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Noah (2014)

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I kept telling myself that Aronofsky was making a huge mistake with his latest film “Noah.” That it felt as if this talented director was wasting a lot of time and money in making this early-season blockbuster. And all throughout its construction and publicity, whether it was the first images released, trailers, etc…I was adamant that the film wasn’t exactly drawing me in or provoking enough intrigue in me to buy a ticket. But more importantly, it wasn’t proving that I was wrong. All this, and I still found myself having seen it in its opening weekend. Yes, I purchased a ticket and sat in a theatre to view this biblical epic, isn’t that funny? So I guess either the public relation team did its job or I just subconsciously believed that Aronofsky would pull it off. Sadly however, it seems that my original skepticism was well placed and I was right all along…

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The biblical tale of Noah is one that has always fascinated me. As a child, the thought of living on a gigantic vessel carrying every animal in existence was something that stirred my imagination and broadened my humanity. And as I grew, it was as if the tale grew with me. I began to become more aware and paid closer attention to the moral conundrums and decisive humbleness bursting forth from this fable and its main character Noah. Of course, as I grew, the tale’s authenticity slowly succumbed to my increasing intelligence and eventually it’s genuineness dissipated all together. I mean, a tale like that you take with a grain of salt, as I do with every religious tale, and every religion for that matter.

It’s just, I’m not exactly devout to any religion. And I’m sure that won’t sit well with some readers, but I don’t encourage people to part ways with their beliefs simply because they’re different from mine, I just don’t share your point of view about the universe. Look, when creationism is laid out in front of you, much like it is in Aronofsky’s “Noah,” the hidden beauty of its philosophical magnitude really is something to marvel. That being said, its absurdity when placed opposite our universe and the rules that govern it: forces, evolution, dark matter and energy, elements, and so on, are just too much to overcome, but I digress…

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Aronofsky’s “Noah” feels like two-hours and twenty-minutes of pretentiousness. I’ve seen documentaries about serial murderers, rapists, and pedophiles that don’t paint humanity as dark a shade as “Noah” does. So much so that I don’t understand why some Catholics are so upset and intent on dismissing and destroying this film. Aronofsky provides god’s wrath, nearsightedness, and the mysterious ways in which he works in spades. Granted, the entire film isn’t always shrouded in filth and inhumanity. Towards the end, we get some magnificent scenes featuring the beautiful sky spawned by the creator, lined with a massive rainbow shinning with resplendent colours and flying doves. Stunning right? Yeah, this scene takes place right after Noah’s about to murder his two newborn granddaughters before his sons have a chance to commit the act of incest, seeing as there are no human women left after the flood for them to reproduce.

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Look, I’m not trying to take out Aronofsky’s knees. He’s an outstanding filmmaker that I respect and adore…he just could’ve picked a better project. The film’s technical aspects and visuals are radiant and masterful. There’s a scene in which Noah and his wife Naameh have an intense conversation against the bluish-red hue of the approaching Dawn where Aronofsky uses only their silhouettes to indicate interaction…pure brilliance. Conversely though, I felt that the battle scenes and cartoonish-villainy of Tubal-Cain could have been left on the cutting-room floor. They don’t add anything to the film’s depth and atmosphere. Additionally, the film really suffers from pacing issues and struggles with content portions and importance. That being said, at least the magnificent Clint Mansell, composer of the “Moon” and “Filth” soundtracks comes through with another remarkable score.

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The cast, featuring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Ray Winstone, Anthony Hopkins, and Logan Lerman, was perhaps the only thing keeping me going while I waited for what was certainly going to be a misstep for the revered and immensely talented Aronofsky. Surprisingly however, this ensemble somehow managed to crumble under the film’s weak script, can you believe that?

Connelly and Watson stole the show for me, as much as they could anyway with what they were given. Crowe, who is an absolute tank in this film physically, gives it his all, but the character he is portraying has just too many flaws to overcome. As I mentioned earlier, Winstone really does create a strong villain, too bad it’s in the wrong film. Hopkins continues to appear briefly in movies, as he is just a shade of his former self, but hell, we all need a steady paycheque. Did I miss anyone? Oh yeah, Lerman is given a much broader role than his kin in the film, but can’t do much with it. Hey, at least he got to be mentored and obtained tons of advice from this cast of vets for a few months.

