement (the plagues being the most notable) and instead focusing on God as a symbol... a projection of the idea "God is within us", and a catalyst for Moses finding his faith, and accepting his heritage. The supernatural is definitely present, but the force behind it is more vague than "because God"... (will pay more attention to this on future viewings)
It's rough around the edges in its execution, but I'd say this is by far the most layered interpretation of the biblical story I've seen yet.
Performances, score, visuals... everything (as we've come to expect from Scott's epics) is more than up to par.
Quick notes on these factors:
- Bale's performance is fantastic. He instills such a credible amount of sincerity and humanity to Moses, that even if Charlton Heston's overpowering screen presence is laudable, this is by far my preferred version of the Hebrew liberator.
As I said earlier, Scott doesn't really focus on the relationship between Moses and Ramses (an impressively humane Joel Edgerton) that much, but the performances are good enough to make it work.
- Iglesias' score, like the film, feels like a modern take on the biblical epic. The main theme isn't prominent enough throughout to completely manifest itself in memory, but it's very strong nevertheless. Really like Iglesias' use of violins.
- The visuals are truly something to behold, and not just in the spectacle. The details given to each set is remarkable, and the aerial shots of the Egyptian empire are beautiful. Easily feels like Scott's most eye-popping film since Blade-Runner.
Still not sure if I really prefer it to Prince of Egypt, the differences between their approach to the story are too significant for me to decide which take is more fashionable.
I do know however, that I love this film, and will be giving it a regular viewing from know.
(Gonna try a new scoring system thingy)
Production Design: 10/10
Special Effects: 9/10
Personal Score: 9/10