Noah (2014): You know the story. God tells Noah that he's going to destroy the world with FIRE! No wait, WATER! Then he entrusts Noah with the task of zookeeper in an arc.
Just having some fun with the synopsis. If you don't like it, bite me. Ok let me pull you aside and let's have a talk real fast. REAL fast. Hi. How are you doing? Fantastic. Listen: do you want Noah to be a Bible thumper movie? Sorry, ain't gonna happen. You're gotta watch God's Not Dead again if you want one of those. Do you want Noah to be a textbook Darren Aronofsky movie? Tough sh*t. You ain't gonna get that either. Got it? Sweet. Good talk. Hey! Did you see what I did there? I just told you what is far and away the BIGGEST fault of this movie in a nice bedside manner. And who says chivalry isn't dead.... Back to the matter at hand though, this fault is hugely glaring throughout the movie. And is what kills this movie of having any real potential. On one hand, it is a Bible thumper movie. After all, this is a Biblical story, and it is clear that God is all-knowing and all-powerful, and us men have no true free will because we can't defeat His wishes (the main bad guy of the film, who is very obviously evil incarnate, says at one point "Man is not ruled by the heavens. Man is ruled by free will." It's pretty clear where this movie is coming down on these issues.) and we even get the Bible's creation story in the middle of the movie. It's essentially in this movie just to make the conservative Christians feel good, as it doesn't really have much of a purpose otherwise honestly.
But, on the other hand, this is a Darren Aronofsky film. It is very artsy, very grimy and very real. It is beautiful to look at, and as the animals come to the ark it is pretty cool to watch. There are these characters called the Watchers that are these giant rock creatures that were fantastic too. They looked very earthy and every action they took looked very meticulous and realistic. Despite the fact that they have like 6 hands. These are very much in the Aronofsky style. The Bible stories that were told in this were showed in a wonderfully artsy way, using great editing and cinematography to portray them. But Aronofsky also takes liberties with the film that will please those of us who liked movies like Black Swan, The Fountain, and Requiem for a Dream. But will piss off the conservative Christians in the process. For example, there's a subplot with one of Noah's sons that's very.....liberal. I'll just leave it at that. This movie takes the whole killing idea very seriously, with Noah at points turning into a very talented soldier and killing quite a few people. Isn't that against a Commandment or something? There's also this idea, as in the overall theme, that Noah is obsessed (like most of the main characters in Aronofsky films) with an idea. The idea that God thinks mankind must end once they save all the animals. However this idea is inherently flawed because of one minor detail. We're still here. Or something. Something like that I don't know. I mean this movie is obviously trying to be "historically accurate" depending on what you believe, but I think we can all agree that Noah did not force mankind to end. Just saying. Because of this, the main dramatical tension point of this movie....well....not dramatic. It fails miserably. Frankly, I was bored for most of this 138 minute film. Oh ya, this movie is way too long. All of this combined leads to what I said at the beginning: this movie is not enough of a Bible thumper movie to please conservative Christians, however it is also not enough of an Aronofsky film to please the fans like Black Swan or Requiem did. It is too conservative to be a good Aronofsky film and yet too liberal for most of its viewers. THERE! Summed up the main fault in one sentence. Boop.
Let's see what else to talk about....acting? Sure! Crowe was ok, though his accent was kind of unnecessary. I wish we knew what happened to Jennifer Connelly. She used to be a good actress but now she is just overacting like nobody's business. Her big emotional scene was just overdone to no end. It was pretty laughable. The big up-and-comers that found themselves in this, Emma Watson and Logan Lerman, have very minor roles and aren't really given the chance to show off their acting chops. Even though Watson definitely was the best part of this movie. As usual. By the way Lerman's main character introduction was him spying on Watson and her lover in the movie, played by Douglas Booth. For a little while I honestly thought we were going to get some romantic tension between Watson and Lerman, which made me chuckle to myself. Sound familiar? (If it doesn't, Lerman played the guy who fell madly in love with Watson's character in one of my favorite movies of the last 10 years, The Perks of Being a Wallflower) The only other actors to mention here are Nick Nolte (Tropic Thunder) who I didn't even realize was in this until I IMDB'd it and now can't pinpoint what character he was, Ray Winstone, who was the main bad guy and just inherently evil just because he's a man so obviously he's corrupt, and Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins has the only bit of comedy in this movie. At all. You get like two laughs out of his character and the subplot surrounding him and that's it. I get that it's a drama and not a comedy, but usually the tactic of throwing a laugh in every now and again does work in a drama and could've been welcome here during the huge segments of this movie that's overly self-aware and pretentious. The movie is trying so hard to pull on your heart strings, and it just doesn't work. There is one scene that got to me emotionally involving the screams of the people drowning outside the arc as the flood waters are rising, but this is a very quick scene, and by the next scene everyone outside is dead. Is that a spoiler? I don't think so. I mean after all we all know about the part where the flood killed everyone else other than Noah and his family. Again if you're upset at me for this part, bite me.
