Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: Noah is a Fresh Take on an Old Tale

Plus, Sabotage is too bloody; Cesar Chavez is too bloodless; Bad Words is vulgar fun; and The Grand Budapest Hotel is Certified Fresh

by | March 27, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an Ark builder (Noah, starring Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly); an elite DEA agent (Sabotage, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sam Worthington); a labor leader (Cesar Chavez, starring Michael Peña and John Malkovich); a full-service concierge (The Grand Budapest Hotel, starring Ralph Fiennes and Saoirse Ronan); and a grown-up spelling bee champ (Bad Words, starring Jason Bateman and Kathryn Hahn). What do the critics have to say?

Noah

76%

If you’re going to retell one of the most epic stories in human history, you’ve got to go big. That’s exactly what director Darren Aronofsky did with Noah, and critics say this ambitious adaptation of one of the Old Testament’s most familiar tales is visually majestic and powerfully acted, though the screen is so stuffed that the main narrative occasionally gets sidetracked. Russell Crowe stars as Noah, a devout man who lives in harmony with nature. When Noah has visions of an apocalyptic flood, he builds an Ark and hits the high seas, encountering some fearsome descendants of Cain along the way. The pundits say that while Noah‘s grasp can sometimes exceed its reach, it’s a robust, inventive re-imagining of a timeless legend. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we run down some of cinema’s most memorable biblical epics.)

Sabotage

22%

Hollywood has turned out plenty of action films about morally ambiguous law enforcement agents, and critics say Sabotage offers little beyond an overabundance of gore to distinguish itself from the pack. After stealing a huge amount of cash during a raid, several members of a DEA unit are mysteriously murdered. It’s up to the team’s leader, John “Breacher” Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger), to find out who’s responsible. The pundits say the actors are fine, but Sabotage is predictably plotted and cynically violent. (Check out our video interviews with the cast and crew.)

Cesar Chavez

38%

Even the most extraordinary lives don’t follow a three-act structure, so it’s understandable that filmmakers must cut a few corners when making a biographical film. Unfortunately, critics say Cesar Chavez is an earnest but muted portrait of the influential labor leader that fails to capture its subject’s fire and complexity. The film follows Chavez (Michael Pena) during his extended campaign to secure better earnings and conditions for migrant farm workers in California. The pundits say Cesar Chavez serves as a decent introduction to the man, but mostly it dramatizes his work and achievements without bringing them to vivid life.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

92%

Wes Anderson is undoubtedly one of contemporary cinema’s most distinctive stylists, and critics say he’s got another winner with em>The Grand Budapest Hotel, a madcap, bittersweet period piece with outstanding performances from its illustrious cast. Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave, a concierge at a swanky European hotel with an eccentric guest list. When Gustave’s rich octogenarian paramour bequeaths him an invaluable painting, he draws the ire of her outraged son; chaotic hilarity ensues. The pundits say the Certified Fresh Grand Budapest Hotel is laugh-out-loud funny, stylistically bold, and poignantly acted — in other words, what we’ve come to expect from Anderson, and more.

Bad Words

65%

Jason Bateman makes his directorial debut with Bad Words, and critics say that while this vulgar black comedy goes a little soft in the final stretch, it’s a fine showcase for the star’s sardonic, misanthropic persona. Bateman stars as Guy Trilby, a 40-something who finds a loophole that allows him to enter a national spelling bee. He proceeds to insult his juvenile competitors and appall their parents, while a reporter tries to discover what’s motivating his ruthless campaign. The pundits say Bad Words is both tasteless and slackly plotted, but it’s irreverent, well-acted, and often outrageously funny. (Check out 24 Frames for a gallery of actors with noteworthy debuts behind the camera.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

