Alynda Wheat and Mia McNiece
April 14, 2014 12:00 PM

Hollywood Takes On The Bible

Let there be lights (camera, action)! It’s been a bestseller for centuries, but with film adaptations of the lives of Jesus and Noah, and the book of Exodus, the Bible is having a big-screen moment

It’s not quite like the ’50s, that golden age of epics like The Ten Commandments and The Robe. But with Son of God raking in $58 million at the box office and Noah opening to a solid $44 million, the Bible is a cinematic player again. But what makes for a effective take on the Good Book? Son of God is likelier to please the faithful, but the more controversial Noah might actually feed your soul.

You may already have seen Son of God without leaving home. Stitched together from scenes from the History Channel miniseries The Bible, the safe, unambitious Son covers the life of Jesus with all the sizzle of a communion wafer. Noah, on the other hand, pushes biblical interpretation about as far as it can go—and that’s a good thing.

Remember the giant rock monsters in Genesis? How about when Noah fights the evil king? Where Scripture leaves holes in the story, director Darren Aronofsky fills in wild details. Still, the nuns I sat next to at the film (and my own rereadings) found nothing in it that contradicts the Bible. As Noah, Russell Crowe is a gentle vegan turned psychotic, driven mad by the guilt of being God’s bouncer. He won’t even save a few girls for his younger sons to marry, so intent is he on helping wipe out man. That take on the tale – along with the way the film solves the girl problem – will rile some viewers. But I found Noah refreshing for the way it asks us to reexamine Scripture, faith and what it means to be called by God. That, and the special effects rock.

Hollywood’s Bible moment doesn’t end here. The adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings arrives in December. So Sister Rose, Sister Jennifer, I’m thinking ladies’ night. What do you say?

UNDER THE SKIN

Scarlett Johansson | R |

SCI-FI/THRILLER

Stunning Laura (Johansson) has no problem luring men. She just trolls around Scottish streets in her white van, chats lads up, and they hop in. Then she consumes their souls—or something. It’s hard to say precisely what happens in Under the Skin, which is about an alien feeding on humans. But Johansson is seductively enigmatic as the robotic Laura, who feigns personality only when prey is in sight. Long spells of nothingness are tedious, but the stylish filmmaking and shocking climax will grab you.

DOM HEMINGWAY

Jude Law, Richard E. Grant, Emilia Clarke | R |

COMEDY

Dom (Law) may be in the midst of receiving sexual favors as the movie opens, but that won’t stop him from delivering an epic ode, straight to the camera, about the glories of his manhood. This often-riotous comedy about British thug life gets nuttier from there. Sadly, it doesn’t stay that way, as Dom connects with his daughter (Game of Thrones’ Clarke) after he’s sprung from prison. Law is keenly unhinged as the mutton-chopped brute, while Grant is equally funny as his old partner in crime. Too bad the family bits are so limp.

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