Thursday, December 11, 2014

Going Long: Retell of Patagonik's El Arca/Noah's Ark (Repost)

This article was originally posted to a site called That Guy With The Glasses in September, 2009.  With the site being shuttered next week, and with access to materials posted there being lost with it, I'm in the slow process of transferring what I consider the best stuff I've done for the site's community blog to their new site, Channel Awesome.  This one, it seems, is too large to be moved, so I'll be posting it here instead, to preserve the work I put into it.  So, below the jump is my one and only Going Long piece: the retelling of Patagonik Films' animated feature El Arca.

El Arca or Noah’s Ark?  And: Why Furries, Anyway?
A Movie Retell and Review by Jesse Shearer, AKA JMShearer
A fan-made companion piece to El Arca (YouTube Playlist), a film produced and copyright Patagonik Films, S. A.

At the beginning of last year, if somebody had told me that there existed a movie that managed to successfully combine a Bible story and furries, I probably would have given them my standard “I’ll believe it when I see it” response.  Towards the end of January, 2008, a member of a Yahoo group I’m in posted a link to the first of ten or twelve parts of a movie called “El Arca” on YouTube.  As Yoda might put it, seen it I have, and believe it I do.

The version I saw on YouTube was dubbed and retitled “Noah’s Ark.”  Having viewed this movie several times, some parts more than others, I really should say that the biggest surprise isn’t that “El Arca/Noah’s Ark” does what it does.  It’s that it does it so well, and all while avoiding most of the potential traps that came along with these two genres of movie.  There were no obvious attempts to beat viewers to death with the religion, which is a good thing.  Sure, there was some praying involved, and God was a character, to an extent, but that’s about it.  The furry side of it could have easily drifted into porn, or more likely, become dangerously saccharine as the movie progressed, and fortunately, that didn’t really happen either.  There was some cutesy stuff along the way, as well as a little implied sex, but beyond that, nothing really.  Probably the worst stereotype was that a few of the female characters had more than their fair share of cleavage and hips wide enough to take up two seats in a theater, but in my mind, that’s really no big deal.

Basically, there are two plots to the movie, detailing one version of what went on during the forty days and forty nights that passed during the Bible’s Great Flood.  For Noah’s plot, that means a focus on the family strife.  For the animals on board the Arc, it was a power struggle as lion Prince Xiro (pronounced “zero,” jokes on that later) fights to hold his family’s claim to the throne as king of the beasts against rival tiger Dagnino.

Would I recommend seeing a legal version of this movie? Whole heartedly.  I certainly hope to eventually.  To give a feel for why, I bring you something of a comedic retelling of the movie, commencing now.  Spoilers ahead, by the way.

So, anyway, as the title scene commences, we get the movie’s logo and a montage of what I believe are the seven deadly sins: pride, envy, lust, sloth, gluttony, greed, and anger.  And it’s quite an interesting bit, too.  Nice way to start the movie, really.  The music for this sequence is good, but especially in light of how it ends, perhaps a little piece I found on called Tetris Attitude by bitium-ribbon might do better.

The scene then shifts to… well, town, I guess, where God and an angel discuss laying down the law because of all the shit that’s going down on Earth.  Now, I’m not trying to poke fun at the movie’s vision of God, but somehow, I just never pictured him as a blond guy with a goatee.  It’s a good look for the deity, of course, and an example of creating him in our own image.  For me, that means the dark-skinned fellow shown in the film, only with his locks a few shades darker as well.  But, enough of that.  Back to the movie.

The angel, all-too-conveniently named Angel, suggests a nighttime hail of brimstone and hellfire, but God has another plan to bring about the end of the world: a flood.  Maybe not Gozer, but certainly effective.

While all this is going on, Noah and his sons are bringing their grain harvest to town so they can pay off the crooked money lender Farfan and his partner.  Noah celebrates not with a Dave Ramsey-esque shout of “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”, but by allowing a slave to go free, thereby acquiring more debt.  This act of kindness inspires God, but Noah’s sons have ideas to perhaps get them out of debt permanently.  Noah, being a teacher deep down, has some nice words of wisdom.

Back at home, there is considerable strife over the freeing of the slave.  As Noah’s wife explains her position relative to all this, God contacts Noah through a pillar of light in the woods.  After the initial “Well, I think that you think that I think…” routine, and the obligatory “I’m God” line, we get down to the nuts and bolts of the story.  So, the Ark is built, the beasts are summoned two by two, and once all are aboard, the rains come for forty days and forty nights.

And this is where things start getting… a little furry.  You see, the doves that Noah attaches his messages to begin speaking almost instantly once they’re let loose.  And to top that off, they head off to an avian bar to get wasted.

One of the more unique moments, one of the ones that really makes the whole movie work for me, takes place here.   It’s an interlude where we see God and Angel working on the Bible.  Thing of it is, God’s actually got copies of other holy books with him for reference.  Maybe this God fellow isn’t so bad after all.

Anyway, back at the Birdie Bar, all but one of the doves are a few sheets to the wind, and being more than a little open about their disbelief of Noah’s message.  The one who stayed sober is pretty much the only one considering that maybe the hoo-mon isn’t entirely off his rocker.  What really makes this a surreal scene is that we get to see birds with physical features normally found in an entirely different branch of the animal family.  At this point, I must admit that I’m a furry fan, and this particular sequence left even me scratching my head and going “Esh svernde-svernde-hur? De vat da hey?” a la the Swedish Chef in the lobster sketch.

