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Noah - Pre-Screening Review

Noah (2014)


I would very much like to begin and end this review with a word, "no," but that would make me a terrible writer and critic. The truth is, I take no pleasure in ripping apart a film that hasn't had its time yet, but we're all a little cynical inside, and for someone who watches dozens of movies a year, there has to be something to be said before some of them premiere.

Russel Crowe plays Noah, dawning a spear and looking proudly out onto the raging sea, as if in defiance of nature's goal to eliminate us. Again, walking back from the actual tale about obedience.

Why I would waste my time on Noah, is a bit beyond me. At first sight of the title I was immediately filled with a whole mix of emotions, none of them pleasant. Imagine biting into an apple after its time and for some reason you were too distracted to remember to spit it out and instead swallow the pasty disgust. That is Noah do.

The story of Noah and the Flood is a biblical tale from the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, or beginning. It spans very few pages, and gives little intrigue about the characters as most biblical stories tend not to be very three-dimensional. Of course, The Nightmare Before Christmas was a fantastic film based on a poem alone, and Pirates of the Caribbean was based on a theme park ride, and that came out okay- mostly thanks to Depp. Still, this one doesn't bode well for me as a moviegoer, but delights as a critic.

Negative criticism is always fun to read and write, as it lends itself to satirical humor at the expense of the filmmaker. That said, I don't take much pleasure in it. If you see a pre-screen review here, you can be sure I'll be sitting through three hours of nonsense to write a detailed post-screen review as well. Go me, ever the altruist.

Moving along, Noah is directly based on the story in the book of Genesis. The story goes that Noah, our main protagonist, was told by God that a flood was coming to wipe humanity off the face of the planet. A bit morbid, I know. God had decided that he'd made a mistake in our creation, and decided it was time to clean up his mess, but upon seeing hope in Noah, he granted him long life and beckoned him to build an arc to transport his family and two of each animal. After the flood subsides, Noah sends out a bird who brings back a branch on its first journey indicating the waters are receding, and by its third and final voyage, doesn't return, convincing Noah that land is once again hospitable for the reintroduction of life.

That said, this is most likely one of those times where the film is only loosely based on the actual text. Although the filmmakers behind the project would like us to believe it is the telling of "the untold story" to witness in 3D and imax, likely what we'll see is the telling of the filmmakers own version of 2012 meets the bible.

Sure to win some awards for its impressive use of CGI to create monstrous tides, and cinematography certainly has its place, but Russell Crowe could have passed on this opportunity to dawn a beard and rags.

IMDb describes the film as "The Biblical Noah suffers visions of an apocalyptic deluge and takes measures to protect his family from the coming flood."

That should be enough to tell you it's probably not going to be the biblical telling of the story, and while you may argue that the direction of the movie would center around the secular themes of Noah and the Flood and not the literal translation, the story is mostly about obedience to the father, and knowing your place in the hierarchy of the family.

The many posters depicting Russell Crowe as Noah feature him wielding an ax, spear, or just clenching his fists, looking defiantly onto the crashing waves and fierce weather, as if to tell Nature that humanity will not go down without a fight. While this would be an interesting place to take the story, or just an interesting plot by itself, it doesn't really work if you're going to slap a biblical characters name on it just to sell it. Unimpressive, shameless plug says what?

Ultimately, Noah will fall short of a good movie in this writer's personal opinion. The biblical tale doesn't give much about the story of Noah aside from the very minor details about what he did. Surely moviegoers will get to see a lot of Russell Crowe swooning his wife and being a stern but fair and loving father, and describe the character Noah as being a selfless individual who risked life and limb to save the people he loved. Again, walking away from the actual story about a man who was ordered to do all that, and passively obeyed. Your move, Hollywood.

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