Noah—An Accident No Longer Looking for a Place to Happen

Darren Aronofsky is an atheist. AND? With unsurpassed cinematography and stunning hits like "Black 

Swan" and "Pi" to his credit, he is also an excellent teller of stories. Unfortunately, "Noah" isn't one of them.

"Noah" starts on a low note and shrinks until it finally slides off the scale, out of tune, out of touch and literally out of space, as there is no earthly way to call this orchestration of one of the Bible's most ludicrous myths anything but a tone-deaf bad LSD trip. Even the academy award winning talents of Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins could do little to rescue this cinematic kludge.

With a deluge of millions of dollars raining from Paramount Noah's ark sinks. An already silly story is made into "disaster" movie that anyone alive on this planet knows, that is until Mr. Aronofsky gets his hands on it. Does the movie have any high points? Yes. It is packed with fantastic CGI graphics and enough action for a Marvel action hero comic book. That said-- Noah sucks.

If taken literally from the Bible Genesis is already a weird story combing animals that don’t exist with talking snakes and asses. Probably the biggest ass in the rewriting a well-know story is Mr. Aronofsky. Writers frequently take poetic license when try to move a story from a book to the silver screen, but Aronofsky took appalling liberties, introducing new characters, nonexistent quotations and environmental commentary into a film that is a bizarre mixture of Star Wars, Godzilla and Freddy Kruger.

I’ve read the Bible many times, but I don’t recognize this story. Jennifer Connelly plays Noah’s wife Naameh. His sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll) and Shem’s wife-to-be Ila (Emma Watson) cannot help this ham-handed disaster film.

The scenes of the Watchers and their clomping heavy feet, a boatload of animals and a lunatic at the wheel, which Crowe does an excellent job of playing, can’t navigate this Titanic to safety. Wait until you see the six-armed stone giants as we know wandered the earth in those days. "Noah" is a whacko trip that a boatload of mushrooms would be hard pressed to produce.

The undisguised commentary of corporate greed is also overblown as Aronofsky Noah and his family are attacked plunderers from the line of Cain. Apparently, this gruesome a tribe is ruining the earth by killing off the animals and strip-mining precious minerals. Sound familiar? In an effort to bring humanism into the fractured fairy tale, Aronofsky introduces Tubal-Cain played by Ray Winstone who might have one of the better parts in the movie although that isn’t saying much. Also, Aronofsky even fabricates a love interest Ila (Emma Watson), for Noah’s eldest son, Shem.

“Noah” is poorly executed, implausible, horrid but full of action. Nevertheless, every bit of this movie should have been left on the cutting room floor. Some Christian reviews have labeled the film as atheist claptrap, but no amount of finger-pointing will save this movie from what it is—a horrible film about a maniacal God who couldn’t get it right.

I rate this movie—one star. It is totally devoid of any redeeming social content. If it were a sick animal, which it is, it would be mercifully put out of its misery.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 26, 2014 at 12:44pm
You have to be a myopic Christian to enjoy this. Evangelicals with their literal readings found the picture wanting.
Comment by sk8eycat on April 25, 2014 at 12:54pm

As an ex-Christian (50 years an atheist), "Noah" is definitely NOT my cuppa tea.  I'd rather be entertained, and this sound like a lecture with FX.

I'd like to go see "Billy Elliot - the Musical" again, or "Airplane!"  Or any version of "The Producers."

Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 25, 2014 at 7:24am

If you ar a Christian, you might find this movie highly entertaining, especially if you are a literalist. You cannot think about genealogy or the obvious reference to issues we have today. As a religionist movie, it probably works despite its obvious and sometimes painful flaws.

