Saturday, March 29, 2014


Noah is a film by Darren Aronofsky, who is also responsible for Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler, and Black Swan. His movies are always interesting, but not always actually good. In this case, I am unclear exactly what he was trying to do, so it is hard to tell if he succeeded. The result is a movie that is brilliant in short stretches and almost unwatchable in others.

The actual biblical story of Noah is quite short, taking up only four chapters of Genesis, less than 2500 words. Aronofsky's version is well over two hours long and deviates fairly significantly from the source material. On the one hand, there is very little drama to be had in the Biblical account; a literal translation to screen would look more like a documentary than a drama. On the other hand, the addition of fallen-angel-rock-golems, the divorcing of Noah from the rest of humanity, and the insertion of an armed assault on the Ark are all rather different in substance and tone than the original.

There is, of course, an extent to which the story of Noah is a morality play - while at the end of it God promises not to flood us out again, the takeaway lesson is usually that God drowned the wicked, and only Noah and his family were saved, because only they were good. In Aronofsky's version, the parallels to today's society are not subtle. While the Bible does not specifically say that the pre-Flood world did not consist of advanced industrial society, it seems unlikely in context. The portrayal of such in the movie, therefore, can only be a reference to our own civilization and its quest to use all of the Earth's resources. If this is the case, though, the transition from metaphoric morality tale to action movie is somewhat puzzling.

Far too much of the movie is filmed in the worst kind of shaky-cam. It is disorienting at best and nauseating at worst. The special effects are sub-par as well, never looking well-integrated into the film.

It's not all bad, though. Some of the acting is tremendous. Russell Crowe is solid as the title character, but it's the women who really have the good scenes. Jennifer Connelly (Naameh, Noah's wife) and Emma Watson (Ila, Shem's wife) both deliver remarkable performances. Unfortunately, the good parts are lost in a sea of muddled narrative and lousy camera work.

Performance: 3.5/5
Plot: 2/5
Production: 2/5
Overall: 2/5
Bechdel: Pass
Reverse-Bechdel: Pass
Mako Mori: Fail
What are these?

1. Lone Survivor
2. The Wind Rises
3. The Lego Movie
4. Lust For Love
5. The Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Pompeii
7. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
8. I, Frankenstein
9. Monuments Men
10. Knights of Badassdom
11. Divergent
12. 300: Rise of an Empire
13. RoboCop
14. Winter's Tale
15. Noah
16. The Legend of Hercules
17. Need For Speed
18. 3 Days to Kill

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