This weekend we finally get to see if there is anything behind the controversy of Darren Aronofsky’s Biblical epic, Noah. This Old Testament adaptation goes up against Jason Bateman’s directorial debut, Bad Words and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s latest movie on his comeback tour, Sabotage. It’s time to see if Noah and the flood will drown the competition at the box office.
On the first day there was Pi. Darren Aronofsky’s weirdness was shown to the world. On the second day, Requiem for a Dream taught everyone that drugs are the worst thing ever. On the third day, Aronofsky showed that he was most likely on drugs while filming The Fountain. The fourth day showed us the unflinching portrayal of a retired has-been in The Wrestler. On the fifth day, we saw a combination of schizophrenia and ballet with Black Swan. And now, all this leads to the director’s long-pursued passion project, Noah.
It’s odd that such a darker-leaning auteur would be fixated on filming a biblical epic. Go figure.
The story of Noah and the Ark is commonly known, yet this movie still needs a summary because it gets a little interesting. The movie starts a quick overview of Adam and Eve. It describes that the descendants of Cain and Seth are spread out through the world. Seth’s descendants (Noah and his lineage) struggle to maintain righteousness but are hunted by Cain’s line. Noah (Russell Crowe) hides his family from would-be murderers. As he struggles to keep his family safe, he has a dream about the creation of the world and the oncoming end. He visits his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and receives confirmation of the destruction of mankind. After a few miracles, it becomes clear that he’s meant to build and Ark and save the world’s animals. So he and the rock angels start building.
Wait! Rock angels? What?! Yes, this is where it starts getting weird. Apparently fallen angels were sent to be the watchers of Earth after the fall of Adam and Eve. In their transition, they became one with the Earth and are now monstrous rock biters. It’ll really throw you off as you see snakes slither their way to the ark and then you see these rock beasts cutting down trees.
But somehow, you go with it.
Noah and his new project are discovered by Tubal Cain (Ray Winstone) and his followers. They plan to take the ark, but are afraid of the giant rock beasts, so they delay attacking with the intent to gather an army.
Russell Crowe is impressive as Noah. He is asked to show many sides of this prophetic man. He constantly struggles with the pressure that’s placed on his shoulders. He is only a man, after all, and the movie delves into that during the second half. Let’s just say that “All work and no play, makes Noah a dull boy” is a strong allusion to Noah’s conflicted character.
In the first frames of this movie, you will immediately be engaged. Aronofsky is a great filmmaker and never phones it in. He along with composer, Clint Mansell manage to craft scenes of genuine emotion. Noah is extremely compelling. When it ends, you’ll be surprised that it is a hefty 2 hours 20 minutes. It feels far shorter.
It took me days to compress my many thoughts about Noah. I liked it but couldn’t explain why. It’s not perfect. There’s an unnecessary subplot about a stowaway on the Ark. The environmental message is clearly there, but anyone with a brain can get past that or go along with it. Even Noah, for a time, believed the flood was being sent to wipe man out completely and let Mother Nature take its rightful course.
No one should be offended that the word “God” is excluded. “The Creator” is mentioned dozens of times, and we should realize that people of all eras/religions use different names for deity.
This film takes plenty of risks, but the movie is stronger for them. It will leave religious types and atheists scratching their heads at times, but the story and the way it is told is compelling enough to keep your attention. I’d argue that Noah is an inclusive movie.
No matter who you are, go see Noah with a grain of salt. It’s tame for Darren Aronofsky, yet risky for a biblical epic. This is the first must see film of the year. Even if you hate it, you’ll be talking about it for a long time. Also, the Ark set is larger than life and pretty amazing.
Last year we saw Arnold Schwarzenegger lead two silly movies that could have easily been filmed in his ’80s heyday, The Last Stand and Escape Plan. Both movies came complete with over-the-top action and Arnie one-liners. Now, we have Arnold in an incredibly serious action movie called Sabotage.
Breacher (Scwarzenegger) leads a team of super-bulked-out DEA agents. These guys are basically the A-Team, if the A-Team was allowed to shoot people in the face for no reason at all. In a sting operation, they bust up a cartel’s mansion and decide to hide $10 Million of the drug money they find. When they go back for the money, they find it’s been taken. Add insult to injury, as one by one, the team is killed. They group together to find the killers, which could be the cartel that wants revenge or even one of the task force members themselves.
I just simplified a movie that has 19 too many plotlines. This movie takes so many turns into unnecessary stories, that it starts getting ridiculous. The opening credits show Arnold watching a video of a woman getting tortured by a cartel. This is poorly explained halfway through the movie and didn’t need to be here at all. Another story follows a sarcastic agent (Olivia Williams) as she investigates each death and joins Breacher in the fight, while also becoming romantically entangled with Breacher.
Sabotage has a surprising cast. The supporting cast is comprised of Sam Worthington (codename: Monster), Joe Manganiello (Grinder), Josh Holloway (Neck), Terence Howard (Sugar), Max Martini (Pyro) and Mireille Enos (Lizzy. I guess she doesn’t get a codename). Enos does her best Michelle Rodriguez tough girl impression throughout the movie.
Any time the movie starts to drag or become completely nonsensical, director David Ayer distracts you with an incredible amount of violence. This movie is brutal, almost rivaling the Crazy 88s fight in Kill Bill for blood loss. Violence fans, don’t let that draw you in. It’s not “fun” violence, only pandering for shock value. Speaking of shocking, the dialogue is dreadful. Every character drops the F bomb to emphasize what they’re saying and it’s forced.
Basically, the plot is awful. Nothing makes sense. The supposed plot twists feel like they were made up on the spot. None of the characters are likable. No character has a clear agenda. The ending seems like it was tacked on to make it feel like a western. This is a terrible movie and it’s unforgivable that Arnold doesn’t spout any one-liners.
Sabotage doesn’t know what it wants to be. It wants to be a mystery thriller and smart corruption movie. It takes itself too seriously and then has time to shed as much blood as a movie like 300. Skip this one. Not even good for hardcore action movie fans.
Jason Bateman stars in his directorial debut, Bad Words. He plays Guy Trilby, an antisocial 40 year old who competes in middle school spelling bees. He is able to compete, much to everyone’s chagrin, because of several loopholes in the Spelling Bee competition rulebook. He is being sponsored by an online journalist (Kathryn Hahn) as she looks for a great story while following this jerk. Trilby makes his way to the National Spelling Bee, but along the way, he is befriended by Chaitanya, a young Indian boy also competing in the Bee.
As the title implies, there are plenty of bad words used. Yet, it still has a lower swear count than Sabotage. The humor in this dark comedy really comes down to how funny you think it is when kids say terrible things. Most of the clever lines were shown in the trailer (which didn’t stop my screening audience from guffawing away). Otherwise, the movie just follows a very unlikable person with a meaningless motive for entering the competition.
Bateman is a component director in a movie that focuses on the muted colors of cheap hotel rooms and gymnasiums. As odd as the initial storyline is, it feels like a great setup. However, the final third feels tacked on. It feels like they’re trying to decide whether to find a chewy sweet center or keep up the shock laughs.
Rohan Chand, who plays 10 year old Chaitanya, is the highlight of the movie. Sure, he plays the all-too-clever kid, but he’s the only likable character.
The only thing that Jason Bateman proves with Bad Words is that he isn’t always nice guy Michael Bluth. He can convincingly play a jerk. If only he played a jerk in a better, more funny movie. Skip Bad Words.