As the majority of the flock of doves parties on at the bar, the one who isn’t getting pickled takes it upon himself to go deliver Noah’s messages on his own.  The dove’s flight sequence really reminds me of a cross between the last scene of Back to the Future where Doc Brown and Marty go flying off in the De Lorien to rescue Marty’s kids and the scene in Star Trek Generations where the Enterprise D’s saucer section crash-lands on Veridian as part of the climax.  As for flying music, I think either Electric de Chocobo or Save Them do quite well as alternate scores for the scene.

Our feathered friend ends his flight by running headlong into a window shutter as it’s being closed.  Inside the structure that the window is a part of, there is an orangutan performing a little spa therapy on a feline customer of some sort, presumably a lion.  Now, there are some absolutely vicious stereotypes that come to mind here, but I’d like to think that I’m a better person than to play to them.

After the brief look into the massage parlor, we find that the dove has come to rest at the feet of a lovely lioness by the name of Kairel, who picks him up, finds Noah’s letter, and goes off to tell the king of the beasts what’s going on.  Already, Kairel’s my kind of woman.  She’s got the noggin to figure shit out for herself, the salts to do something about problems, and a damn nice booty to top it all off.

One thing I might not have mentioned earlier is that this movie was originally produced in South America, by an Argentinean company by the name of Patagonik, to be exact.  With that in mind, I have to say that I can’t really be certain what exactly it was the producers were trying to have happen in the day spa we met Kairel passing.  Character development, I would figure.  It turns out that the orangutan goes by Bombay; the lion, as luck would have it, is Prince Xiro.  I’d be able to reconcile myself with the implications of this scene a good deal easier if they hadn’t been slathered on so thick.  To quote Bombay to Xiro: “I’ll be back in a minute… DARLING!”  So, not only am I consciously reminding myself that I’m probably not really seeing what I think I’m seeing, but my own pancreas is trying to punch me in the nuts for exposing it to such a concentration of attempted cute.  The good news is that this is really only an isolated thing in this movie, only coming up on a handful of other occasions.

Anyway, as the scene progresses, Xiro finds the half of Noah’s message that made it into Bombay’s shop.  Upon reading it, Xiro actually thinks this is an ad for a pleasure cruise for couples and goes dashing off to find a date and pack his bags.  This is pretty much our hero, ladies and gents.  But fortunately, things do indeed get better before the end.

Meanwhile, Kairel and the King and Queen of the Beasts are in the elders’ chamber, reading the message to the elders.  It was interesting to see just how Noah’s message was phrased here.  Kairel’s reaction shots are nice, but I’m not sure if it’s just that she’s putting on an act for the royals or if it’s because she legitimately didn’t read the letter beforehand.  I want to think she’s putting on a show, so I’ll go with that.

Xiro comes in and insists upon being the male lion on the Ark.  Kairel, at first thinking she’s being chosen as his mate, is charged with finding a mate for Xiro from his swarm of girlfriends.  Well, Kairel, my advice would be to do it and forget the airhead to the throne, because I’m a lion, too, after all, who’s single, and to take Mister Data slightly out of context, I’m fully functional.

All the while, Noah’s been working away at getting the Ark built so it can be ready before the flood comes.  His wife, of course, is concerned for him, perhaps because she and I may very well have similar views of the particular god involved.

As all the animals gather at the King’s palace to hear the announcement, we’re treated to the gripings of a pair of polar bears making their way through the tropics.  The King and Queen share a Yoda moment, as the King hopes, as all fathers do, that his son measures up to the tasks before him.  The Queen tells him to have faith in the boy.  “Sabu, trust the Force, you must.”

Xiro, meanwhile, is in his room, getting all packed for the trip, with a little help from Bombay.  The discussion turns to who their mates for the voyage will be.  Xiro hasn’t heard who he’ll be with.  Bombay introduces us to his companion Lilly. Lilly is basically Alice the Goon of Popeye fame. I don’t quite see the appeal.  But then again, what do I know?  After all, I’m a human.  Or a lion, depending on what you want to believe.

Anyway, the meeting of all the beasts comes to order, and another of the moments that really makes the movie work for me happens.  The King says that they’ve finally heard from the one animal that’s completely failed as a citizen of the kingdom: man, or the human, as some might say.  We Homo Sapiens, after all, are animals, too, at least in the biological sense, even if we do suck at citizenship.

During the crowd scene as the speech goes on, we see the villains of the furry plot.  Pay close attention to the shot of the two tigers and the panther, because I have a feeling we may not see one of those characters again.

There are, of course, dissenters to the idea of boarding Noah’s Ark, in the form of three creatures generally considered mythical today: a unicorn, a dragon, and a yeti.  These three voice the opinion that this whole thing is a trap.  Perhaps the unicorn’s name is Akbar.  After making their all-too-legitimate concerns known, these three storm out after hecklers in the crowd suggest that they’re getting all worked up over nothing.  The King sagely suggests that boarding the Ark is optional, and being there is up to each individual pair of animals.  Unfortunately, we won’t be seeing any unicorns, dragons, or yetis on the Ark.

