Sunday, November 2, 2014

Movie Review - Noah

By +Brad Naylor

Any time a movie is adapted from a popular book, people are going to draw comparisons and highlight inconsistencies. Considering which book this story came from, Darren Aronofsky  made many bold moves when writing this biblical conversion. Keep reading to find out what he changed in this non-arketypal version of Noah.

Movie Review - Noah
Noah - May make or break the new era of biblical retellings
Movies in this day and age are about great stories, supported by huge special effects and amazing acting performances, and on paper, what could be better than the the story of Noah as played by Russel Crowe with support from Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone and Emma Watson?

The result of all of this potential is a strange and barely recognizable version of the story of the great flood which washed away all the bad things from the planet so that the good and innocent may get a fresh start on a clean and green Earth.

The first noticeable diversion from the accepted First Testament format is the presence of 'The Watchers'. These fallen angels, charged with watching over mankind from the moment of the original sin, take the form of giant rock creatures who look like a cross between Transformers and the Ents from The Lord of the Rings movies. Craggy rock faced Nick Nolte was cast to give voice to one of these craggy rock faced characters. Unlike the Ents or the Transformers, the animation of these rock creatures was so poorly executed, that it looked like an homage to Ray Harryhausen.

Fast forward through the First Testament from the garden of Eden to a young Noah becoming a man and seeing his father murdered by Tubal Cain (a descendant of the murderous Cain, famous son of Adam and killer of his brother Abel), who as the formulaicly required antagonist, is a personification of the evils of man which is soon to be washed away by forty days and forty nights of solid rain.

With all the back story now taken care of the main story begins. This is also the point in the movie where the original story of Noah becomes a secondary back story. Aronofsky chose to focus less on the story of Noah's achievements and more on the man himself.

Noah is baffled by a 30 second dream sequence in which The Creator speaks to him, After seeking advice from his Grandfather, Methuselah, he deciphers the dream and begins construction of an Ark to save the innocent animals before the cleansing floods come. Along the way, he adopts a lost waif, Ila, who grows up alongside his 3 sons Ham, Shem and Japheth.

Ray Winstone as Tubal Cain in Noah
Tubal Cain tries to lead Ham astray
Noah enlists the help of the rock people as builders and bodyguards to protect his family from the ever increasing masses following Tubal Cain, who somehow is also aware of the impending flood and it's purpose. Tubal Cain, fearful of his watery demise, builds an army to take the Ark and ensure his own survival as Noah hurries to complete his task and load the animals on board.

We're gonna need a bigger boat
Noah is astounded at how many animals were invited
This is where the movie really deviates from the hallowed text. The rain begins which precipitates the main fight scene. The armies of Tubal Cain descend on the Ark and the granite transformers stand tall to defend it. The rains get harder and the fighting gets uglier and I started wondering how they would stretch this fight scene out for the 40 days and 40 nights of rain. Aronofsky had already thought about that and his answer is explosive geysers and a tsunami. As the rock monsters are killed by the masses, they explode and their angelic souls return to the heavens.

Ray Winstone is The Daddy
Tubal Cain feels he has the upper hand
The craziness of battle has a profound effect on Noah and once he and his family escape safely in the Ark, he unfolds the next portion of the Creators plan. In his version of things, all of mankind is to perish, including himself and his family. This pisses everyone off and opens the movie up for a really interesting finale which goes as follows:-

Actually I'm not going to give away the ending, but it involves pregnancy, stowaways, attempted murder, drunkenness, forgiveness and happily ever after. All the qualities of a great drama or soap opera.

Overall this was not a terrible movie, it just took a lot of liberties with the original story. If Aronofsky had called it "Frank and the Great Flood" then everything would have been fine, but to bait and switch people by suggesting this a movie about a great biblical tale, everybody felt cheated. On the proprietary Penguin Movie Scale, this movie scored a dismal 1.67 out of 5 due to the disappointing story, total lack of nudity and average action scenes.

Noah 1.67/5
Noah - 1.67/5

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