Whenever a religious movie is made, especially based on the bible, and especially on the Old Testament, believers face a dilemma. They want to go to support it, but at the same time, we’ve been cultured, and rightly so in most cases, to think of a movie as fictitious and a form of escapism. Even with biographies and historical movies, we know that there are actors, and that the movie doesn’t always follow all the facts. So when Hollywood takes a story from the bible and adds their special effects, they often portray it, wittingly or not, as more akin to The Hobbit than Lincoln. In fact, these depictions, especially coming from a mostly anti-religious Hollywood, may do more to shake the faith of believers than build it. Sometimes they even come across as patronizing, as in, “We’ll make this movie for you, even as we show you how unrealistic this bible fable is.”
When telling the story of something that happened at least 3500 years ago, based on a few pages from one of the books of the bible, you just don’t have the details to know exactly what happened. This movie attempts to differentiate itself from ‘The Ten Commandments’ and ‘The Prince of Egypt’ by making the plagues and crossing of the Red Sea more scientifically based. And for all we know, it did happen in that way. But like I mentioned earlier, it doesn’t attempt to build up the faith of those watching, as it portrays Moses as possibly delusional and snarky toward God, who is portrayed as a little boy (supposedly for innocence and purity, but he doesn’t come off that way. Instead, God comes off as a mean little bully, motivated more by revenge than love, a point that exacerbates instead of reconciles the apparent conflict between the Old Testament God of wrath and the New Testament God of love). Also, Christian Bale, despite supposedly having studied up on historical Moses, misses some important clues from the book of Exodus, namely that Moses needed his brother Aaron as a spokesman because he felt he couldn’t speak up himself.
So for a believer, there are some major issues, just like in the movie Noah, although maybe not so overt or hard to overcome. As for the movie quality itself, the effects are good, they do try to make Moses human and to grow through the movie (although maybe a little overdone on that part, as Hollywood apparently can’t stand anyone who isn’t as cynical as itself), and it doesn’t feel too long, although there are parts that drag. It was also devoid of humor and Moses wasn’t all that likable. It was, for me, an average movie that won’t overtake its predecessors, especially Ten Commandments, and will be forgotten faster than Noah, which, if nothing else, managed to stir up controversy as a marketing tool. This movie’s subversion of religion is too subtle and played a bit too safely for a Hollywood success, while straying too far from the established Ten Commandments pattern to make it a religious success.
All in all, I give it a “Meh.”