November 26, 2015


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Lions, giraffes... and Crowe



BIG RELEASES: Noah (March 28)

BIG PICTURE: At long last, Hollywood has given us the prequel to Kevin Costner's Waterworld! Russell Crowe plays the Biblical Noah like you've never seen him before -- a hulking, brooding, bearded alpha who looks like a cross between a Hell's Angel and an extra that wandered off the set of Game of Thrones. Noah has visions that God is going to destroy the world in a giant flood and believes he is destined to save the animals by building a giant ark. But the animals aren't the only arrivals: angry tribesmen and a bloodthirsty king also want to hitch a ride on this fantastic voyage! Jennifer Connelly plays Noah's wife, reprising their onscreen connection from A Beautiful Mind; and Emma Watson (Harry Potter) plays his daughter. If I were poised to be the last teenage girl on Earth, I think I'd at least try to bargain for one of the local peasant boys to get a ticket. "Uh, dad, do we really need ALL the species of snakes on the ark? It's just that Billy's looking like a drowned rat on the shore over there and I've never even had my first kiss."

FORECAST: The weather started getting rough, the tiny ship was tossed... Get ready for a cozy post-apocalyptic boat ride! Nothing like extinction to get lions and giraffes to decide to take the same cruise! If you're the giraffes, you just hope that Noah included some well-stocked concession stands in his ark design plans. These four-legged passengers are going to get hungry.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Sabotage (March 28). I was hoping this was a full-length comedy based on the Beastie Boys 1994 Sabotage video. Instead it's Agatha Christie and Arnold Schwarzenegger... together at last? Arnie plays the commander of an elite drug-enforcement squad being killed off one by one after they raid a drug cartel's safe house. The film is "loosely" based on Christie's novel And Then There Were None. The best way for me to explain this film is that the character names include Monster, Sugar, Grinder, Neck and Pyro. Enough said.




BIG EVENT: Surviving Jack (March 27, CTV/Fox, 8:30 p.m.)

BIG PICTURE: SUV's Chris Meloni (we still miss you Detective Stabler!) returns to network television to play a non-nonsense, intimidating father -- he's a doctor and ex-soldier -- who finds himself in the unfamiliar role of stay-at-home dad in the '90s. Will Jack's blunt, unorthodox parenting style keep his two teenage kids in line -- whether running interference on his son's porn-watching or changing his daughter's music tastes (Remember C&C Music Factory? Jack's not a fan). With his wife Joanne (Rachael Harris) back in law school, "parenting gets Jacked." The series is based on Justin Halpern's autobiographical book I Suck at Girls.

FORECAST: I'm a huge Meloni fan and it will be fun to see him try his hand at comic lead. But couldn't they have found him a tough guy role on Season 4 of Game of Thrones. I'd like to see that annoying, sociopathic teenage king get "Jacked." The series moves to its regular CTV timeslot on April 3 at 7:30 p.m.

HONOURABLE MENTION: Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan (March 25, 8 p.m.) In the new season, Monaghan searches for crazy, deadly species everywhere from Brazil to Thailand! (Didn't anyone learn ANYTHING from The Crocodile Hunter?) At least we know who God's go-to "Noah" will be if he decides to flood the planet again.




BIG RELEASES (March 25): The Hold Steady (Teeth Dreams), Johnny Cash (Out Among the Stars)

BIG PICTURE: The Hold Steady is back with their first effort since 2010, delivering more well crafted, guitar-driven anthemic rock. Craig Finn -- a strange hybrid of Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen and an aging hipster coffee shop barista -- leads the Brooklyn-based rockers. Finn still can't really sing, but it doesn't matter; He's an excellent half-talking ranter and delivers poignant lyrics. Meanwhile, the dearly departed Johnny Cash returns with never-released material found by his son after his death. The 12 songs were recorded in the 1980s and then shelved by Cash's label.

FORECAST: Sink your teeth in. The Hold Steady sound like vintage rockers against today's folk revival. Not everyone needs beards and banjos to make great music. As for new Johnny Cash material, I'm all in. I only hope his son unearths more musical treasures.


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 23, 2014 ??65525

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