Rafael "Parker!!" Jovine’s review published on Letterboxd:
The year was 2014. The Hollywood industry was in full swing of this trend at that time which took fantasy stories and gave them a more realistic spin. Any element of fantasy or hope is left behind in favor of a dark and brooding atmosphere. During the same period of time another trend emerged (but this was shorter), where directors took these Bible stories and stripped much of their most supernatural elements, these two directors, Aronofsky and Scott, tried to translate these stories and give their iconic characters a large dose of doubt, questioning their own beliefs, an "atheist touch" if you will.
SPOILER ALERT: Despite their fans, the reality is that they both failed miserably. Proving the old adage was right: if it ain't broke, don't f**king fix it!
I will start with the positives before I discuss the negatives. Many of the theories raised about how these plagues occurred are interesting, and explain how God can use science and chance to carry out His plans. There are so many things in the Bible that people mistake as supernatural because of their semantics and lack of education, when in fact, God used natural (but rare) events to achieve his mission. Several years ago, I read that the Red River would dry up for a stretch of time because of this strange phenomenon. This phenomenon is estimated to occur every 5,000 years, according to studies broadcast by NatGeo. Obviously, there is a natural cause, but the chance that occurred at the exact moment that the people of Israel left, shows what we can call "God's hand".
On the technical side, cinematography is superb. It does a good job capturing all the glory of ancient Egypt. The visuals and special effects still holds very well, and though the sea scene may not be spectacular as in Prince of Egypt, it is still really incredible and the way the film manages to handle the suspense in that scene and keep you on edge is awesome. I found the score to be epic, bombastic, creeping under your skin and haunting you in the process.
Unfortunately, a poorly-conceived story hinders the whole thing down. I believe that whether or not you believe the Bible, each story is exceptional and no improvements are necessary, which turns out to be the primary issue with the script. The added value and changes rarely work, and they feel completely unnecessary. In a weird way, it is geared towards angering the audience that the film should target first. There is also the problem of whitewashing, and so on, and if it is true that all the actors have proven to be phenomenal, in large part, this was because they showed a real passion and interest in the roles they had to play. An interest that is conspicuously absent from this film. Still can't imagine how difficult it was for Scott and co. to find Jewish actors in Hollywood or elsewhere to play these characters. Or at least, actors who have a genuine interest in the material.
All in all, A movie that could have been Scott's triumphant return to period drama after several unsuccessful attempts, but failed to do so for a variety of dumb reasons.
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