Ridley Scott‘s Exodus: Gods and Kings opened domestically on 12.12 with around $24 million and is projected to hit…I’m not sure. But I know Box Office Mojo has it ranked fifth behind the weekend’s top four attractions — The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, Annie and The Hunger games: Mockingjay, Part 1. (Can it be safely assumed that if a movie title has a colon in it, that it probably blows to some extent?) It also appears as if Exodus has done better overseas than domestically with the total foreign county at $45 million or thereabouts. One thing that’s apparently happened in this country is that yahoo Christians, smelling a non-religious approach, haven’t come out in droves. Scott’s instincts told him to stay way from a reverent approach and make some kind of anti-Cecil B. DeMille, non-believing version of Moses’ tale. That was probably a mistake all around. Now that Exodus is officially a domestic under-performer and can probably be called an all-around failure, do we have any final assessments as to what went wrong?
From my 12.8.14 review: “Exodus: Gods and Kings is second-tier Scott at best. It might even be third-tier. It didn’t feel like anything more than a soulless, scene-to-scene, grab-baggy CG demonstration film. Scott basically threw money at his problems, and money wasn’t enough. Exodus is basically about (a) Scott wanting to avoid the shadow of Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 version at all costs, which means staying well clear of the Christian Biblical material at all costs, and (b) throwing massive gobs of CGI at each and every visual composition in this film, but having no clear emotionality or thematic undercurrent. I sympathize with Scott wanting to avoid the Old Testament mythology and wanting to spin a counter-myth, but the story is the story — there’s nothing to hold onto without the Bible bullshit.
“The Exodus performances, which are also about avoiding the color and tone of the 1956 performances, are nothing special. And no Exodus performance approaches the studly venality of Yul Brynner‘s Ramses, a performance that still has bite and snap. The plague scenes are wildly over-the-top. The climactic Red Sea effects are cool, but it’s utterly ridiculous to have Moses and Ramses do a mano e mano face-off in the damp bed of the Red Sea as the killer wave is about to engulf them…absurd. I never thought I’d say this, but as cornball and creaky and in some ways loathsome as the DeMille version is, it at least understands itself and knows what it’s about and has that hokey Victorian DeMille aesthetic. It’s not as accomplished or textured as Scott’s film, but at least it delivers something spiritually palpable. Scott’s film only delivers VFX.”