Epic ‘Exodus’ casts Christian Bale’s Moses as reluctant leader

Epic ‘Exodus’ casts Christian Bale’s Moses as reluctant leader

NEW YORK - With massive battle scenes, biblical plagues and a towering tidal wave, British director Ridley Scott's "Exodus: Gods and Kings" is an epic historical drama and retelling of the story of Moses as a reluctant prophet.

Shot in 3D with striking visual effects, 20th Century Fox's "Exodus" is the latest biblical-theme film to be released in 2014, dubbed the "year of the Bible." It follows the success of Paramount Pictures' "Noah," which grossed more than $360 million (S$473 million) worldwide, and 20th Century Fox's "Son of God," which took in $68 million worldwide.

Scott's big-budget epic, which opens in US theatres on Friday, is projected by BoxOffice.com to earn $32 million in its opening weekend.

Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale plays Moses, a former Egyptian prince who rose up against the Pharaoh Ramses and initially was unsure about his role as a prophet. "When he first meets with God, he says 'No. This is not me. I don't want to do this job,'" Bale told Reuters.

The 40-year-old actor is renowned for his physical transformation in a variety of roles - from the emaciated insomniac in "The Machinist," a sinewy former boxer in "The Fighter," which won him an Oscar, to a pudgy con man with a comb-over in "American Hustle."

As Moses, Bale delves into the emotional core of the man who led 600,000 slaves out of Egypt. "He was a man of great passion, a great leader and a liberator, but he was somebody who also had incredible doubts and insecurities," Bale explained.

"I think that makes it so much more fascinating than I had ever realised. And also, in doing that, we are telling it in a new way."

Scott, 77, who has scored best director Oscar nominations for "Gladiator," "Black Hawk Down" and "Thelma & Louise," shot"Exodus" in Spain, the Canary Islands and Pinewood Studios in England in 74 days, a tight schedule Bale said he found exhilarating.

"For me it feels like I'm most productive, most creative when there is a momentum to the way you shoot. Otherwise, you get lethargic," Bale said. "And he (Scott) can do that in a way that is more akin to the soul of an independent film, even though this is a vast, big studio film."

Trade magazine Variety praised "Exodus" as "a genuinely imposing spectacle," while The Hollywood Reporter found faults with the beginning and end, while describing the middle as "a rousing good show."

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