Like the unseen, but omnipresent Creator referenced throughout Noah, Darren Aronofsky works in mysterious ways. Far from the $100 million art film many assumed the director of such cult fare as The Fountain and Pi might have made, this re-telling of the Great Flood myth instead turns out to be a 21st century version of one of those big-screen Bible epics from the '50s and '60s, right down to the occasionally clunky dialogue, stiff performances and dubious special effects. But -- and this is important -- in its best moments Noah also offers the same majesty and awesome sense of narrative and emotional scale present in the finest examples of that dormant genre (think perennial favorites like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments), as well as superior blockbusters in general. Along with fans of Aronofsky's edgier pictures, those expecting a literal translation of the Biblical verses may leave disappointed, as the director has produced a lavish, commercially-minded embellishment of a tale that was already quite fantastical to begin with.
It brings me no great pleasure to report that the The Raid 2 is to The Raid as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was to the first Transformers: it's longer, flashier and bloated well past the point of tedium.
Because Oscar voters failed to do so, Leonardo DiCaprio toasts himself on a killer performance in The Wolf of Wall Street.
See the greatest movie never made. According to its director, anyway.
Even by the standards of most wanna-be franchise-starters, which focus almost as much on setting up sequels as they do on the movie at hand, Divergent contains an absurd amount of throat-clearing in place of actual story. Imagine the Capitol training sequence that constitutes roughly 30 minutes of The Hunger Games's screentime stretched out to almost two hours -- with about twenty minutes left over for a chaotic battle sequence... and you've got the basic narrative arc of this launching pad for a new YA-adapted blockbuster trilogy that hopes to succeed where so many (The Mortal Instruments and Beautiful Creatures among them) have failed.
Elsa lets it all go on Blu-ray.
Don't let the attractiveness of Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde seduce you into watching the terrible Better Living Through Chemistry. You'd do better with any of these other three indie movies instead.
It's easy to see why Aaron Paul was cast as the all-American mechanic and underground street car racer Tobey Marshall in the latest video game-turned-movie Need for Speed. Paul's inviting baby face and general good guy demeanor -- the same one that made Jesse Pinkman so damn likable despite all of his fuck-ups and faults on Breaking Bad -- is pretty much the only thing that keeps you from absolutely hating Tobey and his moronic band of road carnage-producing pals.
The title of Jason Bateman's directorial debut, Bad Words, isn't the only thing that's reminiscent of another dark comedy about a not-very-nice-person, 2003's holiday classic, Bad Santa. Both films seek to get a lot of comic mileage out of watching their central creeps treat everyone around them -- adults and, especially, children -- like dirt as they put in motion a scheme for personal fun and profit. Where Bad Santa has the courage of its convictions, though, Bad Words gets squishy and sentimental as it approaches its endgame, operating on the mistaken assumption that it needs to explain its anti-hero's pathology and, thus, let him off the hook for his behavior.
In hindsight, it's a good thing that Rob Thomas's original plan to extend the lifespan of his low-rated teen detective series Veronica Mars by packing the title character off to the FBI was deep-sixed by CW executives, and not just because the ten minute pitch reel for that version of the character is pretty terrible. Making the ever-intrepid Veronica a Fed might have been a logical career path for her, but it also would have cut her off from the life blood of the show: the sunny, seedy town of Neptune, CA, which provided her with plenty of mysteries to solve as well as a deep bench of richly-drawn characters to befriend or bedevil her. Thomas himself clearly recognizes how important Neptune was and is to his heroine, because he smartly makes that relationship the central focus of the long-awaited, fan-funded movie, also called Veronica Mars, which continues Veronica's story by bringing it all back home.
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