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Exceptional Beings (2023) Review

Exceptional Beings opens with Mina Bihary (Rachel Thundat, Teardrop, The Red Tide Massacre) receiving a visit from two unexpected guests with distinctly godlike powers. That’s because they’re Athena (Ciarra Carter, The Wrong House Sitter, Ooga Booga) and her brother Hermes (Dane Oliver, The Resonator: Miskatonic U, Nazi Overlord).

The reason for their visit? Mina can see them, and other gods, even when they don’t want to be seen. That’s something a normal mortal shouldn’t be able to do and raises the uncomfortable question, if she’s not a mortal and not a god, what is she? And how does her existence affect them?

Hermes then has Mina watch a couple, Daniel (Clark Moore, Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, The Wrong Blind Date) and his pregnant wife Xena (Sarah Bonrepaux, Mr. Know-It-All, Cam2Cam) on the day she tells him she doesn’t love him anymore. Mina seems confused as to why, but it should be obvious to the viewer.

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Writer Njedeh Anthony (Creatures of Necessity) wrote Exceptional Beings as a prequel to his novel Godhood, and maybe if I was familiar with it the film would have made more sense. Instead, Anthony and co-director Christian Kazadi (Creatures of Necessity, Diversify) take their time making it clear just what is going on. Instead, we get diversions such as a conversation between two political consultants about the unnamed but rather obvious candidate they’re working for, bickering between various residents of Olympus, and repeated acts of stupidity on the part of Mina.

Poseidon (Eric Roberts, Hide in the Light, Ape vs. Monster) makes a brief appearance as does Methuselah (Jean Charles, After the Reign, Last Warning Shot). Jesus, Noah, and his ark get a mention too. Sadly, Satan, Kali, and The Flying Spaghetti Monster are all no-shows.

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The filmmakers are obviously trying to make a point, Apollo is referred to as male, played by a woman (Victoria Antonelli, Death Ballad, Switched Before Birth), and has a voice that switches between the two depending on his mood. Athena looks like she came from Africa rather than Greece, and, as Hermes says, “If Charlton Heston can be Moses I can be an American ginger”. Of course, there are also lines like “You hedonistic, incestuous, horndog”. And you have to give credit to the performers involved in the scene for keeping a straight face when it’s delivered.

Unfortunately, the other big no-show in Exceptional Beings is that point. There’s plenty of dialogue that’s meant to sound profound, but most of it is pretentious, shallow and really doesn’t tell us anything. It’s not until the conversation between Athena and Methuselah that the script delivers anything but fancy sounding platitudes and mystic mumbo jumbo.

And even when I found out what was going on, it was a letdown. Yes, there’s an irony about the big reveal in relation to Athena’s opinion of humans, but it also involves pulling a new, omnipotent character out of the writer’s asses, a Deus ex gluteus maximus if you will. It’s an insult to anyone still trying to figure the story out by that point.

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Is there anything about Exceptional Beings that I liked? There was the odd bit of amusing dialogue, such as Athena saying Methuselah wasn’t what she expected and him asking if she expected Morgan Freeman. There are also a couple of fights and some reasonably decent low-budget CGI and green screen, including the scene in Poseidon’s lair. But that’s far from enough to make up for all the headache inducing dialogue you have to endure to get to them. And there is a post-credits scene, but I can’t imagine anyone sticking around for it.

If you are a fan of Njedeh Anthony’s novels, especially Godhood, then you may well have a better time with Exceptional Beings than I did. But honestly, all I got from it was a headache.

Exceptional Beings is available on DVD, VOD, and Digital platforms from Freestyle Digital Media. If you want more films like this, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions, some of which might actually be exceptional.

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