Noah – The Emperor’s New Movie

Let me just start by saying two words which you can accept as fair warning to avoid this stupidest movie in years: Rock People.

Need more?

Tragically, as Western Civilization continues to decay all around us, one thing remains unmuddled: everything is politics. And nowhere is that more true than in media. The same polarization that fired Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and then got him rehired, and made Mel Gibson $600 million, and then lost him his Hollywood career, and made half the world want to canonize Roman Polanski with the other half wanting him castrated — these are the same social causes propelling the embarrassingly awful horribleness of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, into an 76% fresh rating from the shameless, agenda-driven critics at RottenTomatoes.com, and setting so many Christian leaders and critics into shilling for the same. Please, stop the madness. It is astounding to me how Christians can be lured into a defense of the indefensible because they are so afraid of the charge of “unreasonablenes.” Trying so hard to be nice, we end up being patsies for people who have no other agenda than to make money off of us.

Oh yeah. And ROCK PEOPLE.

Honestly, there is so little that is Biblical in the piece that it isn’t even worth critiquing it as an irreverent adaptation. If the Bible was an original writer of the material, the WGA wouldn’t even insist on it getting a shared story credit with Aronofsky. It isn’t an adaptation in any serious sense of that term. There is a boat, a flood, and a guy named Noah in both pieces, and that is all they have in common.

Noah is a terrible, terrible movie. I kept thinking all through, “Wow. The secular critics hate Christians this much. They hate the Christians so much, that they will rave about this piece of crap because they think the Christians are going to hate it for ideological reasons.” And the Christian critics? Well, too many have been all balled up in the throes of self-loathing for at least a decade, which leads them to depths of self-contradiction in their popular culture appraisals that never seems to have a bottom. As soon as the momentum around this picture as offensive Scripturally began to go – and it is clear that this was generated intentionally by the studio and PR people promoting Noah – the Christians felt themselves double-dared to show themselves “enlightened” enough to embrace the movie even as it spits in their eye in every way – as an adaptation of Scripture, as a work of cinema, and as a plain old story. Remember when so many Christians felt the need to embrace the neo-porn mess, The Master? I remember one guy insisting that it was the best film of the decade. It wasn’t. It was an offensive, puerile mess. And remember when we were all told to go see The Da Vinci Code to promote “dialogue.” What a crock! In this case, the insane need to embrace modern sewage has the critics swallowing huge, gargantuan portions of ROCK PEOPLE!

Of course, there is also the sheer profit motive driving some of the reviews. Promoting movies is a high stakes business, and, sadly, the world of the professional movie critic is thoroughly mired in it. In the interest of full disclosure, for example, this blog is hosted on the Entertainment Channel of Patheos. That same Entertainment Channel received money to feature the movie ‘Noah’ to accompany its release. The website took money to essentially function as a paid advertising service for the movie. But those who are visiting the site don’t know that.

Where was I? Oh yes, Noah is a terrible, terrible movie. As a story, it doesn’t attain to the level of the worst of the cheesy Biblical movies made in the fifties. Aronofsky broke the first and sacred rule of storytelling: you have to make the audience care. We never cared about Noah even after he was kind to a wounded, half dog – half snake. (No, that wasn’t a mistake.) We never cared for any of the characters. I kept hearing people say this movie is deep. It isn’t. It is psychologically pedestrian. The only emotion the movie elicited in me was laughs of scorn. The script is problematic in every way in which a script can be problematic. Bad characterizations – no complex personalities, just stereotypes. Unmotivated choices abound. No imagery or story subtext. Huge story problems requiring ark-sized suspension of disbelief. Earnest, oh so earnest, dialogue with every syllable on-the-tedious-nose. Awkward transitions. Completely missing a coherent theme. Embarrassing soap-operaish holds on actors looking tense or worried or just staring ahead trying to convey lostness and doubt. And the fakest, funniest looking, plastic green snake used repeatedly to indicate “Evil is in the house.” It’s bad enough to be a Christian movie!

It’s so dumb, I can’t even write a serious review. Seems likely the studio purposely created and then drove all the controversy around the movie because they knew they had a dog. They’re hoping they can have a huge opening weekend because as soon as word gets out that this is a dull, idiotic waste, it’s going to drop like a rock person next weekend.

