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Noah: What a jerk!

Rediscover the epic story of one man and the most remarkable event in our history.
image from Paramount Pictures

Noah

Rating:
Star2
Star
Star
Star
Star

Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland

Markus Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Rated PG-13 for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content

Now playing at Century 20 Oakridge Mall in San Jose, California:

Think “Take Shelter”, “Mad Max”, add in a touch of “The NeverEnding Story” and then set it in the Shire and you get the basis for the world writer/director Darren Aronofsky builds in his new film, “Noah”. While that may sound pretty awesome and while this biblical epic was probably better than that Jesus movie which just came out a few weeks back, aside from some million dollar flood visuals, this story of the “original apocalypse” comes off as rather dry.

The plot isn’t anything you aren’t familiar with. When 600 year old (going on 50) Noah sees visions of the end of the world, he informs his family that they must drop everything and build a super-ark that will fit two of every animal, so they may survive the great flood to come. Naturally his family agrees to do so, and with the help of some fallen angels who sort of resemble Rockbiters from “The NeverEnding Story”, they build said ark.

With a cast the likes of Russell Crowe as the constant pessimist, Noah, Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah and Emma Watson as Ila (a girl the family adopts) one would expect to be drowned in great performances. But sadly nobody but Crowe and Ray Winstone, who plays evil Tubal-cain, are given anything to do. Yes, Hopkins gets a few laughs as a comic relief interpretation of Methuselah, but all Connelly does is emote the same dour expression for the entire film and Watson isn’t given more than one line to say until the movie is almost over (even then, she mostly just sobs). From moment one, it’s all about the visuals. I get it. But, then why cast what looks to have been a shockingly pricey group of actors if you’re just going to restrict them to playing made for TV written characters?
More things that are wrong with “Noah”:

Right off the bat, when the Rockbiter-angel-things start talking (and they are in this movie for a good hour or so) it is painfully hard not to immediately dismiss “Noah” as ridiculous. And it doesn’t help that when these cringe inducing creature aren’t on screen, the dialogue between the humans is hokey as hell (the script was written by Aronofsky and Ari Handel).

Aronofsky does know his way around cinematic visuals and unleashes his full bag of tricks for this big budget epic. As I alluded to before, the flood sequences are spectacular. And there is a flash montage sequence near the end that sees a two minute visual rundown of the creation of the universe, earth and life itself, which is unbelievably inspired and reminds us all that Aronofsky is still one of the most technically limit-pushing directors working today. That said, “Noah” contains numerous visuals that range from confusing, unintentionally ridiculous, or should be labeled as just plain poor CGI (especially when it comes to the shockingly bad computer generated animals; which there are many).

Maybe Peter Jackson should have directed this: It’s funny because in 2014 it’s hard to visually differentiate a fantastical story like this one from one set outside of Middle-earth. Therefore, one can’t totally blame Aronofsky for attempting to detour from the usually dry bible films in order to create something visually eye catching. But the story of Noah and many biblical tales from the Old Testament lend themselves to such fantastical imagery, that in the wrong hands, visuals come off as unbelievably absurd and off-putting.

But the biggest problem I had with “Noah” was simply…I didn’t care. Here’s the thing: If somebody is telling/showing me a story, even one that I am quite familiar with and enjoy hearing, their interpretation must still contain some emotional investment or character(s) that audiences can have stake in or care about. Simply stated, with “Noah”, this aspect was overwhelmingly lacking. Maybe it was the front-loaded silly visuals, or the bland conversations or the unlikable characters, but not for one second did Aronofsky get me to emotionally invest in the plights of anyone on-screen. Oh, wait. That’s not entirely true. In all actuality, the one character which I did find myself taking interest in was Tubal-cain, simply because he was the only beacon of lively thespian entertainment I could find.

Final Thought: While watching “Noah” I will say that there were a couple of moments where I was physically on the edge of my seat. There were two. During the introduction of the Tubal-cain character (watching Winstone absolutely devour the scenery as “the bad guy”) and during the final half an hour when Noah gets all baby-killy. But that was it. “Noah” is two hours and eighteen minutes long and I was entertained by all of 40 minutes of it. Now if I say that “Noah” stands as my least favorite Darren Aronofsky film to date, that may be a bit misleading since the worst of Aronofsky is still pretty damn good. So, I’ll keep it simple. Religious debates regarding accuracy and such aside, overall “Noah” was a bore.

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