Twelve days into the lucrative month and we’re just now getting our first December blockbuster. The question is: How will this end-of-year Biblical epic stack up to 2014’s first, Darren Aronofsky’s wild and out there ‘Noah’?
Every few years, Ridley Scott – sorry, Sir Ridley Scott – has to put out a grand scale epic movie. ‘Robin Hood’ and ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ didn’t exactly work (although the Director’s Cut of ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ is worlds better than the studio-compromised theatrical cut), but ‘Exodus: Gods and Kings‘ just might be the successful epic that he’s set out to make thus far.
Christian Bale stars as the iconic Biblical freer of slaves, Moses. The film kicks off with Moses as an adult. Shortly, he learns of his Hebrew roots and must choose which path he’s going to take – that of nobility or that of an enslaved people. As we know, with God on his side, he chooses the latter as Egypt is punished for its oppressive ways. While the first 40 minutes of the film are pretty standard stuff, once the plagues begin, ‘Exodus’ takes a turn for fun and entertainment, and the way that Moses is portrayed as communicating with the God of the Old Testament is pretty cool.
The weekend’s next widest release belongs to Chris Rock’s indie comedy ‘Top Five‘. Ever since its TIFF debut in September, the film has earned plenty of attention and acclaim. Rock stars as a comedian who’s just as much in the public eye when he’s not working as when he is working – and it’s only going to get worse. Life gets crazy when his fiancée, a Reality TV star, talks him into broadcasting their wedding live on her television show. Gabrielle Union and Rosario Dawson co-star alongside a bunch of cameos.
Director Paul Thomas Anderson usually gains the media’s attention with each of his eclectic indie films, so it will be interesting to see what happens when ‘Inherent Vice‘ debuts on five screens. Joaquin Phoenix stars as a private dick in 1970 California. The film seems to be about Phoenix’s character investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, but it’s completely convoluted with drugs and distractions, so much so that it comes across like a replica of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas‘. While the performances are fantastic, that’s about all ‘Inherent Vice’ has going for it.
Finally, IFC debuts the new comedy ‘Free the Nipple‘ on three screens. Starring no one that you’ve ever heard of and based on real events, a group of women rise to protest our society’s censorship of the female body, under the argument that if a man can walk around shirtless, why can’t a woman do the same? I don’t know of many men who will contest that argument, but word on the movie itself hasn’t been good.