Comment by sk8eycat on April 24, 2014 at 8:20pm

I think I'll look for a GOOD revival of "The Flowering Peach" instead.  Or "Two by Two," the musical version of the same.  "Flowering Peach" won an Obie....(don't know about the other)   I saw it in a small theatre in the round 30 years ago, and it was hilarious. The second act opens with the ark listing dangerously, and Mrs. Noah is the typical Yiddish housewife who wants to know how the *bleep!* they're going to clean all the schmutz out of the boat.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 8, 2014 at 3:08pm

I am a Stallone fan. I don't no why, but I know of no ther man than could take on the entire Viet Cong army and not only survive but win. Sometimes I think Stallone is pulling a fast one us and is making fun of himself.

Comment by Pat on April 8, 2014 at 12:40pm

Donald, we all have out guilty pleasures. As to films, I mentioned Killer Klowns From Outer Space. Yes, I admit to seeing it - more than once. Cheesy, campy, tongue in cheek, ridiculous, horror flicks are right up my alley. Sam Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy is one example. And, I'm sure I could come up with a lot more. The ones that take themselves seriously, and are full of blood and gore and gratuitous violence, are usually not my forte. But, I do admit to enjoying the original John Carpenter film, Halloween. Probably because it was set in a small town in rural Illinois near a mental hospital, which happens to be my exact neighborhood.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 8, 2014 at 9:59am

Opinions are just that. I have one, you have one and everyone has one. I do the same for books etc. If I was stung easily about what other people think I'd quit doing it. Nevertheless, I found myself sitting there like I was watching the Titanic while they threw in an inane romance. That might be fine for some, but since I sneaked a peak at the script, I knew what was going to happen. In movies of this type, I expect the action to happen relatively fast and then retell the story of what happened. I got so bored watching the love story when I came to see a disaster film, but that's just me. I think there should be an artistic review, an audience  reception review and a predictive review. I've seen some action movies that were excuses to blow things up, kill several thousand people by one man or woman and watched the same car hit the flip ramp and slide into as man police cars as they manufacture. However, I like them. Most of them are simply awful artistically, but I loved them because they gave me what I wanted--action. That's terrible of me to admit I like those films, but I find them entertaining with their mandatory flesh shots, cool lines spoken by the protagonist and the three minutes to save the world scenarios. 

Comment by Pat on April 7, 2014 at 12:33pm

As to insulting hard liners, who cares. The Last Temptation of Christ by Scorsese did the same thing to hard line Christians. My opinion is that it was an excellent movie.  And no, Noah is not an excellent movie. On that point, we are agreed. Where we seem to disagree is that I don't think it's the most horrid piece of cellulose created in modern memory.

However, what I find disconcerting in the critiques that have been published and broadcast regarding this film is what I stated earlier. The apparent, and in my estimation, irrational frenzy over the re-working and re-telling of what is, in the first place, an ancient and less than logical fairy tale. No, the dialogue doesn't rise to the level of The Man From Earth. As I mentioned, I found the special effects leave a lot to be desired.On the other hand, Crowe and Winstone each gave a credible performance. And, there were other scenes that I found marginally entertaining and acceptable in light of the context of the fable.

You're right in that Aronofsky is no Cecil B. DeMille. Thank goodness. Had he been, and walked the 'party line' on religious approval like DeMille did with his fairy story about the Exodus, then I more than likely would have skipped it.

Now, I certainly respect your opinion and viewpoint, differing as it does from mine. And, please do not mistake anything I say here as accusing your critique of being irrational. Just the opposite. And, the reason I find your criticisms rational is that you actually went and saw the damn thing, just like I did. At least we both have a basis in reality to differ in our outlook. More than I can say about others.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on April 7, 2014 at 10:58am
You definitely have some good points, but as a movie goer, critic and writer, I wouldn't have my name associated with Noah, just as the Bible's writers avoided putting their names on a story lifted from multiple flood myths. Cecil B Demille, Aronofsky ain't. He can't make up his mind which disaster story he wants to tell, so he crews up all of them. I thought it was an insult to hard line Christians, Christians in general and to self-respecting atheists, agnostics and humanists everywhere. It is too preachy, has some of the worst dialogue since the infamous "Planet X" and full of schlock. That said, that is just my opinion. A lot of people agree with you as many agree with me. If I hadn't been paid to review it, I would have never seen it. Aronofsky should stick to making quirky films at which he is a master, but as commentary from a semi-atheist view, he 'd have done a better job of hunting snipe. They are delicious if you can catch one. Anyhow, that's why they play the game and the experts are more frequently than not served a healthy helping of Crowe.
Comment by Pat on April 7, 2014 at 9:43am