At the conclusion of the speech, the animals, with the exceptions noted above, rally and set course for their appointment with fate.  We also get acquainted with Dagnino the tiger for the first time, as he compliments the King on his continued efficacy at inspiring his subjects and inquires towards who will be representing the lions on the Ark.  That’s right, folks.  It’s good old Xiro and his yet to be determined mate.

Xiro, of course, is upset because none of the girlfriends he would have picked were actually chosen to go on the Ark with him.  Dagnino points out that this whole “end of the world” thing would be a perfect opportunity for somebody to topple the current monarchy, and fortunately, he’s just slick enough to play a role in such a fall.

Back at the Ark, Noah and his wife think their sons are helping prep the nav charts, but they’re actually plotting to stick him in an old folks’ home.  Good luck with that, boys.

As that’s going on, Xiro explains to his folks just why none of his girlfriends get to come with him.  Short version: they’re all floozies of one sort or another.  Of course, it doesn’t help that Kairel was in charge of making that list, and since she inexplicably has the hots for the guy, is therefore the only acceptable choice.  Naturally, Xiro’s kinda pissed about not getting his bimbo for what he thinks is a pleasure cruise, but what was he expecting?  The list was made by the only lioness his age that he hasn’t done at least twice, and she wants her piece of the action.  But, he insists on taking one of the floozies anyway and storms out.  “Faith you must have, Sabu.  Do well, your son will, when the time comes,” quoth the Queen.

At this point, we see Farfan and his partner on their way to take possession of Noah’s old property, which he had traded for the doves.  I think these two are secretly Feringi or something, because from pretty much here on out, they’re going to spend most of their time trying to be greedy but getting owned rather badly instead.

Also headed in Noah’s general direction are the pairs of beasts.  Xiro and his floozie, of course, are riding in a royal cab, carried by a polar bear and a gorilla.  Kairel is along, too, having been assigned the task of making sure Xiro actually gets on the boat.  In the process, she butts in as Xiro and his companion are getting busy.  If the plot didn’t require otherwise, I seriously doubt there would have been much need for Kairel to even be there, as neither Xiro nor his bed buddy would likely have figured anything out until it was too late.  Xiro and friend get on Kairel about the whole “couples” deal, much to the irritation of the latter.  If it would have been possible, I would have taken the opportunity to take advantage of the situation, suggesting that we make it a pair of pairs and find a loophole.  The situation, as presented, however, leads to an exchange of insults, at the end of which, Kairel suggests that the happy couple get with it.  I could have sworn that they were getting with it before she interrupted.

About this time, Noah wraps up work on the Ark.  The technical specs on this thing are really something else.  Noah gives a brief overview, but I’ll just say that there’s plenty of room for all aboard.  Beyond that, I think I’ll just wait for the official tech manual.  One of Noah’s sons suggests that it was all for naught because the animals aren’t coming.  Fortunately for all, Field of Dreams was several centuries in the future, so here’s the inspiration for the famous “If you build it, they will come” line.  So, cue the beasts.

As the creatures of the Earth and Air approach, the younger members of Noah’s family become nervous about sharing the boat with the animals.  What really fouls things up, though, is sort of a "now they think of it” sort of thing, in that the herbivores are suddenly nervous that the predatory species will eat them once the voyage begins.  Sure, now they think of that, a half hour before they’re all supposed to be on the boat.  So, the whole convoy just stops dead in its tracks, about a hundred yards from the Ark to work things out.  The suggestion they go for is to ask Xiro how they should proceed.  Noah’s family is confused as to just what’s going on, and understandably so.  Even I would have expected some bumps in the boarding process, but not necessarily that.

Anyway, the beasts ask Xiro if they’d be allowed to use one another for food.  Unfortunately, the poor boy lives up to his name, and after a little post-jiggy stammering, pretty much asks the animals themselves what they’d do.  With that, it falls to Dagnino to provide the solution: getting along, at least while they’re all stuck on the boat.  That’s certainly one way of dealing with it, but I’m not sure if the source is one I’d trust.

With that, Noah approaches and welcomes them all to the Ark.  Unfortunately, there’s some rule about the beasts not talking to humans, so nobody gets to say “Thank you sir,” or anything of the sort. What’s worse is that none of the animals move, either, so Noah asks for a sign.  That sign comes in the form of the first drops of the flood falling from the skies above.  My question here is whether or not it was really necessary to use the toilet sound effect to signal the start of the flood.  I mean, I know the world is supposed to be in the cosmic crapper and all, but really.

When the rain starts, the beasts pretty much all trample poor old Noah in the mad rush to board the Ark before the flood starts for real.  Of course, now’s the time for Kairel to delay Xiro slightly with her dire and ominous warning about Dagnino, saying that he’s probably not all that he suddenly seems to be beneath the greasy fog that surrounds him.  Xiro, by nature, is too eager to begin his pleasure cruise, and just heads off to board the boat without really listening.  Noah, finally out from under all the hooves and feet, sees the one decent messenger pigeon he traded for, and helps it aboard as well.

The boarding scene is fairly standard, much like the ones in Titanic or The Poseidon Adventure. The only really notable thing here is that Kairel is forced into the position of Plot Number Two’s heroine when Little Miss Bimbo is apparently killed in a freak accident.  Sure, it happens by way of a fat joke, but I’ll take it because it removed one of the most annoying characters at just about the time she was due to expire for other reasons anyway.  One thing I don’t quite get here is that Kairel is actually consciously trying to say no when she’s practically hand-picked by God for the task of being the mother of her species’ future.  Seriously, her choices are essentially to either spend eternity with the guy she’s been swooning over for years or commit suicide and she’s picking the suicide option?

