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Screenwriting : Exodus: gods and failings - where has the "spectacle" gone? by Chanel Ashley

Chanel Ashley

Exodus: gods and failings - where has the "spectacle" gone?

Just saw Exodus, very disappointing, we couldn't even get a parting-of-the-Red-Sea, instead we got a tsunami - with today's technology it wasn't an inspiring "burning bush" - and the "Voice" of God? Well, you'll know what I mean if you see this average movie and not exactly a "loving" God when you hear what comes out of His mouth, you really wouldn't want to upset, Him - several areas were a disappointment, the lack of spectacle, the lack of "star" power, average script, pedestrian story - how can they get away with this considering the talent at their disposal - Spectacle, remember Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea? The chariot race in Ben Hur? The mother ship in Encounters of the Third Kind? The destruction of iconic buildings in Independence Day? James Cameron's Titanic when it began to sink? - this Exodus is devoid of such - while Christian Bale was okay as Moses, my fellow Australian Joel Edgerton wasn't up to it as Ramses - remember the screen power of Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner , especially when they were on the screen together - they really don't make them like they used, to, but why not? - the writing was disappointing, so many holes in the story and so many missed opportunities at foreshadowing, like the two soldiers sent to assassinate Moses came out of nowhere, though explained later, very poor writing - Moses is an old man when the film ends, it doesn't explain why, but unless you know the tale, you wouldn't have thought it would take "that" long to make it to the Promise Land - I don't think this will have good word-of-mouth and Hollywood disappoints once more - as always, it's only an opinion, somebody will love it.

Owen Mowatt

Yes but was Moses a robot? That`s what I wanna know. ;)

Jason Dennis

I am in the core audience for historical scripts and I don't think you need spectacle in a period piece, because I don't think the audience going to it necessarily expects it. Then again, the particular topic does have an expectation for spectacle. Maybe the preview does too, maybe the producer thought it needed spectacle and the director disagreed with it. On regular TV, I was disappointed by the preview because it looked like "the same thing but worse" from Ridley Scott and Christian Bale. It looked like it would be low brow and even more preachy than Scott and Bale's past work. It was like they were marketing "cliche of a stuffy Ridley Scott movie that would star the jerk Christian Bale." Now, on an HD TV, that wave did look pretty sweet. I am not surprised by your disappointment, though I am a little surprised in the way you were disappointed.

Chanel Ashley

Owen, about as robotic as Liverpool at the moment.

Chanel Ashley

Jason, we agree on most points, and in a movie such as this I think "spectacle" is a given - I also enjoy my period pieces, early Robin Hood films and such were devoid of spectacle, but were fun and a joy to watch, think Errol Flynn - whatever Ridley Scott had, I think he may be past it, always trying to out-do himself and failing - at least this was a touch better than Noah - Christian Bale is not one of my favourites, but he did okay here - my biggest disappointment was script/story - in every capacity The Ten Commandments was big, this pales in every department and doesn't compare in the story department re setup, drama, dramatic tension nor entertainment value - the Charlton Heston film unfolded, this labours - perhaps the use of four writers explains the weakness in this area - yeah, cool wave, but I've seen better, would like to know how Moses and Ramses survived that deluge, though, considering they were so far from shore, but then, this is the movies, right?

Chanel Ashley

Swords and sandals in Egypt, Lisa, how can one go wrong - love my Biblical epics, though Exodus and Noah were below par - look forward to Birdman, not released here, yet.

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

oh, come on with the spoiling movie reviews... this isn't the place for that...

Owen Mowatt

It`s the story of Moses, not Moses vs Godzilla, JPC

K Kalyanaraman

It goes to show that technology and gizmos aren't everything. It is the way to tell a story like Cecil B. DeMille, William Wyler or David Lean did, that stays back, long after The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur and Lawrence of Arabia were made.

Ardua de Potomac

Just seeing the trailer was enough for me. Christian Bale acting like a mafia hit man threatening to whack Ramses? First, bad-ass Russell Crowe as Noah, and now this?!

Chanel Ashley

Jean-Pierre, you can relax, I've given no secrets away that would spoil your enjoyment of this film - besides, you chose to read it.

Chanel Ashley

Sorry, Owen, it is about Moses vs Godzilla, this is after all a Ridley Scott movie, that is always his intention.

Chanel Ashley

K Kalyanaraman, you're right on the money, beautifully said - it's story and how it's told, those three directors were outstanding, their films still resonate and not forgotten.

Richard Allis

Everything, or at least too many things, seem to be more about cool things you can do with computer graphics than storytelling. Something that would look impressive on an IMAX screen. Especially in summer movies. I do not go to too many movies anymore because of this, but I am hopeful for "Selma" to tell a good story. But if you don't like what's being put out right now, write something that you would like to see on screen. That's what George Lucas did with Star Wars. That's what I'm trying to do with what I write. Granted, selling those kinds of scripts is another story. . . .

Jean-Pierre Chapoteau

You said he didn't part the red sea and there was no burning bush. I mean... I guess that doesn't really spoil anything since it's not there but it's still telling me about the movie, which is on a screenwriting forum so of course I'll start to read it. It doesn't belong here.

Ardua de Potomac

Maybe people could just put {SPOILER ALERT} if they are going to discuss key elements from a new release....

Chanel Ashley

I must apologise, Ardua, I presumed the reader would have worked that out for themselves just from the heading without the need of SPOILER ALERT, apparently not - tell, me, Ardua, from the minute reveals on my part, which did you find disturbing? - the WAVE is already shown in trailers, one would expect to see a BURNING BUSH, I just thought it was a lame effort - you would expect Moses to CONVERSE with God, I did not reveal the vehicle/method used - I gave the film a critique no worse or better than a media critic re information - but I should not presume so much, next time I will provide SPOILER ALERT.

