Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Noah (PG-13, 2hrs 18Mins)

2.5 stars

With all the news coming out about “Noah” and the buzz that has everyone talking about it, it’s not surprising that it was the number one film last weekend.  It does have some merit to it.  Darren Aronofksy put his own version of the story on the screen.  The studio even made sure people knew this by releasing a disclaimer about the film before the movies debut.  Of course that did help the buzz surrounding “Noah” churn even more.

Aronofsky though decided on what he wanted to do and stuck with it.  I will give him credit for that.  The studio did take the liberty of doing some test screening s of different cuts of the film behind his back.  He was not happy about that but the eventual release of the film was Aronofsky’s version.

What he did was at times a beautiful and moving film but at other times just did not make sense.  I realize this is the director’s vision of the story, and I may be called narrow minded for my opinion, but if Cecil B. Demille can stick to the biblical account why can’t Aronofsky? 

If you are going to do a bible story people will want a representation of that story.  Aronofsky did stick to the story but deviated a little from time to time.  Noah did receive visions and I felt this was represented very well in the film.  Also the scenes of the animals coming to the ark were very well done.  They were what gave the movie an epic feel.  I know the animals were computer generated but the scenes of them coming to the ark were magnificent.

I don’t agree with some the interpretations that the director made though.  The giant rock creatures did not seem right to me.  They seemed to be more appropriate for a Michael Bay or Peter Jackson film.  But I can see past them.  There are “Giants” mentioned in the bible so that could be one interpretation of that.

I hate revealing plot point in films because they should be revealed on the screen as the director intended them to be revealed.  So I will only say that portions of the film do not agree with the biblical account of the story.  In fact they differ quite a bit.  This was a sore point for me as I was hoping there would be some return to the origin of the story.  That though was not the case.
If you choose to go see Noah, and many people have.  Go with the right frame of mind.  Do not expect that the director will stick to the biblical account.  In his defense it is a very small portion of the Bible and so he did have some gaps to fill.  Also remember the details you read in the bible are not necessarily going to be shown on screen.

I was intrigued by “Noah.”  I did enjoy a majority of the film and felt that at times I was watching something moving.  After seeing it though, I am not sure I would go back to see it again.  I feel conflicted by this film, but that does not mean this is a bad version of the story of Noah.

‘Noah’: 3 points for parents
Violence – In silhouette, Cain hits Abel and kills him.  Raiding parties kill as they wish.  Giant rock creatures kill humans with weapons.  Hand to hand combat with and without weapons.  Some people think it their right to kill as they wish.  Humans are traded for food.  Animal sacrifice is performed.  Some other animals are harmed.  None of them are real.  Babies are threatened with death.

Gore – Blood is shown in pools.  A girl has a large wound in her abdomen.  The ground a man is standing on is saturated with blood.  A weapon has blood dripping from it.  Bodies are shown underwater in a vision and in a pit in another scene.  A woman steps in a metal trap.  People are tossed about by flood waters.  There are some wounds shown.

Nudity – Only shoulders are seen as a woman and a man begin kissing and then get more passionate.  A woman sits up in bed showing her shoulders, but lower she is covered by blankets.   A man is lying face down on a beach, nude.  He is seen from a distance


Divergent (PG-13, 139 Minutes)

3 stars

The latest Young Adult dystopian society romantic survival book turned film is called Divergent.  Many people are interested in this film, mostly to see if it does well after all the other movies of the same genre that have preceded it.  This does have a somewhat built in fan base after the trilogy of books that have come out.  Seems kind of formulaic, or to be more precise Hollywood.  They always love a trend on which they can capitalize.

On its face this seems like a film that the filmmakers would cheapen by changing much of the book to fit the film into a nice little mold that they feel will sell really well to the audience.  After seeing the film they did better than that.

If you have read the book you know that this story is set in a Chicago that has fallen apart and is still recovering 100 years after the war.  There are five factions that people are assigned to when they reach the age of 16.  A test is administered that determines which of the 5 factions you belong to.  The next day is the choosing.  The day in which you choose which faction you will join for the rest of your life.  It is suggested that you follow the results of your test but you are free to choose whichever faction you wish to join.

Beatrice Pryor took her test but her results were inconclusive.  The test did not reveal one single faction that would be best for her, instead it showed three.  This is known as being Divergent, and that is bad.  If you are divergent the government cannot control you and make you do its bidding.
Beatrice grows up in the Abnegation faction which is a group that is selfless and puts the needs of other before themselves.  On the day of choosing Beatrice selects the Dauntless Faction.  These are the protectors of the collective group, the warriors who are fearless.  When she joins the group she changes her name to Tris.

Tris and the other initiates must go through training to become full members of the faction but not all of them will make it.  In the training the Dauntless look into your brain and see your fears.  This is bad for Tris because she may be revealed as divergent.  She must hide this fact and she gets help from her trainer Four.  Yes the number four, it is his nickname.  She and Four have a connection and I doubt you need to know more than that.  If you read the book you do know more.

Despite being part of a genre that is not known for making great films, this is not a bad movie.  It isn’t great either but it is better than one might have thought.  The filmmakers did follow the book fairly well with some changes to the story that were not drastic.    There are some cheesy moments but nothing like the angst of “Twilight.”  Plus the story does not really get physical except for the fighting that takes place.  

When it comes to violence this film does contain a lot of it.  As such many feel this film is much like “The Hunger Games” As you can see below the violence takes on many forms, and some people do die.  This film does overcome its formulaic base though and becomes somewhat entertaining.  The characters are interesting enough to draw you into the story and make you care about them.  Plus you may start caring for the relationship that is starting.  Of course you will have to wait to see whre it ends after all this is a trilogy.

‘Divergent’: 3 points for parents
Violence/Gore – Many fights resulting in injuries, some severe.  Violence used for intimidation. Characters are trained in combat both with weapons and hand to hand.  Many injuries and bruises are shown.  War games are held with dart guns.  Knives are thrown at people.  Crowds are seen being made to kneel with guns drawn on them.  The body of a man is shown after he has jumped down into a chasm.  Innocent people are shot.  No shootings on screen but there is before and after.  Some characters must shoot family members in a simulation.

Language – Some profanity.  Many threats and belittling of other people. 

Nudity/Sensuality – A man removes his shirt to show off a tattoo.  Men and women share a dorm room and must change in front of each other.  Some kissing that is passionate but is stopped.  A man forces a woman onto a bed but the scene stops, no clothing is removed.