Thanks to musical theatre, every time I hear the name "Noah", my brain completes it with "Oh Noah, you go-ah, all the way back to the protozoa". Aronofsky's Noah, however, does not go-ah.
I had cautiously lowered the expectations bar for this. Really, the only thing that put it on the must list for me was Darren Aronofsky directing. But I knew full well that this would not venture into the Requiem For a Dream or Black Swan territory that I love him for. Well, maybe it did slightly (more in a bit), but for all intents and purposes let's say it veered. I haven't seen The Fountain yet (Best Buy just shipped it to me), but I'd venture to say that's the previous work of his it most resembles. And well all remember how that turned out, or at least what people were saying about it.
Noah had lots of issues, which I will gladly get into. Some were more forgivable than others. Wherever you side on the moral debate or the artistic debate, the bottom line is the core of the film was boring. Such a slow and plodding pace, which is a very bad thing when your movie clocks over two hours. It took ages for anything to happen, and I'm still not entirely sure how they were filling all that time. I like the younguns, specifically Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, but I've never liked Russell Crowe (Gladiator being the only exception) nor have I much cared for Jennifer Connolly. It was also a waste of Anthony Hopkins, Hollywood treasure reduced to a laughable role in a painfully bad film.
As an Aronofsky fan, there were a couple subtleties I picked up on that I could appreciate. There were some roughly cut rapid time progression shots that looked really cool. The biggest Aronofksy-ism was completely lost on me until later. True, maybe if I was more familiar with The Fountain, I may have caught it. Here, it was how he was playing with time and setting. As I assumed most people did, I just thought it was set in biblical times. Which then made it really weird when I noticed how well defined and modernly detailed their clothing looked (a friend said it looked like "a gap button-down shirt underneath [their] animal skins). One shot of Noah looked to me like my Dad wearing a Polo shirt and jeans about to go work on the garage. The animals also looked more like something Riddick would have made friends with on another planet. Then there was the things that I can only describe as the spark of creation, though I'm sure that's not what they were going for.
Turns out, all those inconsistencies were because you weren't necessarily supposed to make the assumption this was set in Biblical times. Aronofsky meant for it to be more lost in time and ageless. Maybe it happened back then. Maybe it's 2000 years in the future. Maybe it's happening right now in a parallel universe. Um okay. In retrospect, that might have been a cool idea, but it did not come across at all. If there was ever any subject matter you have to be careful with, it's Biblical stories. I feel it's okay to play around with that source material as long as you're clear on your intentions. This was a lot of mixed signals.
They veered from the Biblical story, but weren't brave enough to flat out say it was their own thing. That last minute disclaimer that got added to the ad campaign just planted them more firmly on the fence. As someone who was raised with the story and knows it very well, some changes bothered me more than others. And because the intentions of the filmmakers were ambiguous, when it bothered me, it really bothered me. I feel like if I had known what the vision was beforehand, I could have more quickly forgiven what I didn't like.
There were some, shall we say, unique interpertations taken towards Noah's motivation, particularly as the flood got going (btw, if you think me mentioning the flood is a spoiler, you've got your own problems). While I didn't necessarily like where it went, I think if Aronofsky would have really let loose with his brand of psychological thriller that he's so wonderful at, we could have had something really cool. I feel like once he went there, he already lost a part of his audience (if he hadn't already), so why not just go full out? But in playing it just safe enough, to try not to upset people by going too far, it just didn't work. Again, pick a thought and stick to it. Don't toe the line trying not to offend people and end up turning off even more of them.
Right so not a good movie. I'd say disappointing just because I would have expected better from Aronofsky. I realize I'm really throwing him under the bus, and it may not have been all his fault. Apparently there were some disputes between him and the studio and they made some unauthorized changes. So they're likely the ones who are more to blame for the mess. Maybe if he had his way, we could have had a Genesis meets Requiem sort of film, which could have been amazing. Instead, we just got a thrown together mess that was so ridiculously slow paced for what is possible humanity's oldest action story. So much wasted potential. Way to live up to the expectations that the end product wouldn't be worth my time.
Some of the buzz I saw surrounding the new Captain America was saying that it was among the best in the Marvel studios franchise. Now, this may have been an expectations thing for me, but I didn't think it was "OMG BEST THING EVER" nor did I find anything that was blatantly wrong with it either.
I think the Cap might be my favorite Avenger. It's tough not to pick Iron Man, but really picking Iron Man is picking Robert Downey Jr. I like Captain America's backstory, and both of his films have been very strong and do stand out in the Marvel universe from the others a bit.
Something that really strikes me about him that really came thru in Winter Soldier is how human and real he is. He doesn't have an over the top personality, nor does he have flashy superpowers. He's much more subtle. Doesn't mean he can't kick total butt either. I'd taken for granted what a great weapon his shield is. I think before seeing him on screen, I always thought it was kinda silly, but this film really showcased his badass moves with the shield. It's just as shiny and versatile as any sai, light saber, or adamantium claws.