So what do we the viewers get here? A very mixed bag. A movie that tries to take a middle road on a topic where you can't really take a middle road on it, and as a result you get a very average and forgetful movie. Now those of us who aren't conservative Christians might find this movie intellectually stimulating at points, but that's about it. I was just bored too much to say that I had fun here. Now I seem to have run out of things to say. Well, I guess I should wrap this up then....either that or introduce Mr. Conway Twitty as a distraction. Nah, gonna do the former.
The Critique: a movie that takes a middle road on a topic that people feel very strongly about, and as a result dooms itself to mere average status by all.
The Recommendation: Wow. Um....if you have faith, go see it. It will likely be very stimulating. However those who are a fan of Aronofsky, wait until DVD or Netflix. If you're a Watson fan, watch Perks again. Russell Crowe fan? Watch L.A. Confidential again. Don't waste your time here. Geez this recommendation is as long as this movie.....HEYOH! I made a funny. LOL.
Rewatchibility: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Average
Need For Speed (2014): In Aaron Paul's first movie since Breaking Bad, he stars as Tobey, a man recently released from jail and out for REVENGE on his former partner (wait they had a history?) Dino. How's he gonna do it? In a race obviously.
Ok so uh....what? Here, let's talk about what this movie does right. What little it gets right. It really gets the racing scenes down. Nails them. They are fun to watch, and very well choreographed and captured cinematography speaking. There was an easier way to say that but I don't care. Anyway, ya. Great racing scenes. And since that's the calling card of this movie anyway, who cares about everything else right? We don't need no stinkin' plot if the race scenes are well done. The cars are mighty sexy, and they do a damn good job showing them off. Even though it's going to take a lot of convincing to make me believe that a Ford Mustang can go 240 MPH but whatever! Moving on. So if that's what you go to see this movie for, you will not be disappointed. However to everyone else who wants more than what you can get in every Fast and Furious movie, well......just don't.
So, everything else. When this movie was not in a car and said car was not racing, this movie SUCKED. The story was the definition of paper thin, the love story was one of the dumbest things I have ever seen, the acting was subpar at best, and the soundtrack, editing, well....everything sucked. Oh ya, why did they have these really weird covers of classic songs? There was this country cover of a Beatles song at one point and I was like, wait what? Just use a country song. I get that you're trying to remind us that they are in the south but you don't have to do that by using a country cover of the Beatles. Whatever. As for the story, the character motivations weren't explained, the love story was horrible, and all of the main plot points were, well....stupid. The only person I cared about was Aaron Paul, and it was because all I saw was Jesse. Oh ya, Aaron Paul needs a movie to break the mold surrounding his persona as Jesse, and this movie is not that. Oh boy is this movie not that. He is honestly not very good at all in this movie, doing a good job to simply play Jesse up again, thus creating the theory that his character in Need For Speed is in fact Jesse from Breaking Bad. He even says Yo when he answers the phone. I couldn't help but chuckle to myself. Everyone else in this movie is forgettable as can be, even Michael Keaton! Oh ya, Michael Keaton is in this. It's just a cash-grab, as I'm sure they paid him a million dollars to just sit in a room and yell about a race that he was somehow able to follow. With magic. I guess. Seriously, anyone care to explain to me how Keaton's character (and the rest of the world for that matter) was able to follow the big race? It was an underground race but still. Whatever. Magic sounds pretty good. Or science.
Ultimately, this movie is really only about the races, and everything else is just kind of cast aside. And forgotten about. Really the only reason you should see this movie is if you want to watch a racing movie. Or loved the Need for Speed video game. Because this movie does actually stay surprisingly loyal to the games. I played several of them on the PS2 and I definitely noticed similarities between the racetracks in the movie and in the game. Not a coincidence. If you are looking for the Aaron Paul catalyst movie, do NOT go see this. It will only make you sad. Well, there you have it. I'm going to go watch Rush again now. At least that was a good racing movie that had an equally as good plot. You should too before you see this. Just saying.
The Critique: Fun racing scenes cannot save this movie from it's sheer incompetence on nearly every other front.
The Recommendation: For fans of racing movies only. And even those....throw some alcohol in you before you watch this.
