Karen and I watched Noah with Russell Crowe last weekend. I rate it 4 on a scale of 10. The IMDb.com rating system operated by Amazon.com reports 98,000 viewers rate in 6.1.
It’s a fictional action adventure drama with an illogical plot inarticulately conveyed in dialogue within mediocre visual effects and irrelevant carnage.
The plot originates in Noah’s dreams where he, men and animals are drowning in the sea. He assumes the dreams are from the world’s creator (God isn’t used as a term). He has difficulty interpreting these dreams until he seeks advice from his grandfather, Methuselah, who serves him a mind altering brew giving him hallucinations of drowning underneath the bottom of an ark.
From these murky drug-induced images, Noah makes the intuitive leap that the creator wants him to build an ark large enough to save the pairs of chosen animals while all humanity and the not-chosen pairs of animals perish, including every member of his wife, children and new-born granddaughters. The surviving animals would live forever in natural harmony without sinful man.
Noah at least struggles with this belief. But other doubters in the Bible are much more interesting, such as Jonah or Job. Those characters ask penetrating questions with humor, irony and mercy as lexicological weapons in didactic dialogues directly with God. I think Bill Cosby’s dialogue between God and Noah is more entertaining than the dialogue forced on Crowe in this movie.
Noah is portrayed as an environmentalist early in the film but ruins that image. After the best special effects scene in movie where a single seed transforms a wasteland into a vibrant eco-system of rivers and green forests, an awe-struck child asks Noah, “What is it?”
Noah hesitates, turns his back on the child to cast a thankful face to the heavens and says, “Our ark.”
I expected him to encapsulate the wonder of the creator’s gift of life in eco-systems teeming with sustainable symbiotic relationships, not label it an uncut woodpile.
He lacks the will to kill his granddaughters and inconsolably plunges into a drunken stupor because he’s failed his creator After his family intervenes, his adopted daughter and mother of his grandchildren has to explain that he’d chosen love instead of vengeance. Indeed she told him the creator picked him because he was preordained to fail.
As I ferret out that logic, the omniscient creator picked an obedient numbskull as the father for all mankind. What kind of theology is that?
Dialogue about racial issues in the Bible is non-existent because Ham is cast as a white man. He’s Noah’s prodigal son, is a person of color who leaves the family to create a lineage that causes racial conflicts for generations. Racial dialogue doesn’t come up, a missed opportunity and an especially stunning insult to viewers of color.
Perhaps Director Darren Aronofsky chose to convey essential messages visually, not verbally.
But the special effects are weak. Noah is helped by six angels of black boulders that seem to have ligaments confining lava filled souls. They serve as worthy workers and warriors against the doomed rabble trying to storm the ark.
The ark is actual size so it looks ponderous in the seas, but few scenes of importance use that image. The special effects animals entering the ark appear to dwarf its capacity, but they will be stacked efficiently because his wife serves them an herbal soporific.
Scenes are dark whether outdoors on indoors until the end. Consequently the characters’ eyes have beams of light reflected off them as if they glow with divinity. Unfortunately when they smiled, light gleaming off their teeth reminded me of vampires. Some scenes were almost blacked out on our 51” HD screen.
Having disliked the movie, I learned viewers paid $101 million to see it in the US and $258 million in other countries, making it “an unmitigated hit .. by almost every measure,” according to Scott Bowles in USA Today. “Yet,” he said, “film fans may not believe in it.”
So what do I know? I know I didn’t like it or believe in it.