Noah, the big-budget Biblical spectacle from auteur director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan) hit theaters this weekend, pulling in a surprising amount of cash and generating no end of controversy. With a stellar cast including Russell Crowe, Emma Watson, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, and Ray Winstone, an array of impressive effects-driven setpieces, and the benefit of a generally familiar story, it’s received generally favorable reviews. I, for one, was impressed with it. Like much of Aronofsky’s work I think the ambition ever so slightly outweighs the execution, but there’s no standout flaw that might make the average film fan regret dropping the cash to go see it. Of course, since it’s a “Bible Movie”, there’s a lot to talk about here outside of what’s shown onscreen. In particular, I find the fact that audience-driven scores on sites like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes are currently trending far below those of critics to be interesting. I don’t place much stock in aggregate review scores as a general rule, but when there’s nothing inherent in the quality of the film itself to cause such a rift, I think it’s worth talking about. Don’t worry, I’ll get to the film itself eventually.
When I first heard about The Man with the Iron Fists, RZA’s loving tribute to the Saturday afternoon Kung fu flicks of his youth, I was incredibly excited. Then I started seeing the reviews come in and my excitement admittedly waned a little bit. Literally seconds after the film started to roll, however, I realized why it’s important to never let that kind of thing deter me from my initial instincts. Most film critics today–the good ones, not the ones writing for the DVD cover–are where they’re at now primarily out of a love for art films, and the undeniable classics of Hollywood’s golden age. Today’s directors though–again, the good ones–are where they’re at largely due to genre films, particularly those of the lush cinematic landscape that was the 1970’s. This has created an unfortunate system where one side is not always picking up what the other’s laying down.