Watch: Egyptologists promote Exodus: Gods and Kings, plus new footage in ABC’s Nightline report about the movie

exodus-facebook-141202-vidWith all the grumbling these days about the biblical and historical accuracy of Exodus: Gods and Kings, it makes sense that the studio would release a new featurette in which Egyptologists discuss the historical basis for the film.

The Egyptologists in question — William Schniedewind, Lynn Swartz Dodd and Kara Cooney — don’t address any of the current controversies, though, nor do they stir up any new ones. Instead, they speak in broad strokes about the reign of Ramses, Egyptian empire-building, and the role of slaves in Egyptian society.

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Ben-Hur finds its leading lady, starts casting extras

nazaninboniadiThe new version of Ben-Hur has found its Esther.

Deadline reports that the part, which was going to be played by Gal Gadot until her Wonder Woman commitments got in the way, will now be played by Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-British actress who currently co-stars on the TV series Homeland.

Deadline reports that other actresses who were up for the part included: Sofia Boutella, who is Algerian; Moran Atias, who is Israeli; and Natalia Warner, about whose background I currently know nothing.

Boniadi made the news a few years ago when Vanity Fair reported that she briefly dated Tom Cruise between November 2004 and January 2005, after the Church of Scientology conducted some sort of “wife-auditioning process” for him. She no longer belongs to the Church.

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A brief comment on the Exodus: Gods and Kings casting controversy

exodus-yahoo-3Three months ago, Ridley Scott noted that the actors he hired for Exodus: Gods and Kings represent a range of different ethnicities, and hardly anyone noticed. Last week, he made an off-the-cuff remark about how he couldn’t cast some obscure Middle Eastern actor as the lead in a massively expensive movie such as this, and the internet went berserk.

Scott’s comment was quickly assumed by many people to mean that he was justifying hiring an “all-white” cast. Many people claimed, dubiously, that it would be more historically accurate if the villainous Egyptian slave masters, many of whom are killed by an act of God at the Red Sea, were played by black actors instead. (Just think what sort of controversies there would be if the film had gone that route.)

The Week’s Jonathan Merritt even went so far as to say today that no Bible movie — not even The Nativity Story, which cast a Maori girl as the Virgin Mary, a Palestinian as her mother and Iranians as her father and her cousin Elizabeth — has made any progress when it comes to “sensitivity to ethnicity”. Apparently the fact that Keisha Castle-Hughes was born in Australia disqualifies that film somehow. Seriously?

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Watch: Moses before and after his religious conversion in two new clips from Exodus: Gods and Kings

exodus-stable“From an economic standpoint alone, what you’re asking is problematic, to say the least.” That one line of dialogue has probably been quoted in more early reviews of Exodus: Gods and Kings than any other — and now you can hear it for yourself, in one of two new clips from the film that were posted to YouTube today.

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Locusts attack in a new Exodus: Gods and Kings clip

exodus-plagueThe early reviews haven’t been all that good, but with Exodus: Gods and Kings due to premiere in a couple days, the release of clips and other promotional videos carries on. Today’s installment: a clip of one of the insect plagues, and a handful of new TV spots, plus a few photos. Check them all out below the jump.

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Exodus: Gods and Kings: early reviews are a mixed bunch

exodus-ramses-09With the film set to open in South Korea, Spain, Australia and a few other countries this week, the first reviews of Exodus: Gods and Kings went online today — and they’re a mixed bag, as reviews of Ridley Scott films are wont to be.

One of the recurring themes in these reviews is that the film offers a lot of spectacle but not as much character development as it should — which leads one to wonder if an even longer, better “director’s cut” awaits us, à la Kingdom of Heaven.

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