• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

The Ten Commandments

TITLE: The Ten Commandments

YEAR: 1956

GENRE: Action/Adventure

There are some television specials and movies that are played every year like clockwork. Everybody knows that “The Grinch That Stole Christmas” and “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will air annually sometime around December 25, and Halloween will surely be on the television dial sometime around October 31.Another annual television event every year around Easter is the ABC showing of Cecil B. DeMille’s four-plus hour long epic The Ten Commandments. I know that a fair amount of nerd viewers scoff at this film for its legendary overacting and religious overtones, but this is a mistake as The Ten Commandments is one of the great Hollywood epic films of all time as well as one of the most spectacular films for its time in special effects, set construction, and costuming.

Moses (played by Charlton Heston) is a Jew who becomes part of the Pharaoh’s house due to daughter Bithiah (Nina Foch). Moses finds favor with the Pharaoh Sethi (Cedric Hardwicke), the love of the throne princess Nefertiri (Anne Baxter), and the scorn of competing brother Rameses (Yul Brynner). When Rameses discovers from faithful community leader Dathan (Edward G. Robinson) that Moses’ bloodline is from slaves, Moses is banished from Egypt forever. Moses survives his punishment and ends up marrying and becoming a shepherd. However, God has other plans for Moses as he returns to Egypt to lead the Jewish slaves out of bondage and to freedom. Nut how does a simple shepherd fight against the largest empire in the known world?

The Ten Commandments is a must see mostly because the special effects and production details are utterly spectacular. The set construction throughout the film is amazing: the recreation ofEgyptin its ancient glory is utterly amazing and the opening scene of an obelisk being placed in the ground by 2000 slaves is an amazing opening. The last hour is the story for all the history-types who like to see howHollywoodspecial effects and other wonders evolved, and there is scene after scene that is filled with wonders for its time. The ten Biblical plagues are super cool: bleeding idols and fire falling from the sky is epic, but the last plague is especially amazing and spooky as a thick cloud representing Death creeps through the streets of Egypt claiming all the first-born children of the Egyptians. The exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt is an amazing undertaking as literally thousands of costumed extras are used along with countless carts, horses, and animals. The utterly special of the special effects presented here is probably the greatest and most famous effect in any movie of that time: the parting of the Red Sea. That is not the end of the amazing effects though, as God’s punishment against the Jews for worshipping an idol is breathtaking as well as spectacular in its execution as the earth swallows up the heathens. Older movie fans will also enjoy finding the literally dozens of well-known and soon to be known actors throughout the production, including Vincent Price, Robert Vaughn, Richard Farnsworth, John Carradine, and John Derek.

The Ten Commandments was DeMille’s directorial swan song to a career that spanned over forty years and included other classics such as The Greatest Show On Earth, Samson And Delilah, and The Crusades. DeMille was one of the pioneering directors who emphasized production values over star power, and to that every fan of film owes him a debt of gratitude. This film was considered a big risk forParamount considering its huge $13.5 million production cost but it raked in a whopping $80 million at the theaters and has become an indelible part of our culture generations later. The Ten Commandments may not sound very appealing to the escapist movie fans who like big explosions and amazing special effects in their films, but The Ten Commandments was one of the very first films to feature these kind of effects (another religious epic film, 1959’s Ben-Hur, featured probably the greatest non-CGI action sequence ever shot with its famed chariot races in the Roman Coliseum). Next Easter weekend make sure to watch ABC’s playtimes and save that segment of time to enjoy one of the great special effects spectacles of all-time. Then again, Netflix and Blockbuster has a copy just waiting for your viewing pleasure. Recommended.

* * * * 1/2.

–Mark

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