In 2013 we had Gravity, the ‘realistic’ sci-fi thriller; next we had Interstellar, the ‘realistic’ sci-fi fantasy; and now we arrive in 2015 with the Martian: the feel-good space romp. Based on the bestseller by And Weir, most people have glimpsed the premise either through a Waterstones window or over a fellow commuter on the war to work: astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is Crusoefied on the red dot in space, and must survive on this desolate planet until supplies, or rescue, can save his skin. But even with such high stakes (and the director who turned space into a hive of chest-bursters on board as well) this film keeps a smile on its face.
What is most striking about, and undoubtedly the first thing you’ll notice when watching, Exodus: Gods and Kings, the latest film from Ridley Scott, is that it is big. In fact, it is perhaps Scott’s biggest film to date, and for a director who made the lavish epics Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven, that’s really saying something. Enormous physical sets coincide with hundreds upon hundreds of extras to create the kind of old-school scale that cinema has only very rarely seen since the early ‘60s. Fittingly, much like the grand epics of Golden Age Hollywood, Exodus is a desert story, retelling the immediately familiar tale of Moses (Christian Bale) leading the Jews out of Egypt. The sheer scope of the film is almost overwhelming, but through well-marshalled action sequences, incredible effects, and a knowing sense of campiness, Scott manages to avoid any boredom, which one may justifiably associate with a two and a half hour Old Testament adaptation. (more…)