James Chalker

Spoiler alert? It's not like it's a particularly new story. Let me try: The Passion of the Christ...SPOILER ALERT...they nail him to a cross.

Chanel Ashley

You nailed it, James, lol.

Ardua de Potomac

Whoa, Chanel, I was just offering a friendly suggestion! I had no problem with your posting at all. I just thought putting "spoiler alert" when discussing new releases would be a simple way to avoid distressing people like Jean-Pierre. Good grief. Clearly not everybody has the same parameters for what they think constitutes a spoiler--I was just offering a friendly suggestion to avoid "disturbing" people who have different parameters than you do. You can argue all day with what the parameters should be--I was trying to offer a way to avoid getting criticism for discussing new releases. You're welcome!

Chanel Ashley

I must apologise, Ardua, it appears I gave the wrong impression - I wasn't being sarcastic, just a little facetious, which is mild mocking/teasing in jest - you are absolutely correct re parameters on what constitutes SPOILER ALERT, not everyone has the same - I don't know if it's the syntax or the fact we have a different sense of humour in the land of Oz, but it is often taken the wrong way, cheers.

Ardua de Potomac

That's cool! I usually love Aussie humor, but always hard to get tone across in an Internet posting.

Michael L. Burris

None of it matters if gross sales are good but that is big budget Hollywood which some may or may not aspire for. Big Budget changes everything. Perhaps a scene's visual artistry costs more than some entire movies. It sucks and writers feel more and more neglect to quality of story when movies go for the visual feast. Artistry in Hollywood is not lost, it's just more transformative. The craft of a good story however is sometimes foregone. There are still good movies with good stories and always will be. That's the way I see it and I could be wrong. I hope I didn't quote anybody and not mention, weird deja vu' thing but anyway. Peace out. Michael L. Burris "I beleive nothing is pointless."

Ardua de Potomac

Regarding spectacle, I heard Chelsea Clinton call it pageantry. I guess every culture craves a certain amount of public pageantry, and many modern people get it from movies and football games now, instead of civic parades or religious rituals. I think the reality is that big budgets for the big screen are going to be about pageantry now, and that the more human stories are being written for television.

Chanel Ashley

Thanks, Peter, appreciate your comments - I have a very dry sense of humour which does not seem to translate across the water - I seem to cause distress when no distress was intended - had this issue at Triggerstreet so will accept some responsibility re any misunderstanding - but geez, it's such a drag having to explain just about everything, it takes the fun out of it, lol.

Chanel Ashley

Peter, there may be merit in your assertion re the "politically-correct crowd" - I have issues here with the left, I tend to lean towards the right - interesting you mentioned Fox news, the left here despise the Murdoch press, which I prefer as opposed to the left leaning Fairfax press - as you said, they would rather close the station than simply change channels - I'm a great believer in accepting responsibility for one's actions - I CHOOSE to read/watch, or not read/watch an article - but on the other hand, I'm not here to offend anyone and accept that not everyone may warm to, appreciate or understand my dry sense of humour, hence the need to explain/qualify on occasions - you, and several others, appear not to suffer any "lost in translation" across the water - a wonderful Christmas with family and loved ones, everyone, a fresh, New Year awaits.

Chanel Ashley

But of course, Eric, you do "possess the capacity to perform the required math necessary" - changing a story for the sake of change, demonstrating how clever a new angle could be is a load of crap - was the story of Noah enhanced by demythologising the story, were we better served by the absence of God, replaced with visions, that so much of the latter story was Noah determined to kill his grandchild? I go to the cinema to be entertained and neither of the new vogue Noah or Exodus succeeded in that aspect - has it come to your attention that cinema audiences are down this year? I'm not remotely surprised, the quality of storytelling has diminished as a rule, the capacity to entertain has diminished, the cinema experience has dissipated for me, but that's only me - and the rest of the audience that has stopped going.

Chanel Ashley

Erik, I completely agree storytelling is alive and well on TV, can't comment re indie films, but mainstream cinema is losing their audience, the industry has got it wrong - the mythology of today are the superheroes and comic book characters - THEY have made the money that has kept Hollywood profits respectable, what would fill the void if they stopped making them? - my main complaint is the "new improved" version of films that in my mind don't cut it compared to the original - Superman with Christopher Reeve is far superior to the more recent effort, Planet of the Apes far superior with Charlton Heston, as was The Ten Commandments, does Tim Burton's version compare? - the new Spiderman films, are they superior to the Toby Maguire version? I think not - there are countless examples, but in the main and I've said it before, "they don't make movies like they used to".

Michael L. Burris

The evolving concepts of men and women shall always seek language and those concepts shall always remain supernatural. I mean that's only natural. What I think is really missing in movies today is eloquoence of dialog. How dare an audience think while being entertained though. LOL! Michael L. Burris "I believe nothing is pointless."

Chanel Ashley

Eric, we are on the same page, Deadwood was fantastic and extremely well written, loved that show.

Chanel Ashley

I get the impression you didn't like Dawn/Apes, Peter, LOL - I enjoyed it for what it was, but had hoped it would/could have been superior - I felt the work by Andy Serkis as Caesar was the highlight for me, he was superb - I wrote in another thread my thoughts on the movie, how it was a conspicuous template on how to write a Hollywood/studio movie - liked it better than Exodus, that is for certain.

Chanel Ashley

Is it plausible that cinema writing has suffered because so many good writers have moved to TV - some of the programs on HBO and other similar vehicles provide excellent material for viewing - Game of Thrones is my favourite, but have heard plenty about True Detective, House of Cards looks interesting as well - will keep an eye out for Mozart in the Jungle.

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