And then we have to deal with Farfan and his cohort.  As the miserable comic duo prepares to settle into Noah’s old place, they laugh for a moment about the fact that eight people lived in the tiny dwelling.  It must have driven him nuts, they muse.  Nuts enough to build a ship the size of a city in the middle of a desert, because surely for such a thing to be rational, it would have to rain enough to flood the whole of the world.  As sure as E-Type beat Toy-Box to the song “Russian Lullaby”, the sea comes rolling in, the stars are shining clear, the ghosts are howling near, and these two know they must get aboard the Ark.

Back aboard the Ark, Noah’s family is surprised that there’s more than enough water to float the boat.  Unfortunately, the dry dock moorings that had served so well while the area was still desert don’t seem to have an automated release setting, which means not all the ropes break as planned, and the Ark nearly sinks before the voyage even really begins.  Fortunately, Noah and Sons do have knives with them, and slash away until everything is clear.  I can’t recall that many scenes of characters getting tossed around in such a short span of time since the last time I watched Star Trek 6.  All the while Farfan and mate are approaching on a raft and begging to be let aboard.  With the initial harrowing moments out of the way, the Voyage of Forty Days and Forty Nights begins.  As the scene ends, we bid bon voyage to the dragon, the unicorn, and the yeti, who admit to each other that yeah, they screwed up by not getting on the boat.

Down in stowage, Kairel tries to get the beasts squared away and into proper quarters for their stay on the Ark.  Unfortunately, things aren’t going so well, and Xiro, dunderhead that he is, only makes things worse by proclaiming that the cabins are open to whoever manages to dibs them first.  As the resulting chaos clears, Dagnino points out that there may be a few problems with discipline along the way.  As I write this review, I notice that Dag’s mate is still with him.  I thought for sure she was gone by this point, but now I wonder just how wrong I was.

Once the clamor dies down, Kairel goes around assessing the situation and not liking what she sees.  The whole thing really reminds me of the dorm I lived in while I was working on my bachelors’ degree.  Really a bizarre place, but surprisingly orderly, all things considered.  In fact, I think I may even be in there someplace, taking the opportunity to not flirt with somebody that obviously needs a little attention.  Fortunately, Xiro is there to fill in the gap for me and invites her into “his” room, where they discuss the situation, beginning with how it’s actually THEIR room.  Sadly, Xiro gets a little shy at this point, and starts floundering badly as he attempts to avoid dealing with it.  I understand completely.  I’m there, with thirty years’ experience.  Kairel explains that the problem here is that Xiro’s not looking at the big picture, not doing what needs to be done for the greater good.  Again, it’s something I’ve got a lifetime’s worth of experience at, although I don’t think I’ve ever managed to be quite as wrong about something as shown here.  Kairel tries to explain things to him and offers him a seat on the bed next to her.  Admittedly, I’m something of a wuss myself in situations like that, but I think I could have lasted a good thirty seconds longer than our supposed hero.  Xiro bolts the scene, on the premise of doing his own walkthrough of the ship.

The Ark has a section something like a cross between Babylon 5’s Zocalo and Star Trek: the Next Generation’s Ten Forward, and it seems this is actually where our furry feline hero was headed when he left his quarters.  We’re introduced to an establishment called The Dive, where we join a witty standup act by Pity the Parrot, already in progress.  From the sounds of the act, I really do pity this parrot, whose lines thus far have been limited to two- and three-word phrases such as “The rain!”  After a courtesy laugh and a bit of mistaken encouragement from the audience, Bombay comes out and stops the act to introduce us to a sexy female panther by the name of, yes, Panty.  Turns out, she’s kinda evil, but with a name like that, who wouldn’t be?  Anyway, Panty sings us a little ditty apparently entitled “I Will Survive,” about how things will be different in the post-apocalyptic world order.  Didn’t Gloria Gaynor do a song like this back in the 70s?  At any rate, the version we’re treated to here seems to be about this lovely thing satisfying at least one appetite.  I know I wouldn’t be the only volunteer for that task, but I think my 8-Bit Theater impressions are sufficient to give me a fighting chance, especially if I can work out the physics of using my shotgun as a sidearm.

When the scene shifts to “The Dive” later that evening, either the patrons, and the audience, for that matter, have either been spared the further observations of Pity, or Panty was a difficult act to follow, as we see Xiro and barmates reliving her act.  Meanwhile, Dagnino and his cohorts discuss just taking out their rivals where they sit.  Fortunately, the Big D is a better politician than that, and suggests using the respect they, or at least he, has earned amongst the other creatures to get the job done.  The wolf in the party is at least forward-thinking enough to realize that as cunning as his master’s plan may be, it’s not going to succeed, even with their supposed respect, as Xiro’s still the more popular ruler.  Fairness and all, you see.

Over at the new king’s table, the discussion is basically to the end of if at first one does not succeed, try, try again.  And goofing around with levers.  Dag comes over to invite the lion over for a drink, succeeding with a little help from the sultry kitty that is Panty.

