Please note this review is riddled with spoilers… however you may not care.
I went to see Noah last night with a group of guys. When I originally saw the trailer I remember thinking “wow… that’s kinda interesting… Russell crow doesn’t look 600 years old…I’ll wait for redbox”. Then blog after blog of Christians condemning the film before even seeing it made me automatically want to go check out the film. Some may see that as wrong motives, but I am convinced the church is great at condemning things that they haven’t seen first or researched. This “judgement” even extends to one denomination badmouthing another. We are notorious for it.
And so… I went. I went in with hopes. Either this film was amazing and I could see what all the concern was or it was horrible and I could see what all the concern was.
What I got was mediocre and I walked out thinking. “Wow…I am sure the church has something better to do than complain about this lame film”. No before you jump all over me let me just explain that. Nothing is more dangerous to the Faith than another sect preaching something that is so close to the truth that it is hard to tell the difference and you can get easily duped. It makes absolute sense that the christian church needs to make real clear where they differ from the counterfeits like new age, Mormon etc. Many were concerned this film would teach people untruths about God and the Genesis story, even though we have very little info not only about the noah story but also how creation began. This film however takes huge fantastical leaps towards “The Neverending Story”, but with computers that did worse graphics than the puppets that film used, that I am convinced anybody that sees it will think. “there is no way that was in the bible… let me me go read Genesis” or “what the heck was that… I want my $9.25 back”.
I have rules with christian or bible story films:
1. If they are claiming it is a good adaptation of a bible story and accurate as best they could… It will be horrible and it won’t be accurate and possibly too close that it will confuse people. In addition it may have kirk cameron or a sound track from nickleback so I can’t watch it.
2. You want to take a bible based story and attempt to keep the core truths and internal struggles while layering over a fantastical backdrop? I will give this a watch and see if it is good.
I think of my favorite play Godspell, written by a jewish man, about the book of matthew which is brilliant. Then there is my other favorite, Jesus Christ Superstar, which is written about the rise and fall of a rockstar through the story of Jesus. In that film and play we see a story that has the roman soldiers with machine guns and a hippy bus that the disciples are standing on. There are moments in the film where I know what andrew loyd webber was trying to illustrate and yet gave me such huge insight into the heart of my savior.
There are films like 10 commandments, left behind, and 500 1980′s mark of the beast films that get a green card from christians even though they are not only off biblically, but also illustrate in some cases end times theology that can be at best called “theory”. Not sure why films like that get a free pass.
Back to noah… So you can get in my mind as a you read this review, you need to know that I am a geek, scifi nerd, steampunk fanatic, and used to draw comics books for a few studios and role playing companies. I say this because I am looking at this film through that lens and it may be a very different lens than you have, but it is a very cool one!
The movie begins with what looks like crappy hand drawings and techno color weirdness. It has these comic book inspired, but instead of learning from 300 or sin city how to visually do that right they took a page out of what waterworld would have looked like on a low rez screen.
The director jumped into his theories of creation and regardless of where you stand on evolution or no evolution he made it clear it all started with the “Creator”. I loved that name for God! We have no idea what adam and eve called God in the garden. Moses was told to call Him “I AM”. The name “creator” is great because it reminds us as the “creation” we can never be greater. It is a humbling term for God and very cool.
I realized I was not upset or angry at anything in the movie. The directors additions of the Mad max world complete with welding helmets and tin roofing material could have been epic and instead to me were merely laughable.
Noah seems to live on “Tatooine” which was cool, but had me a bit distracted waiting for a Sandcrawler to pull up and Jawas jump out.
I am not going to go minute by minute because to be honest I can really only remember the stuff I was laughing at. So excuse my diarrhea of the fingers here.
The Rock creatures or “watchers” I guess were suppose to be his pre version of The Nephilim hybrids…sorta…who in bible were offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” and referenced slightly as being fallen angels here. We know pretty much nothing about these guys in the bible and it seemed to me Aronofsky went WAY left field with these guys almost to intentionally stay away from guessing what they were like. So while the nephilim were the “offspring” he kinda bypassed that and just went with fallen angel rock guys instead. There is a scene with the rock dude and he lifts up all six hands and says “Their in good hands”. I let out a huge laugh as I pictured a “neverending story” Rockbiter saying “these strong hands…”
There were a few political nods of course. One for PETA which made it very clear that if you eat prehistoric animals you are destined for destruction so become a vegan before the end of the movie because a flood is coming!
While I wasn’t upset about the odd additions I didn’t understand the subtractions. They did not serve a purpose. They could have had in there noah hearing clearly from God about the exact dimensions of the ark instead of the odd seed of eden peyote drink Methuselah gave Noah to help him “hear”.
The other subtraction was the wives of Noah’s children. There was an odd story line with finding their wives among the sinful people and not finding any that were worthy to be on the boat because ALL have fallen short. Next thing we know there is a refuge girl who grows up played by Hermione… I mean Emma Watson (who to me stole the show… she was amazing). She gives birth to twin girls and then noah goes crazy believing that even his line was not to be saved. Where Aronofsky went with this, regardless if accurate, could have been done even with keeping the sons wives. I read a TON of people mad about noah going crazy, being angry and unrighteous. I am not sure what movie they were watching because that leap made me think a ton about what was going on internally with Noah. Did you ever do something God asked you to and everybody around you had you to the brink of believing something other than the truth? This really made me look harder at the story of noah and how this must have tore him apart.