The Verdict: 3/10 Bad
Divergent (2014): IN A WORLD divided by factions based on virtues, Tris learns she's Divergent and won't fit in. When she discovers a plot to destroy Divergents, Tris and the mysterious Four must find out what makes Divergents dangerous before it's too late. (IMDB)
Ok so first off....I have not read the source material. I came into this cold, and it DEFINITELY makes a difference. This movie....like so many others....had great potential. It creates a world with great ideas rivaling that of The Hunger Games. Seriously. It's that good. And there were times in the first and second act where the world is sort of investigated and some points are addressed about the factions and being an outsider with no home. However, the movie is also just too big for its own good. Way too big. There are way too many characters thrown in here that you are expected to care about, and as a result....I didn't care about any of them. Even the lead. And the love story? Hilariously bad. While Shallene Woodley was excellent as the lead, Theo James was TERRIBLE as the male counterpart. Just awful. There's no chemistry between them, and suddenly Shallene Woodley says I love you and I was like....wait what? Since when is that a thing? It's not fleshed out at all here.
Ok so bad love story. Check. Theo James is terrible. Check. You know who else is in this movie? Miles Teller. Teller was the lead opposite Shallene Woodley in one of 2013's most underrated movies, The Spectacular Now. And, rather than putting him opposite her again, which they should've done if you ask me, they put him as Peter. Who is just a complete d*ck for no reason whatsoever. That's another thing. Character motivations are hard to understand, if they're there at all. Most of the characters are who they are just because. The only one who really gets fleshed out is Woodley. Who is excellent. I will say Divergent has a more identifiable female lead than Katniss from The Hunger Games for younger women, because Tris is struggling to find her identity as a woman as many do in their teenage years. This really is Woodley's movie, and she sure did everything she could to make it better. I look forward to her future endeavors. Oh ya also shoutout to Kate Winslet's screen-chewing. She doesn't get a lot of screen time, but when she does, she does everything she can. To have. All. Of the screen. Maggie Q and Mekhi Phifer are both relegated to meaningless roles as well, which is unfortunate because they are good actors.
Really there aren't a whole lot of pluses here. The world was entertaining enough that I was not bored all that often, and the cinematography and soundtrack were both excellent (the scene where M83's song was used as Tris zip lines over Chicago just might have been the best scene of the movie) but they weren't enough to make this a good movie. It was DEFINITELY overlong, and the third act definitely turned into the DEFINITION of clique. Like....it made Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit's third act look unpredictable. No lie. Really this whole movie was predictable, and it's because I've seen this story entirely too often. It doesn't dare to be different at all, and it really is just....not all that fun. The emotional points were not emotional, and the climax was laughably anti-climatic. Now if you like the source material, you will probably enjoy this, but if you're like me and coming in cold, you will be mostly bored. In the end, it is an average movie, and definitely not going to knock The Hunger Games off its podium as the current movie-series-based-on-a-book series of our culture. Gotta figure out a better name for that.....oh ya and this is a trilogy. My room was full so we'll likely see the sequel, but I can't even begin to imagine what it's going to be about. We'll see.....
The Critique: A very, very average movie that creates an interesting premise and then turns into a standard and unnecessary love story. Shallene Woodley is excellent though.
The Recommendation: For fans of the source material only. There's nothing here for anyone else.
Rewatchability: Moderately Low
The Verdict: 5/10 Average
300: Rise of an Empire (2014): Blood, gore, and sex. Do you really want the rundown on what the story of 301 is? It's kind of an origin story on Xerxes, it's kind of the sea battle of Thermopylae that occurred while the 300 stood their ground at The Hot Gates, and it's kind of....well, the Greeks actually winning eventually. Sort of. Honestly the "story" is rather confusing and hard to follow.
So this movie is crazy and laughably bad. If you go into it expecting it to be ridiculous, over-the-top, gory, violent, sex-filling, and mindless, you will not be disappointed. If you want to sit through 102 minutes of 300 with new characters, you won't be disappointed either. However, that's all you're going to get. This movie tries so hard to be 300, and while it is very similar to it, it certainly lacks the "punch" that 300 had. For all of its faults the original 300 was still a groundbreaking movie, with its over-the-top style and the creative and original slow-motion techniques it used. All 30+ minutes of slow-motion. (Not even kidding....there are over 30 minutes of slow-mo shots in the first 300.) So 301 (shoutout to one of my friends calling this movie 301, definitely a better way to identify this movie than 300 2) used the same techniques that 300 used. But since these techniques have been used A LOT over the last 8 years, it makes 301 feel stale and bland and not creative in any way.