And now, for a decidedly different opinion. I went and saw it over the weekend. As I've stated here before, anything that can unite Christians, Muslims AND Atheists into what I perceive to be an irrational frenzy of loathing over a simple fairy story is something I had to check out.

Let's start with the special effects which were the worst part of the film. In my opinion, they were definitely not eye-popping. Frankly, I've seen better special effects using water at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. As to the rock clunking 'Watchers,' the machines in the preview for the movie Transformers were more impressive. Now, in fairness to Aronofsky, he admitted in a post-production interview he made a mistake calling them 'Watchers' and should have stuck to the biblical name of Nephilim (Genisis 6:4). For my tastes, I would have preferred a 9 foot tall version an antediluvian sasquatch.  Then again, it wasn't my movie to make.

I, too, have read the bible several times. And yes, the movie doesn't track exactly with the fairy tale written in Genesis. This seems to be the common criticism of the religious and non-religious alike. The way he tells this fairy tale doesn't agree with the way others tell this fairy tale. So what? Genesis doesn't track with the earlier Babylonian version of the flood story in the Epic of Atra-Hasis, which does not track with the even earlier version of the Sumerian flood story in the Epic of Gilgamesh, or the even yet earlier version of Ziusudra of Shuruppak. Each story was a plagiarism of the earlier one, and its message modified to fit the audience it was being presented to at the time. Aronofsky keeps that tradition alive with the injection of his message that if we keep screwing up the environment, we're all going to die. I suppose if the criticism is that Aronofsky took unwarranted liberties with Genisis story, the exact same criticism can be leveled at Genesis for leaving out the Gilgamesh character Utnapishtim.

Crowe does a good job of acting. Though, to be honest, it's a little tough to look at him on screen, knowing his baggage of a violent temper, and believe his character is a vegetarian. That aside, he does a very good job of going psychotic on the boat after everyone in the world dies, and turning to booze on a lonely postdiluvian beach. More liberties taken by the director (not so much the wine, since it is mentioned in Genesis), but ones that are not outside the realm of human reaction to surviving an apocalypse. Ray Winstone does a better than average job as the evil Tubal-Cain; a character that is portrayed as an ancient version of an evil CEO of British Petroleum/Monsanto/Con Agra/Consolidated Coal. A character that, in Genesis, has nothing to do with the flood story. But hey, if you’re going to have a ‘good guy’ in an action movie, you’ve got to have an antagonist.

The one part of the film that did impress me was Aronofsky’s ‘tip of the hat’ to modern science. After the screaming of drowning humanity subsides, Noah retells the biblical story of creation to his family. In telling it, we get an overlay of animation that depicts the big bang, the expansion of the universe, and evolution. I can see why the Christians and Muslims are pissed off. Non-believers?!

I certainly did not go into the theater thinking I was going to get a film that was accurate to one particular version of a plagiarized fairy story. As I did with Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Killer Klowns From Outer Space, I walked in with a temporary suspension of disbelief, knowing I’m there to be entertained, and not convinced of reality. Is it something I’ll burn to a DVD when it comes out on HBO? No. But, on the other hand, it was a mildly entertaining 2 hour diversion on a rainy afternoon. I give it 2 ½ stars out of 5.

P.S. I got in a bit of trouble when I made my date laugh out loud during scene where humanity is screaming as it gets wiped out. I leaned over and asked her if she thought Noah had enough foresight to put a shuffle board deck on the boat. There were a few glares in my direction.



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