Lumbering and garish, Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings amps up the eye shadow and tones down the subtly to super-size the story of Moses and his efforts to liberate the Hebrew people from more than 400 years of slavery. Countless bird's-eye shots (most of them CGI) create an epic sense of time and place, confirming that this is indeed an important picture and one with an equally hefty budget to spare on images of sweeping scale. These plastic pictures may provide one with enough depth to fill a few wide screens, but the same can't be said of the performances.
Christian Bale plays the exiled Egyptian general with an earnest desire to rediscover the character's internal torment caused by his religious rebirth. In typical Bale fashion, his acting method is the madness; from the beginning, Moses suffers from an identity crisis. After trading verbal barbs with his longtime friend Rhamses (Joel Edgerton), son of the Pharaoh Seti (John Turturro) and next in line to lead the Egyptian people, Moses sets in for a few decades of brooding brought upon by an ideological awakening and insurrection.
Rebellion, plague, locusts, rivers of blood and frenzied alligators, fire, brimstone and a few other disasters follow in succession, a series of events brought on by the wrath of a child God who inspires Moses to free the Hebrew slaves.
While Exodus: Gods and Kings, which opens Friday, Dec. 12, sluggishly contemplates moral and religious matters of faith on both sides of the Nile, Scott throws in a few action scenes to make sure the proper marketing demographics have been satisfied. Once the Red Sea finally comes crashing down during the hollow showdown between Rhamses and Moses, the only thing it doesn't wash away is the massive headache brought on by Scott's biblically mishandled theatrics.
Antarctica: A Year on the Ice: The incredible true story of the scientists, researchers, chefs, technicians and other professionals who make up the population of people who live year-round in Antarctica. Screens through Dec. 18 at the Ken Cinema.
Exodus: Gods and Kings: The story of Moses (Christian Bale), Rhamses (Joel Edgerton) and the Ten Commandments gets super-sized.
I Am Eleven: Filmmaker Genevieve Bailey spoke with 11-year-olds from around the world to construct this insightful and funny documentary portrait of childhood. Screens through Dec. 17 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Palo Malo: When a 9-year-old asks his mother to have his curly hair straightened for a yearbook picture, the request causes a rift between the two that becomes difficult to fix. Screens through Dec. 18 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
Top 5: Set to marry a reality star and have their wedding taped for public consumption, a popular comedian (Chris Rock) returns home to his old neighborhood, hoping to gain some clarity.
Wild: Based on the best-selling novel, this drama tells the story of Cheryl Strayed, who trekked more than 1,000 miles along the Pacific Crest Trail to reassess her troubled life.
One time only
Days and Clouds: A sophisticated Italian couple face adversity when the breadwinner loses his job. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the La Jolla Community Center.
What If: A young man (Daniel Radcliffe) burnt out from a string of bad relationships meets a charming new girl and has his faith in love restored. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at the Mission Valley Library.
Mona Lisa is Missing: The life of Vincenzo Peruggia, the man who stole the "Mona Lisa" from the Louvre in 1911, is the subject of this award-winning documentary presented by the San Diego Italian Film Festival. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas.
Elf: Ever want to see Will Ferrell run around like a child while wearing tights? This is your chance. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 10, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
Soul of the Banquet: Director Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club) explores the life and cuisine of Cecilia Chiang, the woman who introduced America to authentic Chinese food. Screens at 5:30 and 7:15 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, at Ultrastar Mission Valley Cinemas.
Guardians of the Galaxy: A ragtag group of criminal misfits tries to save the galaxy from a world-destroying force. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, through Saturday, Dec. 13, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Lethal Weapon: Two cops (Mel Gibson and Danny Glover) used to working alone are partnered together to investigate a drug-smuggling ring. Screens at 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Room: Come witness the worst film ever made with a rowdy crowd who'll appreciate all the awfulness. Screens at midnight on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the Ken Cinema.
The Hundred-Foot Journey: Helen Mirren's stuffy restaurateur must get used to a new Indian eatery that opens across her street in Paris. Screens at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
White Christmas: Join Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as they serenade you with classic carols and try to save a failing Vermont inn. Screens at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, and 7 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at various theaters. Check fathomevents.com for details.
The Santa Clause: Tim Allen gets suckered into being Santa after he signs a document handing him the job. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 14, at Arclight La Jolla.
The Official Story: Set immediately after Argentina's Dirty War, a young teacher sets out to find the mother of her adopted daughter. Screens at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 15, at the Central Library in East Village.
Wish I Was Here: Zach Braff plays an unfulfilled father who goes through a midlife crisis when his own dad becomes deathly ill. Screens at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Point Loma / Hervey Branch Library.
Mataharis: A private detective infiltrates a multinational corporation to investigate a web of corruption. Screens at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park.
A Christmas Story: Don't lick the frozen pole. Just don't. Screens at 7:35 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, at Arclight La Jolla and 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Closet: To avoid being fired, a man spreads a rumor of his own homosexuality. Starring Daniel Auteuil and Gérard Depardieu. Screens at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at the La Jolla Community Center.