The scene where the water comes and he hears screaming around the boat must have ate noah alive in real life. It was reminiscent of titanic but instead of the people on boat dying, the whole world was. Hearing that was mind-numbing.
I am convinced that while we don’t 100% know what adam and even looked like I picture Adam as Thor and Eve as a supermodel. They were perfect and untainted. In this film they are glowing cocoon people and I could not tell which was the girl. So what happened when the curse happened? Glow disappeared and they grew “body parts”?
That brings me to the cartoon satan snake. He shed his skin and came out black and evil as he headed to the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Glowing adam sat and looked at the snake skin… “ooo pretty” as the snake showed eve the forbidden fruit. There it hung… it’s not an apple which is great!… its instead a beating heart fruit? hmm. nasty! EVE what are you thinking! its a heart! DON’T EAT IT! ugh… you did… Well lets at least save the snake skin because it gets all shimmery when you wrap it around your arm in just the right way. Eden wasn’t really pretty either. It wasn’t lush and mystical. It was instead a rainforest and it looked more like I would need to be up on my shots than sunbathing in a magical world.
The “don’t kill the babies” moment was pretty amazing from a pro-life point of view especially when noah said that all he had in his heart when he saw the baby girls was love.
Anthony Hopkins forgot how to act. Jennifer Connoly had an amazing scene where she was yelling at Noah that gave us a look at the human side of that family verses just seeing them in a “Story”. I might add she looked amazing for her age. Russell Crow surprised me. I actually found him convincing as noah just not as a 600 year old noah. He did get to reprise his role as “master and commander” while swinging from a rope and getting hit by a tidal wave. Tubal-cain who the bible refers to as a worker of bronze and iron was used in this story as the “bad guy”. He had one great speech in the movie. Let me rephrase that. The content of the speech was amazing, but not the acting. I just looked him up in an effort to make sure I never watch a movie with him again. FYI Ray Winstone.
I loved the miracles in the movie because coming from the time just out of eden, the idea that God was still connected to man was great and made sense. There is a scene where Methuselah heals Seths girlfriends womb and it was very cool and awe inspiring yet at the same time because hopkins was acting bad left a “merlin: made for tv” feel. She then runs into the arms of seth and they realize they can finally have a kid. Right then Barry white comes on and…
Speaking of music; The soundtrack was terrible. Remember in the early 90′s every keyboard/piano had a sound called “orchestra hit”? It seemed to me they found that sound too often. Every intense moment or intimate scene was interrupted by this goofy music.
It was evident their budget ran out halfway through not only with the soundtrack and animation but also the animal footage. We barely saw them! Not only did we not really see them, but where were the prehistoric animals? I am not even talking dinosaurs, but anything! The only ones we saw were a few odd looking deer and in the beginning an armadillo-dog. Normal animals for the rest of the movie. Then at the end after noah goes through his “im drunk on berries” phase we see a montage of the animals in their new home. IT’S ALL STOCK FOOTAGE from animal channel! And I’m sure I saw beast master bringing his two ferrets on the ark.
At the end there is a cool moment with an epileptic seizure inducing rainbow as Noah passes his birthright and the mark of the Creator onto the baby girls. His arm and snake skin glow… He reaches out one finger staying true to elliot and ET and as he touches the babies… DING… a bell sound? wthflockofseagulls! did an angel get it’s wings?
Let me conclude with this… It is absurd to be upset over this movie being that it itself is such an absurd film. It has some really lame stuff in it and some brilliant human struggles in it that quite frankly I liked a lot. It however is a RENT ONLY. Not because you shouldn’t support it, but really because I think the crappy animation may look better on a small screen.
I just found out a graphic novel comic is being made of it… or it may be out and it looks very cool. I might have to check that out because the idea behind this was brilliant I think… It was the execution that made it look like a lousy version of the “dark crystal” meets “conan” meets “mad max” and tina turner wasn’t even in it!
I hope all of this made sense… this is the longest review I have ever done and to be honest I don’t want to spend time editing my mystery science theater 3000 off the cuff review… Take it for what its worth… Its not scary and evil… it was kinda lame and sometimes really funny how much it was.
Now to start complaining about the new “exodus” movie coming out… Maybe there is something more important to do as the church… hmm.
DESCRIPTION OF THE COMIC: From acclaimed filmmaker DARREN ARONOFSKY (Black Swan, The Wrestler) and artist NIKO HENRICHON (Pride of Baghdad), NOAH is a fresh take on the biblical epic for the 21st Century. A fantastical world is about to be destroyed and one man is chosen to start a new one. As wicked forces try to take his Ark, Noah must hold his family together while they watch the annihilation of all they know. Infusing the Book of Genesis with fantasy and science fiction, NOAH both reinvents the elements of the Flood story everyone knows and simultaneously takes the reader beyond them and into the unexpected.