Tag Cloud

marvel cinematic universe canceled TV shows 2015 genre Sci-Fi Rocky CW Seed 94th Oscars Showtime Martial Arts Bravo The Witch psychological thriller WarnerMedia japan Legendary Mary Tyler Moore remakes football Epix cancelled TV series young adult rom-coms rt archives FOX Cartoon Network nfl CMT franchise Crunchyroll obi wan Travel Channel Premiere Dates Music television Cannes hist AMC Plus Cosplay comic book movies YA Fargo indie films screenings Anna Paquin Elton John Black Mirror Ellie Kemper Arrowverse Apple discovery Spectrum Originals Star Wars Celebration Heroines Film A24 game of thrones 2019 90s chucky animated legend ITV E! Schedule lord of the rings jamie lee curtis trophy Funimation 71st Emmy Awards cancelled new york cops Best Director royal family aliens australia new star wars movies 20th Century Fox psycho cancelled TV shows VH1 X-Men comiccon Focus Features Action sequels HFPA TBS 93rd Oscars Warner Bros. GoT scary movies richard e. Grant IFC TV Land Acorn TV Turner Classic Movies RT21 Disney+ Disney Plus satire Writers Guild of America romantic comedy FX on Hulu name the review worst movies National Geographic Marathons Spring TV Trailer blaxploitation Year in Review 21st Century Fox Podcast streaming movies Animation The CW Peacock Esquire GIFs TruTV Ghostbusters Superheroe CBS All Access razzies TCA Biopics VICE slashers dogs TCA Winter 2020 South by Southwest Film Festival unscripted dceu heist movie Valentine's Day Countdown hollywood basketball casting high school scene in color film series festival Infographic Discovery Channel dragons Summer Broadway YouTube Red Marvel Winners Western asian-american Reality Competition festivals natural history First Reviews Emmy Nominations christmas movies Drama police drama Photos halloween know your critic NYCC green book Nickelodeon SXSW Video Games 007 godzilla Country MCU scorecard Universal Pictures fresh universal monsters debate Black History Month AMC TCM thriller Neflix Tokyo Olympics Amazon Holiday spain sag awards Lionsgate Certified Fresh zombies 99% golden globe awards 2016 Awards hispanic heritage month venice Fall TV what to watch pirates of the caribbean political drama Mindy Kaling TV renewals women elevated horror OWN Image Comics rotten Disney Channel 73rd Emmy Awards best Pacific Islander Fox Searchlight child's play Tarantino strong female leads critic resources stoner San Diego Comic-Con directors SDCC mcc king arthur travel Avengers interviews RT History zombie award winner target Sony Amazon Studios hispanic TNT Best Picture Universal batman Rom-Com cats historical drama critics mob Trivia Wes Anderson stand-up comedy El Rey theme song Musical TV movies Shudder screen actors guild Holidays YouTube Premium 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Endgame scene in color series anime kong quibi true crime Superheroes dramedy Britbox breaking bad superhero Tubi nbcuniversal toronto teaser Red Carpet spinoff dexter telelvision The Walking Dead Hulu live action Musicals vs. werewolf Trophy Talk HBO Pirates BET Awards deadpool anthology HBO Go LGBTQ Lifetime Christmas movies Adult Swim streamig disaster DC Universe twilight scene in color crossover Sony Pictures Television Critics Association comic Dark Horse Comics adaptation Hallmark Christmas movies Columbia Pictures Awards Tour social media Comic-Con@Home 2021 Pixar gangster olympics binge stop motion cooking south america BBC Indigenous king kong 1990s obituary versus The Arrangement FXX Disney mission: impossible President Masterpiece Hallmark french Native The Walt Disney Company ABC Family italian Fantasy DC Comics PlayStation Comic Book comedies Food Network Horror jurassic park action-comedy cinemax TV One 2017 Nat Geo American Society of Cinematographers comic books reviews cancelled television Calendar based on movie foreign comic book movie HBO Max Logo book adaptation Instagram Live SundanceTV composers slasher summer TV preview posters black sitcom all-time Best Actress BBC One game show children's TV talk show Paramount Plus GLAAD Pop TV Paramount Pictures Family summer preview boxoffice Lifetime boxing sequel halloween tv Star Wars Quiz romance vampires adventure aapi justice league Disney Plus Character Guide Comedy Central Apple TV Plus Geeked Week politics hidden camera NBC laika Tomatazos Sundance TV ViacomCBS Alien crime thriller golden globes Paramount Network USA SXSW 2022 live event technology transformers DirecTV Christmas IMDb TV Creative Arts Emmys New York Comic Con toy story new zealand Marvel Studios Polls and Games serial killer spider-verse diversity Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt docuseries TIFF leaderboard Television Academy WGN Tags: Comedy Exclusive Video 45 Netflix Christmas movies Shondaland Tumblr adenture supernatural Opinion CBS international 2020 Box Office BAFTA singing competition biopic japanese 4/20 Prime Video The Academy mutant Comedy E3 latino PaleyFest dc die hard Sundance Now archives Election Vudu blockbuster war spider-man Song of Ice and Fire superman USA Network dark facebook summer TV art house Classic Film zero dark thirty MSNBC revenge Sundance popular book ID finale CNN marvel comics TV rt labs Super Bowl monster movies crime spy thriller Crackle comics Reality cults spanish language wonder woman video on demand NBA TCA 2017 saw a nightmare on elm street feel good scary ABC Signature series spanish trailers Sneak Peek Pride Month biography robots movies Thanksgiving Teen Lucasfilm rt labs critics edition ABC Starz Oscars Best Actor news Watching Series worst nature tv talk TLC DC streaming service 2021 See It Skip It Film Festival Freeform Interview Fox News YouTube black comedy Baby Yoda kids Extras Mudbound concert APB Mary poppins Academy Awards Oscar BET Hear Us Out Disney streaming service Mary Poppins Returns harry potter MGM Netflix OneApp FX free movies The Purge PBS Captain marvel fast and furious sports Walt Disney Pictures Grammys space Amazon Prime Video period drama blockbusters Nominations A&E prank science fiction mockumentary Pet Sematary IFC Films ghosts Kids & Family Set visit ratings james bond video miniseries Comics on TV movie classics Hollywood Foreign Press Association indiana jones joker VOD independent Emmys Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Stephen King 2018 target scene in color parents docudrama Ovation Turner Marvel Television sopranos Rock canceled broadcast doctor who Best and Worst Binge Guide 72 Emmy Awards MTV emmy awards Rocketman cartoon reboot streaming witnail Winter TV LGBT 24 frames History rotten movies we love criterion suspense TCA Awards renewed TV shows First Look Paramount Women's History Month Amazon Prime Brie Larson 79th Golden Globes Awards Syfy dreamworks Star Trek crime drama Mystery DGA documentaries Spike documentary ESPN Toys Chernobyl Pop BBC America medical drama cars kaiju Apple TV+