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Unfortunately, “Noah” is your typical blockbuster in the most general sense. Yes, it makes you think slightly more than most big-budget films and provides some stunning visuals to go along with the never ending feeling of guilt you now bear once you leave the theatre. It’s a mistake, plain and simple, for Aronofsky, cast and crew, but I’m certain they’ll recover.

Noah: 6 out of 10.

This is the End (2013)

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Fantastical, raunchy, and utterly insane. “This is the End” crosses over multiple genres and does so with an infinite supply of humour, sentiment, and flare. While you can expect the downright nasty and over-the-top hilarity that comes when you trap these funny, vaguely immature guys in the same room. You might also want to prepare for an abundance of heart-stopping moments and excessive, albeit comical, gore. With a plethora of high-profile cameos and a seemingly never-ending chain of body-aching laughs, that more often than not stem from stupidity and selfishness. “This is the End” is a brilliant showcase of the top-dogs in comedy and really magnifies the genre’s constant stream of disappointments. Thank heavens these guys can take a joke just as well as they give them. “This is the End” is everything you think it is, and surprisingly, so much more.

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Jay Baruchel arrives in Los Angeles to spend the weekend with his old friend Seth Rogen. After getting high and hanging out all afternoon together, Seth invites Jay to James Franco’s home for a housewarming party. Afraid that Seth will ditch him at the party, Jay is very distant and unfriendly. Later on in the night, the two walk to a nearby convenience store to buy cigarettes. While rummaging through the candy and beverages, beams of blue light break through the ceiling and carry patrons into the sky. The two rush back to James’s house through the carnage and chaos that awaited them outside. When a series of unsavoury events take place soon after, the party-goers come to the realization that the apocalypse is upon them.

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After the atrocious entries for “comedy of the summer” such as “The Hangover: Part 3” and “The Internship” universally and predictably failed in all their incessant and unnecessary glory, and with nothing scheduled to blow any serious smoke. “This is the End” as of the moment, is easily in the lead and front-runner to win the title outright. Obviously the restricted rating limits its financial success as it excludes a majority of the immature, loud-mouthed youth, which just so happens to be the target audience. Regardless, “This is the End” should create enough critical and box-office success to be one of the best films of the summer. Besides Guillermo del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” “This is the End” has the potential to be the sleeper hit of the summer. With its spiritual premise, quirky cliches, and nasty, unrelenting humour. “This is the End” is that rare breed who’s staying-power is truly unlimited.

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Yes, you may be able to predict a good chunk of the jokes before-hand and of course there is a substantial amount of vulgarity and sexual references, both abusive and consensual. Nonetheless, “This is the End” has a few tricks up its sleeve and part of its unforeseen effectiveness stems from its unpredictable nature. “This is the End” has a story that has been tread and retread time and time again. What makes this go-around unique is unprecedented sappiness and a heartwarming core. Through all the punch-lines down in the muck, surprisingly, there are moments of sheer joy and meaning which truly separates “This is the End” from the pack. Aside from its demented comedic taste and chummy sweetness, “This is the End” offers up a few genuine scares and brilliant CGI work, something no one expected from this buddy-comedy under the influence.

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Written and directed by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. “This is the End” also stars James Franco, Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and Jay Baruchel. Now, there is no question that this group of guys know their way around a joke and how to create an endless supply of quote-worthy dialogue. Still, it is always a nice change-of-pace to see them break out the dramatic chops. Franco, without question is the most accomplished of the cast, yet plays the least grounded and sensible character. McBride and Robinson, easily the most underrated of the group, finally get another chance to showcase their talents. Rogen and Baruchel, the films two leads, form a brilliant duo who need to make amends before the apocalypse takes their lives. As for Jonah Hill, whom I love, I’ll put it this way. He is the one you least want to make it out alive.

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Performed with outstanding charisma and hilarious circumstances, “This is the End” isn’t your typical doomsday flick.

This is the End: 8 out of 10.

Here is a list of the film’s cameos. let me know if I missed anybody.

Jason Segel, Channing Tatum, Rihanna, Michael Cera, Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Paul Rudd, Aziz Ansari, Emma Watson.