Here is a short list of some of the stupid story problems in Noah: (Is it possible to spoil a rotten thing? Well, be warned anyway…)

- Some of the angels felt compassion for Adam and Eve. God was so petulant and wrathful that he turned those angels into rock people. Then, human beings killed most of the rock people somehow. So, the rock people hate humans. But they take a hankering to Noah for no reason and build the ark for him.

- We say in screenwriting that the most cliched way to try to establish sympathy for the main character is to show him or her being nice to a sick child or an animal. Well, this creatively lazy piece has Noah doing both. But his gentleness to the missing-link dog is undermined when he pulls the arrow out of its flank and then stabs to death three humans. His adoption of the sick girl is undermined later when he tries to stab her infant daughters.

- Noah is a completely unsympathetic character. Somewhere in the beginning of the third act when he was in a knife fight with the raw-rat eating guy, I asked my friend, “Is it wrong of me to want Noah to die?” When the audience is rooting for the main character to be knifed (so he can’t kill his infant grandchildren), the filmmaker is deep, deep in the “film as disaster” end zone.

- Noah chides his son for ending the life of a teeny wildflower. And then he has the rock people cut down an entire forest to build the ark.

- We are told that the cities are centers of technology, but when we see the cities close up, they are just tents and unwashed people with really bad hair. You would think if they were so advanced they might have invented shampoo.

- It starts to rain, and five minutes later, Tubal Cain attacks the ark with an army of thousands and thousands. That’s a great general!

- The evil city people believe it is the apocalypse within seconds of the first drops of rain.

- Tubal-Cain hides on the ark -unknown to Noah – for nine months. He stays hidden despite the fact that he is eating the animals raw to keep up his strength. There went all the unicorns, I guess.

- The animals are lulled to deep sleep by a herbal smoke potion. It knocks the elephants flat – but it has no effect on the humans.

- Noah spends nine months firmly entrenched in his plan to murder his grandchildren at their birth. He’s intractable and insane in his conviction that this is what God wants. But then, when he is about to stick the knife in the children, he just changes his mind. Unmotivated choice.

- Five minutes after they emerge onto the new land, Noah makes himself a winery and gets crazy drunk and naked. It’s not clear if he is angry at “The Creator” or angry at himself or just an introvert who suddenly has nothing to do.

- ROCK PEOPLE. ROCK PEOPLE. ROCK PEOPLE.

I was looking forward to the effects, but, really, the movie storytelling is so bad, that the effects fall flat. There was one cool shot of people clinging to a rock and getting washed away, but it was over too fast. The score is over the top and intrusive. It is striving so transparently to make up for the lack of emotion in the picture that it repeatedly calls attention to itself, in the worst way.

Oh yeah, and there is a ton of annoying, superior liberal preaching about how we should all be vegetarians, and that technology and cities are innately bad because they hurt the planet. Dumb, oversimplified liberal utopia nonsense. But it barely offended me because I was so much more offended by the terrible story craft in the piece.

Stay far away and save your money. Rent The Ten Commandments for the weekend. Or Ben Hur. Or even a bad Biblical movie like The Robe. Any of them are a thousand times better than this piece of pretentious, over-hyped garbage.

Galaxy Quest called. They want their rock people back.

Anybody who says Christians need to see the movie to promote dialogue is being a tool. Anybody who says the movie is visionary is jumping on an Emperor has No Clothes bandwagon. Any pastor who creates a sermon to coincide with this awful piece is being played for a sucker. And the Christians who are promoting the film for money should be ASHAMED of themselves. Really, how dare you?

P.S. rock people

[NOTE FROM BARB: I am going to close the comments for this thread mainly because I just can't keep up with moderating them all and it seems the main points have been made. Thanks to all of you for sharing and participating in the discussion.]

Magnificat Moments
Because That Puerile, Stupid Song is Really a Poison
See Barb at Via Affirmativa in Colorado Springs in May
The Rest of the Review: Flannery O'Connor's "A Prayer Journal"

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