The Movie Snob gets wet.

Noah  (B+).  If you are of a certain age, perhaps you too remember a movie from your childhood called In Search of Noah’s Ark, which rather sensationally depicted some guy’s story that he had stumbled across the remains of a giant wooden ship in the high snowy reaches of Mount Ararat.  I guess he had trouble re-finding the exact spot, because I never heard about any subsequent expedition triumphantly sledding it down the mountain.  Anyway, that movie made a big impression on me, and so I was looking forward to seeing this new movie from Darren Aronofsky, director of Black Swan, among others.  I thought it was a very interesting take on the story, and pretty exciting considering that we know how it all comes out in the end.  Russell Crowe (Les Miserables) makes a good Noah, a man consumed with disgust for mankind’s wickedness and with the desire to know and do the will of the Creator.  Jennifer Connelly (Inkheart) plays his long-suffering wife, and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson, This Is the End) plays the grown-up version of a waif adopted by the Noah family in the pre-ark years.  Oh, and good old Anthony Hopkins (Thor: The Dark World) turns up as Noah’s grandfather Methusaleh.  The movie is rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images, and brief suggestive content, so don’t take the little ones.  And don’t expect complete fidelity to Genesis 6-9.  That said, I was quite entertained and intrigued by the film.  For a Catholic priest’s review of the film, click here.


Movie Man Mike gets hammered.

Thor. (B-)  I didn’t much care for the comic book character; it was really kind of boring.  But the big screen, some CGI, and Chris Hemsworth combine to make his an engaging movie-going experience.   This is the first of a summer filled with action heros and it’s worth the price of admission.  The film has some big-name actors in it as well, with Anthony Hopkins playing Thor’s father, Odin.  Rene Russo is Thor’s mother.  Natalie Portman plays Thor’s earth-girl love interest.  And Tom Hiddleston, who has previously mostly had a TV career, is a quite good as Thor’s brother, Loki.

You’ll want to stay through the credits because there’s a preview of Thor’s next film—The Avengers—which is currently being filmed.  The Avengers is set for release in 2012 and will have an all-star cast and a whole line-up of superheros, some of whom will have their own stand-alone films out this summer.  You won’t want to miss these action-hero films if you want to be on the same page when The Avengers hits the big screen.   Also, The Avengers is being written and directed by Joss Whedon, who is known for his ingenious work with the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Serenity.

The City of Your Final Destination

A movie review from The Movie Snob

The City of Your Final Destination (B-). This is the latest from director James Ivory (Howards End), so if you’re expecting a talky drama, you’re right on the money. A young literature professor type named Omar is desperate to write an authorized biography of deceased author Jules Gund, but the trustees of his estate (his widow, his mistress, and his brother) send him a letter denying him permission. Omar’s pushy girlfriend Dierdre pushes him into going to meet them face-to-face (and unannounced) to try to change their minds. The hitch is that they all live on a ranch called Ocho Rios — in Uruguay! But Omar goes, and he uncovers some familial secrets as he gets to know the widow (Laura Linney, You Can Count on Me), the brother (Anthony Hopkins, The Wolfman), and the mistress (Charlotte Gainsbourg, 21 Grams). It’s not a bad story if you like this sort of thing, but Omar is such a wishy-washy dishrag of a dude I just wanted to slap him after a while.

The Wolfman

A new review from The Movie Snob

The Wolfman (C). I’m not familiar with any of this film’s famous predecessors (not even Teen Wolf), so I approached it with a fresh eye. It boasts a strong cast (Benicio del Toro of Traffic, Emily Blunt of The Devil Wears Prada, Anthony Hopkins of everything under the sun, even good old Geraldine Chaplin of Doctor Zhivago and BloodRayne) and buckets of gore, but that doesn’t make up for the lackluster plot and the lack of decently earned scares. Sure, you jump a couple of times when someones jumps into the frame from off screen, accompanied by a horrifically loud noise, but where’s the art in that? Anyway, some nasty critter is loose in the 1891 British countryside, killing Gypsies and Englishmen indiscriminately, and Lawrence Talbot (del Toro) takes it on himself to figure out what’s going on after his brother is killed by the monster. Lawrence gets bitten but survives. Bad Things ensue. The movie is adequate for a matinee, but I wouldn’t pay full price.


Movie Man Mike returns with a DVD review

Slipstream (D). With a cast including John Turturro, Christian Slater, Kevin McCarthy, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jeffrey Tambor, and Anthony Hopkins, you would expect something great. Don’t. Poor Anthony Hopkins. What was he thinking? He wrote and directed this film. Maybe on paper the story was better than it was on the screen, but I had trouble with this one. The film is supposedly about a writer who is called upon to rewrite a script after one of the actors dies during the shooting of the film. As the rewrite gets underway, the writer seems to lose touch with the reality of what’s in the script and what’s real. Had I not read this synopsis prior to seeing the film, I am not sure I would have gotten that out of the movie. From the very outset, the film is disjointed and jerky and comes across as if someone has already lost touch with reality. Therein lies the problem, because after the actor played by Christian Slater dies during filming, the screenplay writer played by Anthony Hopkins is called in for the rewrite. The disjointed, jerky, dreamlike sequences just continue while Hopkins plays a befuddled old man. The only redeeming aspects of the film are that there are some nice performances by Turturro, Slater and Duncan, but those performances hardly make up for the rest of the film. Don’t make the mistake of renting this one like I did.


