Moses and the Pharaoh have swords in new Exodus posters

The first posters for Exodus: Gods and Kings are here — and for a film that is supposedly going to be promoted as the next big battle epic from the director of Gladiator, it’s striking to see how sombre and lacking in action these first promotional images are.

They’re also strangely colourless. As you can see from the main poster to the right — which shows Christian Bale as Moses and Joel Edgerton as Ramses kind of glaring at each other while they touch their swords — the images are essentially black-and-white, except for gold-tinted highlights and just a hint of blue.

I also can’t recall ever seeing a Moses movie that made a pyramid as central to its imagery as this poster does. It gives the poster an Illuminati-esque feel, and I’m afraid the first thing it brings to mind is the fact that Exodus director Ridley Scott is attached to an HBO series which will play on the idea that the ancient Egyptian civilization was built in part with help from aliens.

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Another TV show on the “lost years” of Jesus in the works

All three of this year’s Bible movies have a Gladiator connection. Exodus: Gods and Kings has that film’s director, Ridley Scott. Noah has that film’s star, Russell Crowe, and one of its screenwriters, John Logan. And Son of God — or, rather, its predecessor mini-series The Bible — marked the first time that composer Hans Zimmer and vocalist Lisa Gerrard had worked together since that film.

Now one of Gladiator’s other screenwriters is dipping his toe in the biblical waters, albeit for the small screen. Deadline and The Hollywood Reporter say David Franzoni is developing a mini-series for Fox called Nazareth, which will look at “the formative years of Jesus of Nazareth.” (One cannot help but be reminded of similar early-years series named after the protagonists’ hometowns like Smallville and Gotham.)

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Ethnic diversity, or the lack thereof, in the new Bible movies

One of the issues that some people have had with Darren Aronofsky’s Noah — it was never a big-enough deal to become a full-fledged controversy, per se — concerns the ethnicity of the actors.

The film depicts the annihilation of the entire human race, except for one family that will go on to produce the entire human race as we know it today — so it seems a little odd to some people that pretty much every character we see in this film fits into a single ethnic category, i.e. Caucasian.

It seems even more odd when one considers that the human race originally had dark skin and then evolved lighter skin as some population groups “migrated away from the tropics . . . into areas of low UV radiation” and “developed light skin pigmentation as an evolutionary selection acting against vitamin D depletion.”

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Will there be two Bible epics on the big screen in 2014?

Ridley Scott’s Moses movie may be further along than we thought. Box Office Mojo posted a few new release dates to its schedule yesterday, and one of them was for Exodus, the Bible epic that Scott has been developing with 20th Century Fox for the past year or two. If the site is to be believed, Exodus will be coming to a theatre near you on December 12, 2014 — or about a year and a half from now. And that would make it one of two Bible epics hitting the big screen next year, the other being Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, which comes out March 28. Interestingly, that film stars Russell Crowe, who has appeared in four of Scott’s last five films and sort of owes his stardom to an even earlier Scott-directed sword-and-sandals flick, Gladiator (2000) — so who knows, if Scott calls on Crowe’s services again, Crowe could end up finding himself in both of next year’s Bible epics. (Hat tip to The Playlist.)

Review: The Da Vinci Code (dir. Ron Howard, 2006)

My initial reaction to the film version of The Da Vinci Code was almost one of relief. The film was a dud, a complete bore, and most critics, secular and otherwise, seemed to think so, too. Perhaps, I thought, this movie would bring the whole phenomenon to an untimely end.

But in the days since, I have come to think that the film, in some ways, constitutes an even worse offence against the Church than the Dan Brown novel on which it was based.

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Interviews: Joaquin Phoenix, Reese Witherspoon, Waylon Payne, James Mangold (Walk the Line, 2005)

He sang gospel songs, but he also wrote darker tunes like the one in which he assumed the persona of someone who shot a man “just to watch him die.” He was a country star who found his greatest success after he teamed up with a producer of rap albums. He produced a haunting music video shortly before his death at 70 that offered a stark, unflinching look at human mortality, yet he had — and continues to have — many fans many years his junior.

Johnny Cash was a man of contradictions, and Joaquin Phoenix — who plays the Man in Black in Walk the Line, a film developed with Johnny Cash and his wife June Carter Cash prior to their deaths in 2003, and overseen since then by their son John — had a chance to see those contradictions up close, when he accepted a dinner invitation from the Cash family.

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