Visually stunning and equally captivating, "Noah", at its core, is the… MoreVisually stunning and equally captivating, "Noah", at its core, is the story we all know from the Bible. As most people would roll their eyes at a big budgeted, Hollywood adaptation of an Old Testament saga, Darren Aronofsky take his patented darkness and flair from his previous works like "The Fountain" and "Black Swan" and carries them into his biggest, most successful undertaking yet. After hearing that Aronofsky had to fight the studio to get his complete, untampered vision on-screen, I knew the film was going to be a masterpiece. When a prolific director is willing to stick their neck out for what they believe, it often means they are doing their best work and are unwilling to compromise. That notion is mirrored perfectly in the film itself, with themes of faith guiding the narrative throughout the course of the film.
Russell Crowe plays Noah, a modest man with a small family, who has reoccurring visions, one of which includes a great flood. With confirmation from his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), who gives him a special seed to plant, Noah proceeds in building an ark that will shelter two of every species of animal and insect from the oncoming devastation. Introduced next, to much controversy, are the Watchers, which are fallen angels in the form of walking, talking stone creatures. Confined to Earth as punishment, these massive beasts offer their help to Noah after seeing the forest that Methuselah's seed provides. Harnessing the characteristics of Ents from "The Lord Of The Rings" and the visual style of Rockbiter from "The Neverending Story", many critics believed these creatures felt out of place in this re-imagining of Noah's Ark. Although I wonder what the film would have been like without them, there is still a majestic quality to these characters that adds to the film quite nicely, and again, these characters were apart of Aronofsky's ultimate vision.
With the help of the Watchers and his family, including his wife (Jennifer Connolly), their sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll), and their daughter-in-law, Ila (Emma Watson), the massive Ark is eventually completed. With most of the cast falling in the shadow of Crowe, besides Emma Watson, who provides a much needed gentleness to her role and the film as a whole, one actor who refuses to be overshadowed is Ray Winstone as Tubal-Cain, the antagonist of the film. Turned away from Noah's camp, Tubal-Cain sends his people to fight for the Ark when the rain begins to fall. Along with this pending war, Noah also faces struggles in securing the animals in the Ark, tending to his family as they worry about their future, and even venturing out in attempt to find wives for his sons. Crowe handles the role with a calm reserve, personifying the legend of Noah. Complimenting Winstone perfectly, you can almost envision a promotional poster with these two perfect adversaries facing off with the Ark between them in the background. Topped off with strong emotion and some of the best visual effects of the year, both of which come out in full force when the flood occurs, "Noah" is one of the most fully realized life action Biblical films to come out of the last few decades and one of the best films of the year.
FORREST GUMP // Chances are most people recognize the phrases "run,… MoreFORREST GUMP // Chances are most people recognize the phrases "run, Forrest, run" or "life is like a box of chocolates" even if the film that they come from is a mystery to them. Having been seven-years-old when "Forrest Gump" came out, it was not a film I was familiar with until much later in life. But these phrases were often expelled during gym class when someone just was not running fast enough or said with the distinct stuttered Southern accent possessed by the leading man. Solidifying just how iconic the film is, these phrases not only marked one of the best performances of Tom Hanks' career, but brought to life a film that encapsulated an era. Along with these phrases carrying on the legacy of "Forrest Gump", a restaurant chain inspired by the film, named Bubba Gumps, and several Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, puts it next to some of the greatest films in history.
The majestic thing about "Forrest Gump" is how it transcends genres, mixing romantic comedy elements with historical drama, relying heavily on its humor but always feeling like an Oscar worthy movie. Tom Hanks plays the title character, a mysterious, kind-hearted man sitting at a park bench, telling random strangers the story of his life. Starting as a young boy with braces on his legs from which the iconic phrase comes in, to Forrest growing up and enlisting in the military and eventually becoming famous several times over. Set alongside some of the most pivotal moments in American history, Zemeckis is not afraid to place his main character's image in actual archival footage, creating an authenticity to the stories that Forrest tells, helping to claim the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects as well. Hanks gives himself over to the role, providing a charm to the simple minded man. Despite his best efforts, the character does come off a bit too goofy at times and, although most of the humor lands, there is still a sense of shame while laughing at such a mentally stunted character.
What does help keep the character of Forrest centered is the immensely talented supporting cast including Sally Field as Forrest's mother, Robin Wright as his love interest, and Gary Sinise with a career highlight turn as Lieutenant Dan. Also grounding the goofiness of the film are several heavy topics like child abuse and death, and how this effects the characters development throughout different periods of their lives. Wright's character, Jenny, is a victim of child abuse and the effects of this can be seen as she grows up to take part in self-destructive relationships. Forrest loses a friend in the Vietnam War and sets in motion most of the story for the rest of the film, involving working on a shrimp boat and starting the business that eventually spawns the real life restaurant chain. Because of this blend between comedy and real life events, with sincerity and depth in both the performances and the screenplay, "Forrest Gump" remains a benchmark in American cinema, having yet to be successfully recreated. And as the images of adult Forrest sitting on a bench with a box of chocolates or young Forrest running down a street kicking off his leg braces project this film into future generations, those that have not seen the film have one thing in common, they "never know what [they're] gonna get".