Oh ya. The "story" is rather confusing and hard to follow. I was able to follow it only because I watched the History channel's special on the Persian invasion of Greece and since the movie kind of follows the historical timeline, I was able to understand what was going on. However if you are unfamiliar with the real-life events, you will be totally and utterly confused. And eventually you'll stop caring and just enjoy the violence, speed-ramping slow motion, (slow-mo start of something then it speeds up...which happens A LOT) and tits. Lots of Eva Green's tits. This is definitely a guy movie. If you are offended by what I'm saying, I can PROMISE you that this movie is not for you. On top of the story being hard to follow for most, it was pretty stupid anyway. Lena Headey's (Queen Gorgo of Sparta) storyline was totally unbelievable, and the sex scene between Eva Green and Sullivan Stapleton was clearly just the movie putting in a sex scene so we could see Eva Green's tits. It made no sense, and it was very awkward because it was a hate-sex-fetish scene between the leaders of the opposing factions. Um....what?
Ok, let's pause real quick and talk about the big plus in 301. While this movie may sound like it's incredibly sexist and degrading to women, it's not. Least not as much. Why? Eva Green and Lena Headey's characters are bamfs. BAMFS. While we don't see Headey all that much, ALL of the real enjoyment in this movie occurs whenever Eva Green is on the screen. This is her movie, and her character is a badass chick in charge of everything and everyone on the Persian side is scared sh*tless of her and does whatever she says. Eva Green is clearly having a ball in this movie, as she is screen-hogging whenever we see her, much like Gerald Butler did in the original 300. And in contrast to Kiefer Sutherland's screen-hogging in Pompeii, I thoroughly enjoyed Eva Green in this. I hope this movie creates a badass persona around Green as it did Butler, because I want to see her play more over-the-top badass roles. Honestly, the movie kind of shuts down whenever Eva Green is not on the screen. The scenes with Stapleton are bland and his acting is very sub-par, and no one else on the Greek side is worth noting besides Headey, who does everything she can to make her ridiculously unbelievable storyline believable with her considerable acting talent. Oh, and Xerxes is just an afterthought after his early background story. Kinda wish I could've seen more of him, but when Eva Green defies him it i onse of the best scenes of the movie. Oh ya and she has a line in her final duel with Stapleton about their sex scene earlier that makes the awkward scene worth it. But again, it's all Eva Green being AWESOME. Totally awesome.
To sum up, this movie is still stupid, but I did really enjoy myself. I think it definitely helps if you see it with friends and with some alcohol flowing through your system, as there will be a lot of yelling and OH NO (S)HE DIDN'T!s involved. But other than that, and Eva Green's acting, this movie fails to be as powerful as the original 300. And it is definitely not groundbreaking in any way. If you enjoyed the first 300 you will not be disappointed, but if you're going to watch only one or the other, watch 300. Not 301. Oh and one more thing: this movie is VERY R. Just don't even think about seeing this with anyone under about 15. It is even far more gory than 300 even. Just....don't. No.
The Critique: ridiculous and over-the-top, 301 provides a lot of mindless action and Eva Green badassery, but not much else.
The Recommendation: Guys and fans of 300 will enjoy themselves, but that's it.Eva Green is still objectified so most ladies will not enjoy themselves anywhere near as much. I would not recommend this as a date movie guys. She will not be happy.
The Verdict: 4/10 Below Average
The Voorman Problem (2013): How do you sum up a 13 minute short film without spoiling anything? Um....got it! Dr. Williams goes to a prison and investigates Voorman, an inmate claiming to be God. (Insert Morgan Freeman joke here)
So this is going to be a short review, after all there isn't much to talk about here. Since this movie was nominated for Best Live Action Short, I figured I'd take a look at it. I wasn't going to write a review, but now that I've seen it, I have to tell everyone to do the same! First off, it's only 13 minutes long. This is both a blessing and a curse. There's only like 4 scenes, and each of them are great, but then the movie ends very suddenly. I have a feeling that a good short leaves you wanting more, but they set up a great idea for a movie and then....it ends. I was legitimately sad. No lie. I wanted more! The banter between Freeman and Hollander was outstanding, even though they only had two scenes together. That's about the only thing to comment on, as the other two scenes were just Freeman and an extra contemplating Voorman. But man! I WANT MORE. GIVE ME MORE. This movie was definitely deserving of its Oscar nomination. Congrats to Mark Gill and company on that achievement! But ya! It's $2 on the iTunes store. It's worth every penny. I promise!
My number: 4/5 I WANT IT ALL....or...more. Sorry....had a Freddie Mercury moment there....
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