Movie Review: ‘Noah’ (2nd Opinion)
Plot: From Oscar nominated director Darren Aronofsky, Noah is a reimagining on the epic Biblical tale. Noah (Russell Crowe) is a simple God-fearing man who lives off the land and takes care of his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), his adoptive daughter Ila (Emma Watson) and sons Ham (Logan Lerman), Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll) and Shem (Douglas Booth). He fears only the descendants of Cain who have ravaged the world, one of whom slaughtered his father Lamech (Marton Csokas) right in front of him. Eventually, Noah begins receiving visions from the Creator, foretelling an apocalypse that will destroy the Earth in a great flood. Haunted by these visions, Noah seeks out his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) who helps him understand that God wishes Noah to build a monstrous Ark to save the animals of the world from the coming destruction. Along the path to salvation Noah battles the leader of Cain’s descendants Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), who seeks the Ark for himself and his people, the enmity of his son Ham, and his own lingering self doubts about his duty and his destiny.
Review: Early on in the classic 80s film Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, the late great George Carlin says, “Don’t worry, it’ll all make sense in the end.” Fifteen minutes into Noah, as the plot became more bizarre I was clinging to this piece of dialogue like a drowning man. Thirty minutes in as the story descended into the land of the ridiculous, another classic line entered my mind, “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” By the time an hour rolled around and I was fully immersed in a mescaline induced David Lynch-esque nightmare I knew I had condemned the three people I’d dragged with me to the theater to another ninety minutes of pure torture.
Pedantic, boring, soulless, and utterly lacking in any redeeming qualities, Noah is easily one of the worst films I’ve ever seen in the theater. From the sub-par acting, to the atrocious CGI, to an agenda filled plot that is ridiculous to the point of absurdity, Noah proves to be a world-class turdburger of a film, the likes of which I haven’t seen for a very long time. The pure mind numbing banality and horrendousness cannot be overstressed here.
What makes Noah into an irredeemable failure is the story itself. Darren Aronofsky’s and Ari Handel’s script is so convoluted, silly, and riddled with liberal propaganda that it baffles the mind that they could conceive audiences would take this film seriously. It’s so bad I barely know where to begin. Oh I know! How about with the Watchers. The Watchers are a group of stone golems that are actually fallen angels imprisoned by God after they helped mankind when the Creator cast them out of Eden. These Watchers ultimately help Noah build the Ark. Sound ridiculous? That’s because they are. Imagine the two racist Transformers from Revenge of the Fallen coupled with the Rock-Biter’s illegitimate children from The Neverending Story and you’ll have a clear picture of what I’m getting at. Want an example of how ridiculous these CGI monstrosities are? I’ll give you two. Early on in the story, Noah and his family are being chased by Tubal-cain’s men when they are forced into a large ditch. Thankfully, Noah’s family is rescued when a helpful Watcher comes back that night and leads them out of the ditch. This despite the fact that the ditch is only about five feet tall and easily accessible. Or how about towards the end of Noah when Tubal-cain’s men attack the Ark. All the Watchers decide to join together in a battle COMPLETELY ripped off from the battle of Isengard in The Two Towers. However here the Watchers substitute for the Ents. Just pathetic.
Moving on from the laughable Watchers, let’s take a moment to talk about messages. Listen I’m no babe in the woods here. I loved Elysium but I’m not naïve enough to discount the very environmentalist/class warfare message of the film. However, I also recognize that the message flowed from the narrative. The complete opposite was the case in Noah. I’m not a Bible thumping ultra-conservative by any means. In fact I consider myself mostly apolitical. But you’d have to be Helen Keller in a sensory deprivation tank not to notice the ultra-liberal propaganda that permeates Noah. First of all I’m convinced that PETA must have had some involvement in this film because again and again audiences are forced to endure a pro-Vegan message where anyone who eats meat is somehow evil. We should all just survive on lichen like Noah apparently. At one point in the movie some of Tubal-cain’s men stumble onto Noah’s land and kill a lizard-deer (don’t ask, just don’t) because they are starving. When the men try to get at their catch Noah kills them. So apparently eating animals for food is evil but killing men who do so is not. Oooookay. Another example occurs when Noah sneaks into Tubal-cain’s camp to steal wives for his sons (because nothing says fatherly love like kidnapping unwilling women to be your sons’ wives) and discovers men ripping animals apart in an unholy orgy of eating goats and cows. One shot even shows a man munching on a goat leg with a feral look on his face. Another example of how non-Vegans are evil people apparently. Noah has obviously never had Chick-Fil-A.
Then there’s the clear environmental message. Or should I say anti-industry message. Aside from the forest surrounding the area where Noah and the autobots–errr Watchers are building the Ark, most of the Earth has become a Mad Max like gray wasteland full of decrepit cities and desolation. (Oh I should mention that Noah’s forest grows from a magical seed in about six seconds because…reasons?) This is a clear indictment of modern day man’s ongoing rape of the natural world and the resulting consequences. Again, I’m not an anti-environmentalist but good Lord Aronofsky and Handel lay it on thicker than a Sarah McLaughlin dog commercial.
Moreover, the worst and possibly most blatant message in Noah is the idea that man is by nature evil. The example I just provided serves as an example but there’s some others as well. Even if you have only a passing association with Bible lore, you probably know that God meant to repopulate the world after the flood not only with animals, but men as well. Well Aronofsky and friends, in an effort to push the pro-animal agenda, play Noah completely one-sided. God DOES NOT want man to remain on the Earth, just animals. Crowe’s character spouts this ad nauseam throughout the film. Later, sporting a Uni-Bomber haircut and psyche, he solidifies this propaganda by threatening to kill the daughters of his adopted daughter Ila. (By the way she was magically cured of her inability to bear children by Methuselah, a feat that made Emma Thompson’s character instantly horny but did not remove her anachronistic English accent. Did I mention Methuselah is obsessed with berries for the whole movie as well? No? Well the producers thought I should know for some reason and now you do too.) All of these messages are offensive to me. Not from a religious standpoint. (I consider myself a Christian but it takes a LOT to offend me.) More so from an intelligence standpoint. That Aronofsky and company could think so little of me that I wouldn’t see through their unsubtle, thinly veiled, ludicrous story to the messages beneath is insulting to my intelligence.
Thankfully, the atrocious story overshadows the sub par acting and CGI in Noah. Crowe’s Biblical character came across as just more of Crowe being Crowe. Gone are the days of Gladiator, The Insider, or A Beautiful Mind. I never once thought that Jennifer Connelly was anyone other than Jennifer Connelly. Apparently the producers thought that since the two had chemistry before it would work again. It didn’t. Emma Watson is competent as Ila and Logan Lerman sports a strong performance even though he’s underutilized. Ray Winstone succeeds the best out of the bunch. His Tubal-cain manages to be menacing and in some instances even empathetic. As for the hugely anticipated special effects, I’d hazard to say that other than the Ark itself, Sharknado sported better special effects. The serpent (Devil if you will) looked like a rubber snake from the dollar store, the CGI animals were awful, and Adam and Eve resembled the glowing aliens from Cocoon.
I consider Darren Aronofsky to be one of the great directors of our time. His track record of great films like Black Swan, The Wrestler, and Requiem for A Dream bear that out. However, this one is a complete stinker. It’s like the guy was inwardly channeling Uwe Boll. In fact if I hadn’t known Aronofsky did this film there’s no way you could have convinced me he directed it. It’s that bad.
In the end Noah left me wishing I’d drowned in the flood rather than hitched a ride on this epic disaster of a movie.
My rating: 1/10
For a second opinion from another House of Geekery reviewer, click HERE.