A few hours later, presumably, Kairel, who had apparently hopped into bed for a little shuteye, rolls over and notices that Xiro isn’t back yet, so she goes off to investigate.  With a look that would indicate she knows exactly where to go, Kairel heads off for Downbelow, not even noticing Farfan and his companion, who have somehow gained access to the ship’s interior.  Just how Kairel knows what she seems to know is beyond me.  It does, however, prove my assessment from the beginning of the movie.  This rather ample fur fem is no dunce.  I like that.

One thing I should point out here is that this movie makes good use of little vignettes that update us on what characters outside the focus of a given scene are doing.  Previously, I’ve made mention of them, but from here on, I won’t unless something cool or especially relevant to one of the plots happens in one of them.  I seem to be going longer than I thought I would, and I don’t want to spoil every little joke along the way.

Anyway, after their near miss with Kairel, our devious human duo finds their way to the Ark’s reptile habitat.  The ship’s Reptile Gardens, you might say.  Their encounter with some rather dangerous looking snakes sets up a very nice “Run the hell away!” joke.  Did we see it coming?  You decide.

Back in Ten Forward, Kairel walks in to find that Xiro’s drunk and just about everybody else at his table is just plain pissed.  As the scene progresses from an obligatory “It’s green” joke, I can just hear Dan Akroid, in his Ghostbusters days, delivering a “Complete and utter chaos” line as it’s demonstrated just how much a few shots of booze has influenced the young king to authorize.

On the way back to their quarters, Kairel and Xiro have a conversation reminiscent of one I’ve had with my parents on more than one occasion, and I would hope everyone else has, too.  I know that Kairel only has everyone’s best interests in mind here, but being Little Miss Obsessive-Compulsive about sticking to one unchanging plan and not accepting anything less than 110% all the time just doesn’t work.  On the other side of the spectrum is Xiro, who is at least open to other options.  Unfortunately, he’s open to *every other* option that’s presented to him, and doesn’t seem to be culling any of them before trying them, therefore coming across as a clueless bastard without a plan.  I can only hope I never came across as that much of a fucktard to my parents, and that if I did, I can possibly find some way of making it up to them and anyone else I may have affected.  As the scene ends, Xiro’s got that classic look of knowing that he’s screwed up bigtime, and for once is legitimately clueless as to how he’s going to go about fixing it.

Those vignettes I mentioned earlier?  One worth mentioning happens here.  Even though we only get to see the humans griping about having “fish and salad for lunch again,” it’ll be important shortly.  Worth the groaner at the end?  Maybe.  We’ll see.

Another such short scene involves Farfan and his partner making animal costumes for themselves.  Here we are, halfway through the movie, and I’m just now noticing that I can’t ever recall hearing the female half of this duo’s name.  And for that matter, what exactly is their relationship?  Is she Farfan’s wife?  His girlfriend?  Just a female friend?  At any rate, she finishes stitching up Farfan’s costume and tells him to shut up and put it on.  I agree whole heartedly.  Seeing this guy in his skivvies is a sight I’m not sure I wanted, but on the other hand, it’s not his companion in that state, either.

Meanwhile, in Bombay’s temporary shop, Xiro gets a backrub and shows that maybe he’s not the moron I’ve been giving him credit for being thus far.  As the king and his orangutan friend decide that the lion knows what he must do, a female goose sticks her head in and asks if her mate is around.  This, too, will be important next time we see Noah and crew.  So, it’s back to his quarters for Xiro, where he wakes an obviously exhausted Kairel so they can get down to the business of making right some of the things that he’d done wrong.

As that’s going down, Farfan and his cohort debate naming the creatures they’re dressed up as.  He says they need to, she disagrees.  Turns out, he’s right, as they encounter Dagnino and his team of nasties plotting to frame Xiro for eating one of the other animals.  With a name like “grasswhumpers,” they’re almost begging to get eaten.  Aside from the silly name our misguided human friends come up with for their disguises, what stands out for me is that our buddy Dag’s mate seems to have vanished from the party.  On top of that, I realize now that I don’t recall having seen her in the bar scene a few moments earlier, either.  It’s not an especially important thing, really, but I do wonder if the tigress will be back now that I’m actually looking for her.

Anyway, the little happenstance encounter between The Nasties (which is what I think I’ll start calling Dagnino’s team now) and Farfan and Mate pretty much sets up who’s going to get “eaten” in the plot to frame Xiro.  As this scene ends, said plot kicks into full swing.  All the Nasties need to do now is find a way to “vanish” one of the creatures Farfan and mate are pretending to be and make it look like the king is to blame.

Up on the main deck, it seems that one of the younger wives has gotten her hands on the gander that had gone missing earlier.  Noah, who’s been without his glasses since boarding the Ark, sees her getting ready to cook the gander’s goose and somehow manages to save the fowl’s neck.  Speaking as someone who’s actually almost blind without glasses himself, I’m amazed at how well Noah seemed to see what was going down and managed to do what he did so well.  And he delivers another moral, too.

Back with our furry friends, Xiro and Kairel are busy taking suggestions from the other animals.  It’s boring as all getout, and obviously way too much for the king.  If I didn’t know any better, I’d think they were setting something up.  After about five solid hours of this, Xiro finally passes out.

Noah’s family, too, has been mostly work and oh so very little play since all this began, and the younger generation is griping about this.  Now, there’s definitely a little stereotyping going on here, because the larger part of the griping thus far has come from the wives.  Noah says it’s what the almighty wants, and that’s all there is to it.  One of the wives wants to take over before the cruise becomes a nightmare.  Too late for that, I think.

