Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Exodus: Gods and Kings vs. Fury, two historical Oscar hopefuls focusing on a strong male protagonist during a time of conflict.
Premise Exodus: Gods and Kings is an epic loosely based on the Old Testament story of Moses and his trials leading the Jews out of Egypt. All the basics are there: burning bush, wrathful God, locusts, blood, etc. Add to that the hyped rivalry of Moses and Ramses, CGI crazed plague scenes, and lots of battlefield brawls and you’ve got yourself a plot of Biblical proportions.
Fury also focuses on an historic conflict: that of the Americans versus the Germans during World War Two. This film, written and directed by David Ayer, takes place in the last month of the war in 1945. Despite its dramatic setting, Fury tells a surprisingly human story about the horrors of war, the ties of brotherhood, and fear and loss. Following leading man Brad Pitt and his division of battle-worn comrades—a tank battalion trapped behind enemy lines—the film’s dramatic component becomes a mere framing device for the deeper psychological and human traumas of loss and bloodshed.Advantage: Fury
The LeadersChristian Bale’s Moses is theatrical yet contemplative, strong yet thoughtful. Unlike the white-bearded Moses we might picture, Bale’s Moses is a bow-wielding badass who doesn’t take any of Ramses’ shit. Tough and mysterious is Bale’s modus operandi at this point (The Dark Night, The Fighter, Out of the Furnance) and his Moses should revitalize a far too familiar story. Put simply, Bale’s Moses makes us want to go reread our Torah/Old Testament.
Fury‘s protagonist Wardaddy (played by Brad Pitt) is a battle-hardened, greased up US Army Staff Sargent who leads his surviving five men of the 2nd Armored Division against impossible odds on German soil. He is courageous, heroic, and treats his men with respect and kindness. Plus, he’s sexy as hell. That said, Pitt’s Wardaddy character seems strikingly similar to his satirical role in Inglorious Basterds, and it becomes impossible to separate the two characters, eclipsing Wardaddy’s potential glory.Advantage: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Plagues, Tanks, and BattlesThis is a tough one. Exodus: Gods and Kings’ use of CGI is either its saving grace or its downfall. But even with the success of movies like 300 and Godzilla, the constant use of CGI and large-scale special effects could detract from one of the most widely known and oldest stories on Earth.Fury employs an actual Tiger 1 tank in filming, the first time the historically accurate tank has been used in a recent war film. Also it’s battle scenes are gritty, beautifully choreographed, and don’t glaze over the moral consequences of battle.Advantage: Fury
The EnsembleExodus: Gods and Kings pretty much kills the ensemble cast game. If, for some reason, Sigourny Weaver, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Joel Egerton aren’t enough, the film also features fan-favorite Aaron Paul. Due to the action-heavy nature of this film, however, there is a risk these absolute pros won’t get the screentime they deserve. Fury is a slower paced, character-driven war flick, and it’s not hard to picture Lerman, Shia LeBeouf, Michael Peña, or Jon Bernthal creating memorable scenes filled with emotion.Advantage: Fury
DirectorRidley Scott. Enough said.Advantage: Exodus: Gods and Kings
Oscar OddsWhile both films feature blockbuster action sequences, big stars, and epic stories, Exodus: Gods and Kings is just a little too epic for its own good, glazing over character development and emotional depth for flashy plague scenes and looks of pure terror on Ramses’ face. Fury‘s brotherly bonds—the cute relationship between Pitt’s Wardaddy and Logan Lerman’s Cobb—and insistence on the human toll of war makes it a tearjerker and definite Oscar contender.Advantage: Fury
The VerdictWe’ll probably end up watching both films when they come out in movie theaters, but Fury‘s combination of emotional depth, action, and awesome mid-century haircuts is not to be missed.Winner: Fury
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.