EXODUS GODS AND KINGS is a 2014 update of DeMille's classic "The Ten Commandments" with MUCH better special effects, none of the fun and some heavy attitude.
Okay, so it's not strictly a remake, but it's great director Ridley Scott's (Gladiator, Alien to name just a few) take on the well known biblical tale.
Christian Bale stars as Moses, Hebrew Born but raised as an equal to Ramses (Joel Edgerton).
When Moses's roots are betrayed, he is banished to the desert, embraces his heritage and returns to the great Egyptian city to free his people.
Bale is excellent as Moses, intense, questioning, committed. He's a superb actor and a great foe for Edgerton (Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty) who oozes entitlement and rage as the new Pharoah doomed to watch his city and life be destroyed by God's wrath.
The plagues are spectacular and the Passover is powerfully done, but Ridley holds the biggest punch for the parting of the Red Sea.
Where DeMille's 1950's version was well done but cartoony animation, this modern day take on the Sea parting before the path of the 400,000 is realistic, dramatic and visually stunning.
At the end of the day, it's a dead serious take on one of Christianity's most popular Bible stories that knows its audience and delivers.
But I have to say I did miss an occasional flash of humor, joy or emotion beyond desperation and rage. DeMille's exodus was 30 minutes of thousands of people celebrating and overwhelmed with happiness to be freed from 400 years as slaves.
In Scott's take, they parade out of the city as a solemn mass, quickly doubting Moses's directions and seemingly forgetting some of those pretty spectacular plagues delivered by Team Moses. I would think those events would stick with you a little longer.
They are a tough audience for sure.
In the canon of Scott's film legacy, EXODUS hits a middle ground. It's not one of his greatest, but it defines spectacle and delivers on the big moments you expect. Bale and Edgerton are powerful antagonists and the special effects team is working overtime from opening scene to last.
EXODUS is a great tale told well. Stone faced, but well told. We'll give it a B.