Movie Review: Noah

I’m gonna be honest I didn’t finish it.

Now I’m no novice to Darren Aronofsky. I’ve seen a bunch of his movies (not that I need to prove anything, I just want to say I was totally willing to give this guy the benefit of the doubt) and I’ve mostly loved them, even The Fountain, which (within his body of work) bears the most in common with Noah. I wasn’t expecting to have my hand held, and I was certainly ready for some strange surreal-ness to happen. But… Ugh. Noah. You are one boring movie.

I actually hate in movie reviews when I read that a movie has “plot issues” or “issues with pacing”. Let’s cut the art school mumbo-jumbo. This film had a script that must have written by a classroom (possibly a sunday school classroom) full of seventh grade boys. It’s a “period piece” I guess, so the dialogue has to have some of that slow encumbered stoicism that you might find in the Lord of the Rings. The only character that seemed to have anything interesting to say or any charm whatsoever was Noah’s grandfather (who had a name I don’t feel like Googling. He had a sword that shot fire in one scene) played by Anthony Hopkins. He sits on top of this mountain and rarely appears even though Noah’s family seems to live less than a mile away. He keeps asking for berries. For some reason this is the only dialogue that actually stuck in my head.

Oh wait, I know why I remember it! It was the only time any of the characters showed any humor. The rest of the time they’re seriously discussing who begat who, and whether or not humans will survive to continue begatting more humans after the flood, or if the Lord God wants us all to die. Yawn.

When did the apocalypse get so boring? Oh wait, I know when. As soon as this movie started playing. At one point Noah wakes after having a prophetic dream and runs dramatically from his hovel of a home to look meaningfully at the horizon. This moment was one of several where Darren Aronofsky actually showed his strengths with a beautiful shot of Noah’s silhouette cutting against a sunrise. Then the script (and maybe Russel Crowe’s acting) brought us back down to suck-town with a quick thoughtless exposition, “He’s going to destroy the world!”

Commence with the eye-rolling. I mean we all know the plot of Noah. He builds a ship and fills it with animals. Couldn’t we at least liven things up with some snappy dialogue?

The world Noah inhabits does seem in need of a do-over, that’s for sure. There’s roving gangs of cannibals that seem straight out of Cormac McCarthy’s novel “The Road”. Mining and hunting seems to have depleted the Earth of her bounty (is there an allegory to our current troubles with climate change? Dunno. The movie didn’t make much of a case). Angels wander around trapped in stone bodies, looking more like low budget transformers, or maybe Ents (like from Lord o’ da Rings) than like fallen angels. I’m not much of a theologian, so maybe some this went over my head, but when I heard the story of Noah’s Arc as a kid these bits (highly interesting they might have been to a five year old me) were decidedly absent.

Noah also puts a lot of effort into finding wives for his children, because after the flood (obviously) there won’t be very many bachelorettes around. I couldn’t help but wonder about this since, if you really think about it, pretty much everyone on the earth (at that point) must have been cousins. I mean REALLY. Noah is begat from a long line ending in Seth, and most everybody else is begat from a long line of Cains. And guess what boys and girls: those two, Seth and Cain? They were brothers. And their parents were Adam and Eve. So where do all these babies come from? If you do the math, you’ll see that Mr. Cain and Mr. Seth must have married their biblically unlisted sisters.

I know the point is moot (and also kind of gross). But all the hullabaloo surrounding the “finding of wives” and their subsequent failure to do so raised a lot of questions in my bored wandering mind. Like: if they don’t find wives and Noah has some more kids with Jennifer Connelly and those kids end up being girls, is the world in for some more Cain and Seth style incest?

I dunno. The movie sort of glossed over this part by shoving a battle scene between the fallen angels and the cannibals at us.

Like in The Fountain, Noah is full of unexplained wonders and fascinating production design, but unlike many of Aronofsky’s other movies it seems totally without mystery or personality. Or at least, without mysteries that we care about. Noah feels a lot more like a tasteless blockbuster than one of the thoughtful, disturbing or mind bending flicks that this auteur is known for. Don’t bother unless you’ve actually never heard the story of Noah’s Arc and you have two hours to kill. Spoiler alert, he fills the ship with two of each kind of animal.

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