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Exodus: Gods and Kings

Christian Bale, Kevork Mailkyan, center, and Maria Valverde star in a scene from the movie "Exodus: Gods and Men." The Catholic News Service classification is A-III -- adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 -- parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. (CNS photo/Fox)

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NEW YORK (CNS) -- Time was when the biblical extravaganza was a Hollywood staple.

In fact, from the silent era through the mid-1960s, it seemed a safe bet that selected slices of the best-selling volume of all time -- or fictional spinoffs from it like "Ben-Hur" -- translated to the screen on a large scale would yield box-office gold.

Post-Beatles irony and the baby-boomer generation's antipathy toward authority and tradition may have put that calculation to rest for a few decades. But, as earlier movie offerings from this year -- ranging from "Son of God" to "Noah" -- suggest, some in Tinseltown are apparently dusting off their copies of the Scriptures and taking a second look.

The latest to do so is director Ridley Scott ("Gladiator," "Kingdom of Heaven"). The bad news is that his 3-D epic "Exodus: Gods and Kings" (Fox) turns out to be big but boring. The good news is that, somewhere, Cecil B. DeMille is at ease, knowing his 1956 blockbuster "The Ten Commandments" remains the definitive mass-media take on this crucial portion of the Old Testament.

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