New from The Movie Snob

Fracture (C+). Despite a warning from my sister that this legal thriller was pretty mediocre, I spent a chunk of my Sunday afternoon on it. It stars Anthony Hopkins (Noah) and this hotshot newcomer Ryan Gosling (The Big Short), and the Dallas Morning News reviewer gave it a B. Plus, it co-stars Rosamund Pike, who played the icily gorgeous femme fatale Miranda Frost in the James Bond flick Die Another Day. So it seemed to have potential. Anyhoo, Sir Anthony plays a brilliant aircraft engineer who discovers that his much-younger wife (Embeth Davidtz, Schindler’s List) is having an affair. He shoots her in the face, but she survives, and he insists on representing himself in the subsequent trial for attempted murder. Gosling is the D.A. who draws a case, a cocky lawyer who’s about to quit prosecuting in favor of a job with a big corporate law firm. But the alleged perpetrator has a few surprises for him in the courtroom. I was never bored, but I didn’t leave satisfied either. Go see the German flick The Lives of Others before it disappears from the Inwood Theater instead.

P.S. This is post number 601 on The Movie Court!


New from The Bleacher Bum


As the late Robert F. Kennedy never reached the iconic status of his older brother, John F. Kennedy, Bobby should not be compared to JFK. Emilio Estevez (The Way) wrote, executive produced, and directed the film. The film follows the last day in the life of Robert F. Kennedy. The action takes place at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, the site of Kennedy’s assassination. The cast includes Anthony Hopkins, Laurence Fishburne, Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, William H. Macy, Martin Sheen, Helen Hunt, Joshua Jackson, Estevez, and six other recognizable actors also star in the film. Look for a standout performance from Joshua Jackson. The actual footage of Robert Kennedy and his speeches are phenomenal, but that and the great casting don’t cover up for the lack of a plot or any intellectual dialogue. If you need a history lesson of a tragic day in our country’s past, then you must go see the film. However, don’t expect to be entertained during the lesson.

Bleacher Bum movie scale: Homerun, Triple, Double, Single, Strikeout

Bobby: Double

Proof; Wall; Mata Hari

New reviews from The Movie Snob — a troika of mediocrities

proof (C+). This new film stars Anthony Hopkins (Thor) as a once-brilliant, later-insane mathematician, and Gwyneth Paltrow (Iron Man) as his perhaps-also-brilliant, perhaps-also-tending-towards-insanity daughter Catherine. After Hopkins’s character passes away, Catherine slips into a deep funk, and her mood is not improved when her older sister Claire (Hope Davis, Captain America: Civil War) comes to Chicago for the funeral with a gradually-revealed agenda of her own. Meanwhile young mathematician Hal (Jake Gyllenhaal, End of Watch) further unsettles things by showing a keen interest in the deceased professor’s unpublished notebooks and in his younger daughter as well. It’s not a bad movie, but I just didn’t find any of it particularly compelling. I should add that my cousin Diane, whose field is social work, liked the movie much more than I did and would have given it a B+.

Wall (C). Not to be confused with the Pink Floyd rock opera of similar name, this is a documentary about the massive security fence/wall that the Israelis built to keep Palestinian suicide bombers out. Going into the theater, I picked up a flyer that contained a review calling this movie “exceptionally evenhanded.” I, however, found the movie exceptionally anti-wall and basically pro-Palestinian. According to the Dallas Morning News, the filmmaker Simone Bitton considers herself an “Arab Jew,” and almost everyone she interviews in this movie is highly critical of the wall. The films includes virtually no context or history, no maps to explain what we’re seeing, and certainly no report on the broader impact of the wall beyond the people who live right along it. Thus, although we are quickly told that the wall costs $2 million per kilometer, we are given absolutely no information on whether the wall has been effective at diminishing terrorism and other crimes in Israel. Although we are told that the wall encroaches on Palestinian territory as demarcated by the “Green Line,” we are not told what the Green Line is or why it should be controlling. In all, a very unsatisfying film. The grade is relatively high only because the visuals of the wall and of the Holy Land are interesting, even striking.

Mata Hari (1931) (C-). Continuing my exploration of Greta Garbo’s oeuvre on DVD, I watched this early effort the other night. The tale is that of Mata Hari, an exotic dancer in World War I Paris who was executed by a firing squad after being convicted of spying for the Germans. In this telling, her downfall resulted from her falling in love with a passionate young Russian lieutenant and thereby arousing the jealousy of an old Russian general with whom she had previously kept company. Although Garbo largely conquers her penchant for overacting seen in Anna Christie, she still mugs fairly shamelessly in a few scenes. Overall, it’s just not a very good movie.

The Human Stain

A review from The Movie Snob:

The Human Stain. (C) This is a difficult movie to review because it contains several twists and turns that the moviegoer will prefer to learn about only by watching the movie and not by reading a review. I will comment, however, on the one aspect of the movie that everyone should already know about before he or she walks into the theater, which is that the characters played by stars Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman get romantically involved. I wasn’t buying it. He’s a 70ish college professor of classics, and she’s a (gorgeous) 34-year-old janitor at the same college, and she seems to be only semi-literate to boot. Although Hopkins’s attraction to her is believable (after all, she is Nicole Kidman, and he is a living male human being), the love story is not, and the “ick” factor is high. Moreover, although the twists and turns in the movie’s plot are interesting in the abstract, they are not compellingly translated onto the screen. Average at best.

Red Dragon

A movie review by guest reviewer, Carrie P.:

Red Dragon (B)

The prequel to Silence of the Lambs is an interesting movie. Less about Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) than about protagonist Will Graham (Ed Norton) and serial killer “Mr. D a/k/a the Tooth Fairy” (Ralph Fiennes). Its not the Oscar worthy contender that Silence was, however, it was very entertaining, albeit with a somewhat predictable ending that leads to an attack on Norton’s family. It is definitely better than the Silence sequel Hannibal, which I found to be sophomoric and almost as bad as a teen horror flick. Check out Red Dragon on DVD – without the kids, of course.