STARRING: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone
DIRECTOR: Darren Aronofsky
THE SKINNY: Loosely based on the biblical account of an apocalyptic flood, it’s the story of how Noah (Crowe) sets out to save the animals by building an ark to ride out the storm. Of course, there are also some humans who want a lift, which is a big problem. Noah also has issues within his own family and his mind.
THE CONSENSUS: There are only two ways to experience Noah — either you’re on board or you’re not. There’s no fence for you to sit on in this watery world.
Whatever you might be expecting from Noah, forget it.
Director Aronofsky has created a version of the universally known Bible story that is downright weird.
Oh, how I love it.
A true phantasmagoria, the flick is basically an unending parade of dream-like images.
Some of these images are "real", such as the angels of light who are transformed into creatures of stone.
Other images are visions, such as Noah's premonition of the flood.
Some images are a bit of both, like when Noah visits his enemies and imagines the vice on display as a scene out of a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
Then there are those images conjured by Aronofsky to flesh out the narrative, adding context with visual poetry.
The universe swirling into creation. Adam and Eve as beings of light. The Apple beating like a heart.
The strange thing is that amid this visual grandeur, the story feels psychologically true.
Of course Noah would feel conflicted about his mission.
Of course his sons would want girls on board.
Of course the rabble would be willing to fight their way in.
Of course the voyage would lead to strife and madness.
This is The End, yo.
It ain't no picnic.
Aronofsky is smart to put a disclaimer at the start.
To call Noah a biblical film would be sacrilegious.
First of all, I think I've paid enough attention in Sunday School to know that there are no talking rock monsters in the book of Genesis.
Also, I never knew Noah had a grandfather (Anthony Hopkins) with magical powers, one who can turn a barren Ila (Emma Watson) into a fertile woman, so that Noah can proclaim "be fruitful and multiply" - literally.
For all it's worth, this movie is an action blockbuster more than anything else.
Aronofsky is probably a fan of Michael Bay's Transformers and Peter Jackson's The Lord Of The Rings. His ark-building rock monsters, aka The Watchers, look like a mixed breed of Bay's Decepticons and Jackson's Ents.
Even the epic battle scene between the heathen who are denied entry into the ark and The Watchers reminded me very much of the Ents fighting the orcs at Isengard.
Noah's story is a brief one in the Bible, thus Aronofsky's need to pad up his 140-minute offering with action pieces and fantastical creatures, but The Watchers simply ruin it for me.
There are great, heartwarming moments between Crowe and the two women played by Connelly and Watson, but a pity there are just too few.
22 JUMP STREET
What it looks like:
Taylor Swift's hit single 22 is given the Hollywood treatment in this buddy-cop caper.
Whereas the song is about the joys and tribulations of being a young woman, the film focuses on a hot dude and a schlub who solve crimes. It still keeps the ESSENCE of the song, however.
What it's really about:
Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are back in this sequel to the cop comedy 21 Jump Street.
CUBAN FURY (NC16)
It's hard to imagine a worse title for a movie.
Nothing against Cuba, but it doesn't exactly enjoy top-of-mind awareness among the movie-going public.
Due to the lame title, you're probably not going to see it but I'll tell you about it anyway.
Nick Frost plays Bruce, an overweight guy who picks up salsa dancing after a long hiatus in order to impress his pretty boss (Rashida Jones).
His rival in love is the office Lothario (Chris O'Dowd).
The premise of the movie is cute and Frost is lovable, but it's kind of hard to suspend disbelief during the dance scenes.
Frost is supposed to be a great dancer, but he really isn't that good, and all the special effects they throw at him don't help very much.
Anyway, the dude is a comedian and the flick is kinda fun.
- Jason Johnson
THE FACE OF LOVE (PG)
Last week we reviewed Jake Gyllenhaal's doppelganger movie Enemy, and this week it's Ed Harris' turn.
Annette Bening plays a nice old lady whose husband (Harris) drowns in the ocean.
Cut to several years later, and she meets a guy who looks exactly like her husband (also played by Harris).
There are a lot of different ways they could have gone with a story like this, but basically nothing happens.
Bening and Harris hang out and fall in love.
The guy she keeps in her friendzone (Robin Williams) gets his feelings hurt.
Her daughter freaks out.
It's incredibly unimaginative.
They should have watched The Vampire Diaries for more and better doppelganger ideas!
- Jason Johnson
SABOTAGE (RATING TO BE ADVISED)
I've reviewed more than 3,000 movies, and this is easily one of the worst I've seen.
Looking every bit his age, 66-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who leads a team of undercover scumbags.
They steal a bunch of money, but then someone takes their booty and they start getting killed off one by one.
Then we learn Arnie's wife was murdered.
Anyway, the plot isn't the problem - it's pretty standard for a junky thriller.
The real problem is the aggressive unpleasantness.
Schwarzenegger's crew - Joe Manganiello, Terrence Howard, Sam Worthington and others - are such vile pigs that it's impossible to care if they die.
The violence is sickening.
There's non-stop toilet humour.
No thanks, basically.
- Jason Johnson