In the animals’ mess hall, Dagnino tells his Nasties that it’s time to act, as the other animals are all at wits’ end with the trip.  While they all take their places and get their tools ready, Xiro and Kairel are really starting to show signs of needing a break.  Cue trouble in the form of Panty.  If there was ever a time for Xiro to pull even a tiny amount of tact out of his ass, this would be it.  Unfortunately, he fails completely and goes dashing off before he can receive the kick in the nuts Kairel so richly deserves to give him.  What’s worse is that the tactless exit wasn’t bad enough.  The seduction Panty’s laying on is so thick I actually had to go get something to drink after, just to wash the sugar taste out of my mouth.  Kairel overhears the end of the conversation and hits Xiro with as much of his own stuff as she can throw in ten seconds.  The “I break-a you face!” line really helps lead into the tongue lashing, too.

Tragically, said justified tirade begins with something of a non seqiter.  I’ve listened to the exact line a few times, trying to rewrite it, in a manner of speaking, so it comes across a little more clearly.   Clumsy translation aside, the gist of what Kairel’s saying is that Xiro’s come to the king’s quarters as a common womanizer, unfit for the duties expected of him.

From there, we move on to Farfan and Mate attempting to perform a scene from one of the Classic Star Wars trilogy, attempting to hide in the garbage to escape the bowels of the Ark.  Although this plan backfires just as badly as the others these two have tried, it works out well for Dag and the Nasties, allowing them to conveniently “find” a corpse for Xiro to have been gnawing on.  As this failure, so to speak, is taking place, Bombay and Xiro further discuss that the latter knows, in his heart, what he must do.

After a hearty, if drawn out, poop joke, our duo of wanna-be Ferengi finally makes it to the main deck of the Ark.  I’ve heard of getting dumped on, but wow.  Tragically, this bit of good luck runs out on them, as Noah and crew think Farfan and mate are animals and, after briefly trying to use them as food, force them back to the hold.  On top of that, Noah is also affected by the same misfortune and falls into the hold with them.  The rescue attempt his family mounts essentially ends with “Oh, wait, there are monsters down there.  Oh well, we’re boned.  Who gets to take the helm now?”  As the sons run off, that one brave little dove we’ve seen here and there throughout the movie goes in to look, apparently forgetting how to fly right off the bat.

Down in the hold, it turns out that the three human residents are alive and comparatively well, all things considered.  At this point, we find that Farfan’s partner does indeed have a name: Ester.  Earlier on, I made mention that I didn’t recall having heard that bit of information before.  Turns out, at least as far as I can tell, we don’t actually get to hear Ester’s name until now.  I went back and specifically tried to see if there was a scene before this one with her name in it, but no such luck.  Kinda odd, in my view, but there you go.

Anyway, after trapping Noah at the bottom of the ship, Farfan and Ester make their way through the beasts, Farfan bragging all the way about how humans are smarter than the animals.  Now Ester’s getting all panicked, worried that the animals might take offense to what’s being said.  After smacking Dagnino square in the behind, Farfan comes to his senses and pretty much does another “Run the hell away!” bit, this time losing roughly half his costume to Dagnino.  The tiger says he has what he needs for the time being and promises to actually kill these two humans later.  OK, does Dagnino not notice that one of the animals he’s being cooped up with just got skinned alive and ran away apparently unharmed and not even bleeding?  As a hunter myself, I tend to notice when I shoot something and it doesn’t die the way it’s supposed to, but then again, maybe that’s because I’m a human.

Meanwhile, Xiro has decided that he needs to break things off with Panty.  He’s going in alone, before having said anything to Kairel, which somehow eliminates any and all help, including that which his close personal friend Bombay might have been able to arrange for him.  Naturally, things go badly for him, and he gets his furry feline hinder locked up on murder and assault charges.  Again, our villains are relying on things going unseen that a person would think somebody would have to notice otherwise.  I guess Panty’s screams of bloody murder expertly serve their purpose as distractions.

As Dag’s men toss Xiro in the brig on a trumped-up charge of murder, the tiger pretty much gives away his entire plan, which is entirely too typical for the villain type.  As he does so, Panty joins him, and I notice she’s done an astounding job of cleaning herself up, given the apparent speed at which it happened and amount of tomato sauce it must have taken to so fully cover that remarkably ample chest of hers.  Yes, I look at that sort of thing.  Moving on, Xiro pleads the truth and insists that he’s innocent.  One of the Nasties, apparently named Wolfgang, starts having second thoughts about locking the good monarch up.  I wish I could say that would be important later, but with as screwy as things start getting at this point in the movie, there’s no betting on it.  After the cell has been sealed, as we all knew it would be, Dagnino gloats while Xiro is Hayden Christensen as James T. Kirk in Star Trek 2: Revenge of the Sith.

Up in the Royal Quarters, Bombay and a few of the other animals are having something of a “trust the Force/Mister Rogers” moment with Kairel, as they try to convince her of the hoax they all saw.  Bombay tosses Kairel a bit of the rags Farfan had been wearing, and tells her to feel her way through it.  After taking a whiff of the item, it looks like she feels more than a little surprise.  I’m not sure which the stronger scent would be: the tomato sauce, the dung, or the human B. O. that Farfan certainly must have.