Thinking about it now, the execution on this film was pretty flawless. The pace kept moving. The characters were about as developed as you can get in a superhero flick. The action sequences were incredible. There was even some weighty subtext that I didn't quite pick up on right away that further helps to elevate this beyond being just another superhero film. Oh and points (not to mention serious street cred) for casting Robert Redford. And for the subtle pop culture reference at the end that I can't say without bringing up big spoilers.
Just when I was starting to worry that the genre may be starting to wear thin, my faith is restored. As least Marvel knows what they're doing.
Maybe I haven't really said too much of value this time around, but it is one of those films that everyone sees and everyone is talking about. If you really want a comprehensive, in depth view, there's plenty out there better than mine. In particular, The Playlist had a very well thought out spoiltastic article I enjoyed reading.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier - \m/ \m/ \m/ \m/
Very simple what drew me to this movie: the total Guy Richie vibe. If I hadn't known better, I would have sworn it was his. The humor, the characters, the story, all of it could have fit in right after Snatch. But actually this comes to us from Richard Shepard, who only has a handful of writing credits to his name.
The other big draw was the very unique turn for Jude Law. We've seen many different sides of him, but always with a touch of class. This time, he just let his full sleeze flag fly. And yet, it was ultimately a story of redemption and humanity, which gave some unexpected heart to this otherwise selfish and arrogant guy. I just loved the tag line on the posters "Jude Law is Dom Hemingway and you're not". It just plays up the attitude of his character, that Law nailed perfectly. He might not be someone I wanna hang out with, but I certainly didn't mind watching him for ninety minutes.
Some of the film may have dragged, although I'll admit that I was falling asleep due to the previous evening's activities. But some of the dialog was hilarious, or at least I thought so. No one else was letting loose with the laughter, so I got a bit self conscious about it. But you know what? Lock, Stock, and Two Smokin' Barrells was a good first outting, but it wasn't until Richie brought back some of his team and tried again that he abso-\m/-lutely nailed it with Snatch. I think if Shepard and Law try again, we'll have absolute gold.
I know what books I wanna read next. I was sold on the premise, but given the current state of YA in movies, was hesitant about going all in. But oh man it did not take me long to get completely absorbed into that world.
I am a bit of a sucker for the kind of separation, division, categorization, whatever you wanna call it like we have with the factions. I just love the logic and order of it. No surprise that I immediately identified myself as an Erudite. I didn't even need the multiple buzzfeed quizzes I took to confirm it. I too value logic and knowledge above all else. Okay, so maybe I'm not manipulative and I don't think that I'm so smart I should be running the world, but still. That's where I fit. I loved that it was so easy for me to identify my group and see the world thru those segregated eyes.
You know what group I'm definitely not? Dauntless. I was absolutely blown away by them, but that's certainly not me. Maybe I could have made the jump off the train. I might have eventually made the blind jump. No way I would have lasted much longer than that. It's just not me. I wished it was though. I felt Tris' sense of awe and wonder along with them, but even in watching I felt fear and anxiety. I thought too much into it. I would not be willing to make any of those kinds of risks they did. I wouldn't risk the physical injury and I wouldn't risk the failure and what that meant. Yet I couldn't stop watching. The same way Tris wanted to be a part of them, I wished that could be me.
Okay, because it's a successful YA set in a disptopian futuristic society, with a strong female protagonist unwittingly thrown into a revolution she finds herself leading, there's gonna be Hunger Games comparisons. I get it. Yeah they're very similar, but you know what? They're both extremely compelling. I like that we have a strong girl taking on the world, not crying over boys and their supernatural powers. This is the type of story we need more of.
Shailene Woodley is a phenomenal and capable actress, and I love that this franchise is in her hands. And oooh Theo James was smokin' and smoldering. The one that caught my attention was Miles Teller. I'm so used to him being such a nice guy, that I really relished seeing him break bad. Even if he wasn't the ultimate bad in the film.
I really have been counting down to payday so I can go buy this, even if I've still got a couple things in the queue ahead of it. I'm excited about this world, and ready for revolution.
It's time to play the music. It's time to light the lights. It's time to freak out over my plush childhood heroes on screen, all over again!
I've grown up with those felt friends, and was very much excited to see them on screen again. Much of the same magic was back. They were cute. They were sassy. They were tongue in cheek and self aware. They made me laugh just as much as they did when I was little, although the jokes that got me this time wouldn't have been the ones that would have gotten me then. (Do you really think a six year old will catch that Seventh Seal reference?) The cameos were abundant and excellent. Whodda thunk that the logical follow up to winning two Oscars for working with Quentin Tarantino would be to dance with Sweetums? Plus lots more fun names that I'd rather not spoil.
My one biggest gripe was that my homeboy and favorite Muppet, Rizzo the Rat, was pretty much left out again. There was one joke with him that was a bit too on the nose, but I miss him.
Among the other things I loved, Tina Fey was perfect casting, at least as far as vibing with the Muppets. She may have overdone it a bit, but I adore her, so she's allowed to. I also really liked that Sam Eagle got a bigger role than usual. Nice change, showcasing a beloved character who is usually in the background.
While I was laughing hysterically at the theater, it didn't really stick with me as much as I'd have liked. Nothing wrong with that, but is it too much to ask for more? Okay, one particular Broadway number did stick with me, but I can't help feel that it was overall fairly superficial.