Weekend Movies: And on the Eighth Day, God Created Cinema

There’s a lot of epicness to behold this weekend: Biblical epicness, bloody epicness and badass epicness.

After much buzz, speculation, nay-saying and media attention, Darren Aronofsky’s Bible epic ‘Noah‘ finally opens today. Although the picture is being shown in 3D overseas, two is the only dimension in which it’s being presented domestically (IMAX included). Russell Crowe leads the film in the titular role as the prophet instructed by God to build an ark that would save him, his family and all animals (with the exception of unicorns) from a world-engulfing torrential rain sent to cleanse it of the wicked – and by “cleanse it of the wicked,” I mean “kill everybody.” As you might expect from an Aronofsky film, things go unpredictably nuts. Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins co-star. If you’re looking for a faith-building story, this might not be it – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth watching.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s return to action movies hasn’t worked out too well so far. Let’s see if his downward trend continues with the ensemble flick ‘Sabotage‘. Schwarzenegger plays the leader of a DEA team that includes Sam “Thundercat” Worthington, Josh “Sawyer” Holloway, Terrence “Not War Machine” Howard and Mireille “Twice- (Possibly-Thrice-) Canceled” Enos. After the team raids the wrong cartel, they’re picked off one-by-one and have to fight for survival. I haven’t seen ‘Sabotage’, but I’m told that it’s just about the bloodiest thing out there.

Opening on more than 600 screens is a Lionsgate title that I had no idea existed. Directed by Diego Luna, the bio-pic ‘Cesar Chavez‘ stars Michael Peña as the civil-rights activist. Wes Bentley, Rosario Dawson and America Ferrera co-star.

Debuting on just seven screens is the Sony Pictures Classics acquisition ‘The Raid 2‘. All of the surviving players (and one who didn’t survive) from the original Malaysian hit have returned for the large-scale sequel. If ‘The Raid‘ got compared to ‘Dredd‘ a lot, ‘The Raid 2’ should be compared to ‘The Departed‘. The stakes, screenplay, production value and action have all been heightened. If it’s not playing near you this weekend, fret not because the movie will expand over the next few weeks. Even if you don’t get to see it then, just wait for the Blu-ray, which will contain the pre-MPAA director’s cut. Check out my Sundance review of ‘The Raid 2’ here.

Two comedies will expand yet again this weekend, both of them to wide status (meaning more than 800 screens). Wes Anderson’s ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is moving up to 977 locations and Jason Bateman’s ‘Bad Words’ is headed to 842 screens.

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