Saturday, April 12, 2014


SPOILERS -- I assume you know the Bible story, and I am not going to feel bad about spoiling the extra Hollywood subplots here. This is awful movie, and you shouldn't see it. 

Plot: You know the story, God drowns all of humanity except for Noah (Russell Crowe) and the kids. In this version, Noah agonizes about completing human extinction by stabbing to death the fertile females on board. [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Unpleasant. The subplot about killing off the daughters-in-law provided drama but was terrible to watch.

Noah is sincerely told; here the Creator is the ultimate good guy, and the Creator is justified in wiping out humanity. Killing the whole human race is just depressing, and being God's instrument to kill everyone is hard to put a happy face on. I wonder why Noah's wife Ila (Jennifer Connelly) hugs Noah at the end.

Most outrageous was the killing of women and girls; Three offenses: selling girls for cannibalism, Noah letting a potential daughter-in-law get trampled, and Noah's threat to kill his grandchildren but only if they are girls.  The threatened infanticide of girls by our hero, prophet and patriarch, was really hard to watch.  The Bible's Noah story is not misogynist.  (The idea of castrating his sons very came up.)

The acting was good. I really liked Jennifer Connelly (Noah's wfe, Naameh), and Emma Watson (daughter-in-law, Ila) too. The women had reason to cry regarding the outrageous actions of God, Noah, and all the other men including director Aronofsky. Russell Crowe was pretty great too. He looked troubled, but like an old testament patriarch; the role required a hard ass.

There were some good visuals, especially the snakes crawling on the ark, and the Noah's story of Adam & Eve where all the evils of the world are acted out by silhouette figures flashing past in rapid succession.

None of the positives outweighs the unpleasantness of the experience and the monstrousness of the story. It's certainly not a positive faith-building experience. 

Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Emma Watson

Directed by: Darren Aronofsky

Rating: 1.5 stars: Not recommended, despite the good acting. Too monstrous. Not suitable for children

More: Noah leaves you with lots to talk about. 


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Captain America: Winter Soldier

Plot: Now in the present day, Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), is suspicious of the power of his employer, a secret Super agency called SHIELD. SHIELD's director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is killed, and it appears Fascists are taking over SHIELD so they can control the world with flying, computer-controlled battle stations to kill enemies from the air. The bad guys come after Steve Rogers and compatriot Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and they encounter "The Winter Soldier"/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) who is just as tough as Captain America, and who has lengthy back-story. At the end, the bad guys launch their battle stations, and aided by flying man Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie), they strive to save the world from Fascism.  [imdb]    [photos]

Review: Well-written, well-acted, and always interesting, Winter Soldier is a good action adventure movie. The story is about ideology -- freedom vs safety. It reminds me of the Patriot Act and NSA leaker Edward Snowden.  The action scenes are fast-paced and as special effects are as realistic as they come. I liked the 3D effects too.

Chris Evans's Captain America is so strait-laced and idealistic that he is hard to relate to. He is more of an ideal to strive for. Johansson's Black Widow is so sold-out that she is easy to relate to. They had good chemistry together, and I liked how she was always trying to fix him up on a date as they struggled with life & death situations.

My DW was upset at all the high body count, but it was bloodless violence, and Captain America himself just whacks people with his shield -- something he did endlessly. And the bad guys live on for the sequel. 

Cast: Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Sebastian Stan, Samuel L Jackson, Anthony Mackie

Directed by: Anthony and Joe Russo (brothers)

Rating: 3.0 stars: An interesting and sometimes fun movie. Recommended. Cool, with some ideological elements, but not actually thoughtful.

More: The phrase 'Winter Soldier' comes from Thomas Paine's tract The Crisis, which he wrote as Washington was about to spend Christmas on the Delaware River in December of 1776. The Winter Soldier is never mentioned, and is the heroic contrast to the summer soldier and the sunshine patriot. The real Winter Soldier is General Washington and his soldiers shivering in their camp. Here is the first paragraph:

THESE are the times that try men's souls.

The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.

Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value.

Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.

Britain, with an army to enforce her tyranny, has declared that she has a right (not only to TAX) but "to BIND us in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER" and if being bound in that manner, is not slavery, then is there not such a thing as slavery upon earth.

John Kerry, now Secretary of State, helped popularized the term Winter Soldier during Senate hearings on Vietnam in 1971: