Ridley Scott is no stranger to period epics, but Gladiator aside, he hasn’t had the best of luck with them at the box office. 1492: Conquest of Paradise disappeared from theaters faster than the Native Americans did from Columbus’ conscience, and Robin Hood resulted in people wishing they were watching the Kevin Costner version. (Okay, maybe that was just me.) His 2005 religious-themed epic meanwhile, Kingdom of Heaven, failed to appeal to audiences and only banked less than $50 million domestic (on a $130m budget).
But Scott’s nothing if not persistent — hence his penchant for director’s cuts — and he’s ready to try his hand at another biblical epic combining faith in a god with slow-motion death from horseback. And he found two perfect Middle Eastern actors to head up his cast.
Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of the tiff between Moses (Christian Bale) and Ramses (Joel Edgerton) that resulted in the former orchestrating a mass exit of god-fearing slaves out of Egypt and the latter being inundated with messy plagues.
Check out the first trailer for Exodus: Gods and Kings below.
It looks pretty much as you’d expect right? Bale and Edgerton facing off while surrounded by lots and lots of CGI.
That’s not a knock as even Gladiator was loaded with effects that served to enhance the scope and atmosphere of multiple scenes, but the trick — as it always is with large scale epics — will be grounding the story with strong drama and compelling characters. A teaser is no place to determine if that’s the case, which is good as this teaser doesn’t quite manage it. Regardless, it should be fun watching a stoic and constantly-just-this-side-of angry Bale go head to head with Edgerton as his arrogant and orange nemesis.
It will be curious to see how Christian audiences take to the film as I can already see them complaining about the use of a plural “gods” in the title even though it’s more a sign of those times than an intentional slight. Darren Aronofsky’s Noah upset the faithful earlier this year in its effort to tell an Old Testament story with little to no mention of “God,” but it’s too soon to tell if Scott learned from that decision. (But it may not be too late to go back and digitally add in Colton Burpo to several scenes!)
The official synopsis:
From acclaimed director Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Prometheus) comes the epic adventure “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” the story of one man’s daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses (Christian Bale) as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses (Joel Edgerton), setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.“
Exodus: Gods and Kings parts the Red Sea on December 12, 2014.