About this time, all those aboard the Ark are starting to notice the cold, as the ship has found its way to the Antarctic, thanks in part to a nicely done in-period version of a Starfleet Exploding Console up on the main bridge that took out helm control.  Noah’s family finally remembers that they have faith and begins praying for salvation.  A noticeably, and understandably, I might add, miffed God has Angel put a spotlight on Noah, who just happens to be resting on a vent one deck above Xiro’s cell as he climbs out of the hold.  As the light shines down on Noah and his pigeon, it also puts a spot on Xiro.  This works out rather nicely, because Xiro hears Noah’s “You helped us get this far, now help us finish this” speech to the bird and thinks it’s the voice of his heritage telling him to go for the gold, to be Doctor Sam Beckett and put right what just went wrong.  Cue the Climactic Battle amongst the animals.

To start things off, Kairel and the others come along to bust Xiro out of the klink so they can go fight the bad guys.  I can’t help but recall the scene in Star Trek 5 where Scotty breaks Kirk, Spock, and McCoy out of the brig.  If this hadn’t been Xiro I was talking about here, I’d say I was surprised that he didn’t get his “lineage’s” clue to S-T-A-N-D B-A-C-K, but then, the little sot did kinda deserve to get hit with the door, too.

For this part, I’ll be suggesting alternate music to go in place of what’s heard in the actual movie.  So, to start things off, Dag and his Nasties hit the herbivores with an Ambush Attack!  As this is going on, there are indications that there will be divine intervention.  Unfortunately, this is not to come before our heroes show up and perform a dance routine from a Backstreet Boys video done to the tune of Witch Doctor by Cartoons.  Oh EE Oh Ah Ah Ting Tang Walla Walla Bing Bang.

Anyway, things get serious when the Fighting starts.  From the looks of things, though, it’s more like a football game.  Go Jacks!  No, wait, I don’t want to make fun of my alma mater that way.  Let’s see, a better team to root for here would be… Go Vikings!  Minnesota rules!  After a bit of a melee, it’s down to Xiro and Dagnino.  It’s a “one-hit kill” of sorts for the Big D, who takes the king down with one punch.  Kairel wants to know if the tiger will kick her man while he’s down.  Good idea, honey.  Give the villain ideas.

It would seem, however, that between getting clobbered by that door earlier and then by Dagnino here, at least one testicle has been shaken loose and a few brain cells have been jarred into action for Xiro, who manages to get off a damn good shot after being offered sloppy seconds on his own woman.  You’d think with a setup like that, we’d get to see a decent round two.

Sadly, such is not the case, as the Ark itself seems to have turned into Doctor Who’s TARDIS, and has conveniently run itself aground on a snow-covered surface just as Dag and his Nasties charge in for Still More Fighting, which sends everyone flying again.  This time, however, our gallant villains wind up with their heads smashed through a convenient bulkhead.  The fight is over, the day is saved, and our king has learned his lesson.

Getting to see Xiro prove himself does prove better than the fight scene, although, along the way, I begin to wonder if something happened to this part of the script and/or movie at some point in the course of production.  The whole speech about how Xiro screwed up and got the animals where they were by failing to lead properly but was now ready to step up and be a man, as it were, about it, so let’s work together on this one comes across rather well.  So does the scene where Angel finally convinces God that everybody’s learned their lesson and stops the precipitation, which has changed to snow at the pole.

After that, though, I really begin to wonder if something major didn’t happen to the end of this movie late in production or in post-production.  As I said at the beginning of the review, I give them aces for not cramming a Bible down my throat or something, and I can’t say that I’m surprised by the fact that this whole thing didn’t end on Mount Ararat, with the Dove getting sent out every week until it just never returns, given the general nature of this movie.  What we see, however, is the best alternative they could come up with.  Or, at least that’s the assumption, as it made the final cut of the movie, which really says something.

So, the action continues, after the brilliant speech from King Xiro, with all the animals getting off the Ark in Antarctica.  You read that right.  All the animals get off the boat in Antarctica.  And they’ve even got a hippo singing opera to them as they go!

Up on the main bridge, Noah’s family takes notice of that not only has it stopped raining, or, well, snowing, considering where they are, but that the animals are leaving as well.  One of the sons wonders just what the hell’s going on with that.  I only wish I had an answer for him.  Just about then, Noah himself finally escapes from the lower regions of the ship and suggests to his family that they repair the rudder controls.

Once that repair is complete, the men check on the animals again, to see that not only have the beasts acquired fire and material for torches somehow, they are unloading barrels of tar or gunpowder or something, and placing mass quantities beneath the bow of the Ark.  Again, there is curiosity as to just what’s going on here.  Given the flammable, if not downright explosive nature of what’s being placed beneath and around this massive marine vehicle, one can only assume that these creatures aim to cause an explosion, which will either destroy the boat or set it afloat again.

After exchanging a knowing glance with Xiro, Noah informs his family that they’re about to set sail again and someone needs to take the helm.  So, Noah knows what’s going on down there, and he’s not at all worried about the beasts sinking him?  He does know they’ve just packed the underside of his boat with enough gunpowder to take out a small building, right?

But silly me, it turns out that the beasts were actually using whatever material that was to melt the ice and give the Ark, somehow up on the ice a goodly ways now, a path to open water, at which point the Ark sails away, apparently occupied only by Noah, his family, and Farfan and Esther, who quickly jump ship.

