Let’s Get Reel


Any movie based off of a biblical tale is going to be a controversial one and Noah has not failed in that respect. The controversy seems to have overshadowed the most important aspect of why people watch films: is it good? To simply answer that question, no.

Noah is the epic story of the title character (Russell Crowe), his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and his three sons, Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll). Noah begins to have dreams of a forthcoming disaster caused by man’s environmental destruction and decides to seek out his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), for advice. Along his journey, Noah encounters Ila (Emma Watson), an orphaned child, and decides to adopt her as one of his own. Finally, after Noah consults Methuselah, he is convinced that he has been tasked from “the Creator” to build an ark with the help of “the Watchers” (giant stone creatures) to save his family and all of the animals. During his construction of the ark, Noah encounters resistance from Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), a war-lord who is set on seizing the ark for himself and his people. As the flood comes, Noah is faced with many decisions about what it is The Creator is asking of him and what the true nature of justice is.

Simply put, Noah suffers from similar problems to The Polar Express: limited source material. The story of Noah in the bible is a page or so long and scant on details. To make a movie based on the story of Noah, Aronofsky was tasked with filling in the spaces of the story with his own ideas. Most of these directorial decisions and extra-biblical sources make for some laughably bizarre scenes. The addition of the Watchers is just too similar to Tolkien’s ents to be taken seriously. Methuselah is basically just a comic-relief grandpa who also doubles as a wizard. And in no particular order, this movie contains Noah experiencing a drug trip, a magical James-and-the-Giant-Beanstalk seed and a magical birthright snakeskin that glows (to name a few things). All of these elements are bad, not because they are not biblical, but because they are so ridiculous that it is hard to take this movie seriously.

Another bad aspect of this movie is that it manages to be more didactic than the Bible (a hard task). From the beginning of the movie, you are bludgeoned with the fact that this flood is the result of man’s environmental discretions (especially from the bizarre, industrial, yet somehow ancient cities). Also, Aronofsky decides to add in a plotline about God (sorry, “the Creator”) wanting to destroy humanity by not giving Noah’s sons any fertile wives. This (theologically problematic) plotline is all the more frustratingly silly because Noah ends up changing his mind about this at the end of the movie.

To sum up the other gripes about this movie (I could say a lot): CGI and dialogue. Aronofsky employs far too much CGI in this movie, trivializing the serious tone of the movie (and will likely end up looking like the special effects from the 1956 The Ten Commandments). Also, the dialogue is incredibly heinous as each character feels the need to talk incredibly slow in order to emphasize that they are saying something of significance.

That is not to say that Noah is without its strengths. A select few scenes from this movie are incredibly beautiful and moving (the creation scene comes to mind) and Russell Crowe is a powerful actor. These positives are few and far between though and should not compel anyone to see this movie.