I’d like to preface this review by saying I’m a guy who writes and draws a bible-based fantasy comic. Since Noah is essentially a bible based fantasy movie, I’d like to think I now about what talking about. Either way…SPOILERS ABOUND!
So I saw Noah. I went into the movie with an open mind. I wanted to like it. I dismissed the controversy swirling around it as over reaction and hype. I love the bible and I love a good, hearty bible movie. I don’t have a problem with some added elements or some general story skimming. I mean Moses wasn’t a well spoken Chuck Heston type or Jesus a good-looking, blue-eyed, long-haired hippie. Moses stuttered, Jesus wasn’t much to look at. The bible clearly states those things. Hollywood chose to do its own thing.
Ultimately the determining factor in a good bible movie is accepting and embracing the source material. Noah fails at that completely.
There’s so much potential drama in the Noah story (Genesis 5-9). Imagine if your family was tasked with building a giant boat, the care taking of thousands of animals and also knowing that everything and everyone you know is going to be wiped out except for your immediate family. SO. MUCH. DRAMA! Instead we’re giving the made up elements that Hermione can’t have kids and Percy Jackson can’t get a woman. Whatever.
The movie’s major failure is not showing the relationship between God and Noah. In the bible God straight up tells Noah whats going to happen and why. There’s a relationship there. Direct communication with no vagueness of what’s going to happen. God wanted to wipe out all of mankind. All of it. Except for Noah. God likes Noah. Thinks he’s a righteous dude and God wants to spare him because of it. That right there says so much about both the character of both God and Noah.
The movie version gives us a God who is a non-communicative, non-entity and a Noah who gets the idea to build the ark from drinking his grandpappy’s spiked tea. Not exactly an improvement on the source material.
The movie’s second major failing is that, since God is non-existent as a character, we’re told that the main reason “The Creator” wants to destroy the world is because man done fouled it up. We see cut down forests, and the land stripped of its natural resources. The movie makes the earth look post-apocalyptic because of that. The fact that everyone dresses like they’re part of a second-rate Mad Max cosplay group doesn’t really help matters. There’s no mention of sin or how the evil of men grieves God. There’s one brief scene where see “bad things” happening in the bad guy camp but it’s so vague and zips on by that it’s seems like they just put it in the movie as if to say “mankind isn’t always nice to each other but really, if we didn’t cut down trees or eat animals, things would be ok.” Terrible.
I’ve seen some people saying that even though they didn’t like the movie at least it looked great and I just don’t agree there either. Since they went with the strip mined world motif the earth looks like an ugly place to live. Barren and dry. There’s one green spot, the mountain where Anthony Hopkin’s Methuselah lives. (I think Anthony Hopkin’s should join Liam Neesan, Harrison Ford and Sam Jackson in the “Actors Who Stopped Trying Long Ago” Club). Either way both pre and post flood views of the earth are nothing as visually beautiful as any single swooping shot of New Zealand Peter Jackson gave us in his LOTR movies. The whole film is ugly…except for Emma Watson. She’s nice.
In the end Noah is a bible movie stripped of any of the reasons it’s in the bible. God’s grieve, Man’s wickedness, Noah’s righteousness and ultimately God’s promise to the Earth. Since God is made into a new agey, nebulous “Creator” His grieve over Man’s sins and His promise not to destroy the earth by flood again are not even part of the story. Man’s wickedness is not because of his sin it’s because he’s cut down the trees, wants to eat animals (which in the bible God tells Noah and his sons to do after the flood) and has stripped the land of magical glowy rocks. (seriously).
So it all comes down to Noah. The character, as the movie presents him, is a flat-out terrible human being. Since the movie creates no real relationship between Noah and God, Noah is solely dependent on a couple of dreams and one drugged out hallucination to give him motivation to spend his and his family’s lives building the ark. Now, one can say that’s a fine example of faith but again, since no personal relationship where God has the courtesy to tell Noah directly what’s going to happen exists, it’s actually an example of extreme arrogance and outright madness. Noah’s family blindly following him makes them a bunch of patsies as well. When Noah decides he has to kill the potential daughters Hermione is miraculously pregnant with the character becomes unredeemable. The fact that he doesn’t kill them doesn’t change anything. Both the decision to kill and then not kill are both come from Noah’s ego and assumptions, because once again the movie doesn’t even try to make God an integral part of the story. Therefore the movie is about an arrogant, crazy Jerk and his boat full of animals. Fun times.
So, for me, the movie fails as a bible movie, fails as any kind of judeo-christian story, fails as a character study of the Man we call Noah and even fails at being the pseudo pro-environmental post apocalyptic movie it seems to want to be. It’s a failure all around.
At least Captain America: The Winter Soldier will stomp it out of existence next week. Yay Cap!