Wait, something’s not right here, and I don’t mean that Farfan and Esther would be dumb enough to jump off the boat at this point.  By now, it’s been established that yes, they are more than dumb enough to do that.  While I’m thinking this over, let’s see how many different kinds of animals are giving the Ark a fond farewell.  Let’s see, there’s polar bears, there’s seals, there’s wolves, there’s doves…

Hold a tic, wolves and doves?  The polar bears and seals make sense, being adapted for such climates.  But the wolves and doves?  Don’t think so.  The polar bears suddenly look as confused by all of this as I do.  Turns out, though, that’s only because they see the “grasswhumpers” and decide it’s time to eat.  Esther wants Farfan to remind her to kill him if they survive the hunt.  Won’t be a problem.  Those Antarctic nights can be awful cold, from what I understand.

On the Ark, Noah and family set course for the setting sun, this time all in agreement on how to run things.  It even seems that the bubbleheaded wife who didn’t know where the sun sets at night has learned a thing or two since earlier in the movie.  And of course, how could they end this part of the story without the dove?  Sure, he’s got his olive branch, but still shit for luck.

The movie wraps up with the beasts having a cabana party.  At first, I thought this was taking place in Antarctica, on land, but while I was working on the final edit of this review, I realized that this part was actually taking place on the Ark.  By this point, I’d been working on this review on and off for almost a year and a half, rewatching this part of the movie as part of that.  It took me a year and a half and a good dozen viewings of this particular part of the movie to figure out where the party was.  For me, this just proves that something went FUBAR with the end of this movie.  After all, the producers made such a big deal of the animals getting off the boat that it came as something of a surprise that the re-boarding sequence was so understated.  I’m not really sure who to fault for the fact that such a scene wasn't more dramatic, because by the time it showed up on YouTube, I’m sure it had been through way more hands than necessary.  I don’t want to say it’s Patagonik’s fault, because as previously mentioned, there’s the “many hands” effect, and it’s not like editors have never butchered an author’s or artist’s work.  Then again, those same editors can only work with what they’re given, and are unable to take out something that’s not there to begin with.

With all that in mind, why not have an “El Arca 2” or a “Noah’s Ark: the Continuation?”  The folks at Patagonik certainly gave themselves enough to work with in that respect, even if they leave the Bible out of it, although having it in there would certainly make it more interesting, even with my decidedly limited familiarity with that particular book.

And just what is there to be worked with?  Well, the villains are still alive, although with their heads still rammed through that bulkhead.  Panty, having been the only one of that lot left with full mobility, even seems to be rather enjoying the opportunity to do some cage dancing that’s been given her.  Xiro and Kairel start a conga line before heading off for a little nookie.  I would suspect that most of the animals wound up with a little of that.  Noah and his family are still floating around in the Ark with all the other creatures at the end of the movie.  God and Angel are still working on the Bible as the credits roll, and there is, of course, still the matter of Farfan and Esther, who were last seen being chased off by polar bears.

All in all, this was a pretty good move, in spite of the goofball ending.  It went down a lot of roads that could have led to disaster, but didn’t even really stumble until the ending came along.  I must say, I enjoyed the experience and would very much like to see a version where I can actually read the end credits.  I walked away feeling that I’d just seen a good movie for the first time in months, feeling only that people who see this one deserve a sequel or a part two or something.  Lots of interesting characters, a good storyline, and the potential for more.  Gotta love it.  Here’s to more, Patagonik Films!

And now, for something from my “Mystery Science Theater” fanfiction days:  IT’S CREDITS TIME!

Exit Theme #1: Viva Piñata End-game theme

Movies, Television and Radio:
El Arca/Noah’s Arc: Patagonik Films, S.A.
Star Trek: Paramount
Star Wars: George Lucas
Swedish Chef/The Muppet Show: Jim Henson
The Dave Ramsey Show: Dave Ramsey
Back to the Future: Universal Studios
Popeye: King Features
Field of Dreams: Universal Studios
Titanic: Twentieth Century-Fox; Paramount
Poseidon Adventure: Twentieth Century-Fox; Kent productions
Ghostbusters: Columbia Pictures
Quantum Leap: Belsaurius
Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Family Communications & WQED
Babylon 5: Warner Brothers/J. Michael Stracynski
Doctor Who: BBC

Exit Theme #2: Rainbow Connection

Comics and Video Games
Popeye: King Features
8-Bit Theater: Brian Clevenger
Final Fantasy: Squaresoft/Square-Enix
Viva Piñata: RARE Software
Tetris: Various

Exit Theme #3: Turbo Polka


Final Fantasy Battle Themes: Noubuo Uematsu; Squaresoft
Viva Piñata End Theme: RARE; Microsoft
Russian Lullabye #1: E-Type
Russian Lullabye #2: Toy-Box
Turbo Polka: Atomik Harmonik
Larger Than Life: Backstreet Boys
Rainbow Connection: Sarah McLachlan
Witch Doctor: Cartoons

Thank You

Mom and Dad (editing)
Captainleo (posting video)
Jason M (bringing to attention)

And let's end with a few thoughts from Statler and Waldorf of Muppet Show fame.

JMShearer's Email:


As this piece is a little more than five years old at this point, many of the links within are dead for one reason or another.  They have been preserved for the sake of some accuracy within.

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