Though not all Old Testament stories get into children’s Bibles, the tale of Noah usually makes the cut. At least, a cleaned-up version does — one that focuses on the “two of every animal” aspect and kind of glosses over the whole apocalypse thing. But if you’d been thinking you might break up your weekend by showing your kids Darren Aronofsky’s Noah … maybe don’t.
For one thing, director Aronofsky — who also cowrote the script (with Ari Handel, his cowriter on The Fountain) — doesn’t follow the biblical text in a way anyone would regard as slavish. Giving the female characters names, for instance, is a departure of sorts, and a welcome one. Adding a villain who stows away on the ark may be less welcome. (Fundamentalist Christians took issue with what they perceived to be a radical environmental message, and with the absence of the word “God” in any of the film’s dialogue.)
Noah reunites Russell Crowe with Jennifer Connelly, his wife here and in A Beautiful Mind; it also features Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ray Winstone in supporting roles. The title role is just the latest for Crowe in a series of dour, humorless, long-haired performances, so if you liked him in Les Misérables but wished he didn’t sing as much, this is just the thing.
Wesley Morris: “[E]motional storytelling doesn’t come naturally to Aronofsky. One sequence cuts between men tussling in one part of the ark and women handling childbirth in another. He might as well have colored the two halves pink and blue. Most of Connelly’s and Watson’s work on Noah amounts to discovering multiple ways to produce tears.”
New and Notable
I won’t bother asking if I’m the only one who’s slightly weirded out by the fact that Anne Hathaway and Jesse Eisenberg voice husband-and-wife macaws in the Rio franchise after getting their start as siblings in the short-lived Fox dramedy Get Real. And the reason I won’t bother asking is not because what fictional, computer-animated macaws get up to in their romantic lives shouldn’t be anyone’s concern, but because I know I’m the only person alive who still remembers that Get Real ever happened. Hathaway and Eisenberg have probably even forgotten.
Anyway: In this sequel to the 2011 film, Blu (Eisenberg) and Jewel (Hathaway) have had three hatchlings and are living with them in Rio. A news report about a fellow macaw that has lost a feather leads Jewel to urge the rest of the family to travel to the Amazon to help. Meanwhile, Jewel’s former owners have their ornithological expedition disrupted by run-ins with crooked loggers. Sounds like a lot of fun for kids.
Wesley Morris: “Rio 2 has a childish, delicious-looking beauty. It’s like watching a box of Froot Loops explode just beyond the tip of your nose. Bring milk.”
It feels like it’s been a while since there’s been a fun black comedy set in the world of hardass British gangsters. Whether you want to jump back into the genre with one written and directed by an American who went straight from this to directing WGN’s Salem is a question only you can answer.
Jude Law plays the titular Dom, a safecracker who’s just been released from a 12-year prison sentence as the film begins. Though his boss (The Bridge’s Demián Bichir) is grateful that Dom didn’t narc on him and says it with cash — £750,000 worth — this is hardly the end of Dom’s troubles. The film costars beloved British character actor Richard E. Grant and Emilia Clarke, the Mother of Dragons herself.
Wesley Morris: “The movie keeps crashing into crude shtick, cliché, and mawkishness. Its one great set piece involves a car flinging the actors through the night air in very slow motion. That’s the sort of inspired image around which a director can build a whole movie, but in this case it leads only to the sort of fitful, wheezing character study we have here.”