One of my favorite things ever is Jesus Bale, or what happens when Christian Bale gets particularly hirsute. How can you not love this? It cracks me up every time. So I’m really excited to see in the new Exodus: Gods & Guyliner trailer that Jesus Bale is making a comeback, and yes, I did little happy claps to see him once again. But I quickly put aside my delight and got surprisingly absorbed because damn—this is a good trailer.
Ridley Scott courted controversy when he cast predominately white actors in the principal roles, and there are moments of real discomfort when you notice how thick the spray-tan is applied to make Joel Edgerton look Egyptian. There’s no getting away from the race-bending and how gross it is to still be doing this in 2014, when there are actual Egyptian/Israeli actors who could be playing these roles. But there’s also no dismissing this movie, either. Exodus is Fox’s big holiday-season release, and they’ve used their three-minute trailer exception (trailers are supposed to be kept to 2:30, but for one exception a year per studio) to show us the scope and scale of their movie.
And it is BIG. And, frankly, looks really good. There are strong Gladiator vibes, but the dynamic between Bale and Edgerton is coming across great—I love the part where Moses yells at Ramses and hits his sword. It feels, amidst all the grandeur and blatantly expensive backdrops, intimate and personal. If you don’t have that kind of relationship anchoring your story, movies like this quickly become bloated and overdone, a problem that hamstrung the similarly large-scale Noah earlier this year.
Despite its stupid title, Exodus—seriously, why did they give it that dumbass subtitle?—looks like a monster hit in the making. Action, great acting, Ridley Scott’s eye for spectacle, and releasing a Bible adaptation during the Christmas season is not an accident; Fox is poised to crush it come December. But no matter what happens, if Exodus kills at the box office and maybe goes on to acquire an Oscar polish (could be a contender in the artistic/technical categories, at least), it’ll go down with an asterisk. Or rather, it’ll go down covered in greasy streaks of spray-tan.