2 Autumns, 3 Winters: Happenstance and fate collide when a man and a woman literally run into each other on a jogging path in Paris. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at the Scripps Ranch Library.
Tootsie: Dustin Hoffman in drag? Who could ask for more. Screens at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 17, at Hillcrest Cinemas.
Balboa Park: The Jewel of San Diego: An engaging time capsule, this 30-minute documentary takes viewers through the long and fascinating history of the local landmark. Through Dec. 31 at the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.
Diplomacy: On the eve of Germany's planned destruction of Paris in the face of Allied advancements, a Swedish consul attempts to sway the Nazi general in charge against bombing the city. Ends Dec. 11 at the Ken Cinema.
The Dark Valley: This Austrian-German western tells the story of a stranger who arrives in a mountain village to take revenge. Screens through Dec. 11 at Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
The Homesman: A lonely farmer (Hilary Swank) living in the old west agrees to transport three women who've gone insane across state lines with the help of an ornery old louse (Tommy Lee Jones).
Horrible Bosses 2: Jason Bateman, Jason Sudeikis and Charlie Day get another chance to turn the tables on their self-serving bosses and exact revenge.
Penguins of Madagascar: A trio of goofy penguins must join forces with a secret underground organization to defeat a villain trying to destroy the world.
Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller's dark sports film tells the tragic true story of the Schultz brothers (Mark Ruffalo and Channing Tatum), wrestlers who became forever entwined with the wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune (Steve Carell).
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1: Having just destroyed the Hunger Games infrastructure, Katnis returns home to lead the rebellion against the corrupt forces of the capital.
Beyond the Lights: On the brink of superstardom, a talented young musician struggles with the pressure of the public limelight.
Dumb and Dumber To: In this sequel to the 1994 hit comedy, walking morons Lloyd (Jim Carrey) and Harry (Jeff Daniels) return to the big screen to grace us with their idiocy.
Rosewater: Gael Garcia Bernal stars as a journalist who becomes imprisoned after filming the aftermath of the 2009 elections in Iran. It's directed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show. Ends Dec. 11 at Hillcrest Cinemas.
The Theory of Everything: Stephen Hawking (Eddie Redmayne) is diagnosed with motor-neuron disease just as he's graduating with a doctorate degree in physics from Cambridge and starting a new life with his wife (Felicity Jones).
Awake: The Life of Yogananda: This documentary covers the life and influence of the famous spiritualist who brought Hindi practices to the west in the 1920s.
Big Hero 6: An inflatable robot develops a bond with a prodigy named Hiro, and the two become high-tech heroes.
Force Majeure: While on vacation in the French Alps, a Swedish family experiences a traumatic event that reveals the deep-seated emotions and frustrations that have long simmered under the surface. Ends Dec. 11 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Interstellar: Christopher Nolan's new science-fiction epic follows a group of explorers who make use of a newly discovered wormhole to find a new home for humanity.
Citizenfour: Laura Poitras' documentary about NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden explores the abuses of national security in post-9/11 America. Ends Dec. 11 at La Jolla Village Cinemas.
Nightcrawler: This scathing and unsettling portrait of modern news television stars Jake Gyllenhaal as a vulture scouring the Los Angeles streets for gory events.
Mysteries of Egypt: Traverse the glorious history and legacy of the ancient Egyptians in this IMAX adventure that takes you beyond the Pyramids and the Sphinx. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Birdman: A burnt-out superhero actor (Michael Keaton) tries to mount a play on Broadway in order to prove his worth. It co-stars Naomi Watts, Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough.
John Wick: After his dog is killed during a random break-in, a former hit man (Keanu Reeves) goes on the warpath looking for vengeance.
St. Vincent: A misanthropic senior citizen (Bill Murray) befriends a young boy going through familial trouble, inevitably leading to redemption for all involved.
Fury: A surly tank commander (Brad Pitt) and his small crew fend off Nazis during the waning days of World War II.
The Book of Life: This animated fantasy follows a young man who's torn between fulfilling his family duties and following his heart. It features the voices of Diego Luna, Zoe Saldana and Channing Tatum.
Whiplash: A sadistic music teacher tortures a young drummer at a posh New York City conservatory.
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day: A boy lives through a calamitous day, and the bad luck spreads to his other family members.
The Judge: Hank Palmer (Robert Downey Jr.) returns to his childhood home to defend his embittered father (Robert Duvall), the town's judge, who's been accused of murder.
Gone Girl: David Fincher adapts Gillian Flynn's bestselling novel with Ben Affleck in the lead as the suspicious husband whose beautiful wife (Rosamund Pike) suddenly goes missing.
Hidden Universe: Blast off into the stratosphere with this documentary that uses real images captured from telescopes to examine the vast reaches of space. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
Journey to the South Pacific: Let the glorious scale of IMAX take you to the tropical islands of West Papua, where life under the sea is just as lush and vibrant as it is on shore. Screens at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show: The camp classic continues its ongoing run, Fridays at midnight at La Paloma Theatre in Encinitas.