For some reason, I thought the Michigan/Tennessee Sweet 16 game was going to tip-off later tonight. Unfortunately (and from what I understand from the replays, perhaps fortunately) I decided to go see the movie Noah since this is its’ opening weekend.
There’s been a lot of buzz about the movie going into it. A number of Christian organizations are calling for a boycott of the movie because it doesn’t follow the Bible. To that complain I have to point out that the total story of Noah’s Ark takes up 3 chapters in the book of Genesis. You’re not going to make a movie just on that. In addition, there’s always some creative license taken in order to get a movie to the 90 minute mark. I’m not going to a non-documentary movie for factual accuracy. I’m going to hear the director’s/producer’s/writer’s/actors voice and message that they are willing to share with the world. Maybe it’ll be valid, maybe it’ll challenge your own way of thinking, maybe it’ll just make you laugh. So with that approach, I went to see the movie.
I also wanted to see the movie because it was directed by Darren Aronofsky. I usually like his stuff. I especially liked Black Swan (and not just because of Natalie Portman). I liked it because it was a great approach at dealing the question of what is real and what is not. It is a movie that challenges you to watch it a couple of times to really make sure you get it.
Perhaps I was expecting a little of that with Noah. I don’t think that raised the bar to the unachievable for me. Which is a good thing, because leaving the bar alone, the movie tripped over itself trying to build up speed getting to the jump.
There is no question that the CGI effects are well done. Even with the moments where the effects were a little cheesy (i.e. shots from orbit showing Pangaea; the shots showing hurricanes all over the Earth during the flood), they were dazzling. I will warn you, if you don’t like snakes/lizards/creepy crawly things, you probably won’t like one of the scenes where the animals arrive at the Ark (hope you’re paying attention Mom … just sayin’).
But great movies are about the story, the directing, and the acting. The story and the directing couldn’t figure out what they wanted to do. Is this a movie that warns us about the need for conservation? Is it a movie that promotes vegetarianism over eating meat? Is it a movie that shows how dark man can get when he’s desperate for survival? Is it a movie about blindly following a higher power, to the point where you no longer doubt that you’re interpreting the “Creator’s” message? Is it a movie about hope? Is it a movie about darkness?
Aronofsky and the story never can figure that out and as a result they throw all of that at you. It’s like they wanted to make a biblical Black Swan and ended up covering all ends of Pangaea.
Then the acting. The only two actors who were tolerable were Russell Crowe and Anthony Hopkins. Russell carried the internal struggle that Noah experiences (almost into madness) very well. At times, he was very reminiscent of the effort he showed in A Beautiful Mind. And Sir Anthony Hopkins is always good in whatever he does.
Unfortunately, Jennifer Connelly and Emma Watson (both of which do their best) are trapped by the confusing/wandering/poorly written story. Connelly, especially, tries very hard to build the chemistry that she and Crowe had in earlier efforts. Again, the script just doesn’t let that happen.
And Watson … well, she’s moved on from Hermione Granger, which is a good thing. Hopefully she’ll get better scripts in the future to let her really move on.
At the end of the 2 hour monstrosity, which ended way to conveniently, it was interesting to hear absolute silence from the audience as the credits rolled. I ended up being one of the last people to leave the theater mainly because I was busy posting an early warning to my friends. As I left, I noticed the other 4 people left (I counted about 95 people who were there) were also texting/Facebook’ing/Tweeting what I can assume were similar warnings.
I think the another good way to describe the movie is to quote what a couple of grad students who sat in front of me said when the lights came up, “What the fuck was that!”
Like Noah, I feel like I’ve done my duty and I have now warned the rest of mankind … JUST … DON’T … DO … IT!