Thursday, September 25, 2014

Noah

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! Fox was pissed because they took the happy tale of genocide and made you actually think about those who died.


Noah – 4 out of 5

Whenever I think of the biblical story of Noah, I suddenly get that awful song from Hilary Duff "Come Clean" stuck in my head. Why? Fuck if I know.  Probably because of the rain imagery in the song.  Anyway, needless to say, I try to never think of Noah and The Flood (hey, that sounds like a really shitty name to an incredibly untalented Christian Rock band…actually, it probably already is. I’m not going to bother to Google it.). However, when I first saw the trailer to Darren Aronofsky’s take on the tale, I admit that I was curious. I’m a fan of Russell Crowe, I’m a fan of Aronofsky’s work, and the trailer actually looked kinda cool…and the outrage that Fox had over the film didn’t hurt in creating interest in me, either. The question now is: Is the film good? Well, if you looked at my score, you already know the answer is "yes," so you really don’t need to read anymore…but, please, keep reading…I’m lonely.
 
Wait, they let a filthy muggle on the ark?!?

Everyone knows the story of Noah and how God got all pissy because everyone on the planet—everyone from the elderly to babies to the mentally handicap to any potential Ned Flanders types—got all super wicked and were sinning in up like the rivers were now filled with wine, all snow turned into cocaine, and your XP meters filled by the amount of times you stole, took God’s name in vain, and the number of neighbors you coveted. So, God (or as he is referred to only in the film; The Creator) decides to start from scratch and get rid of all the shitty people—especially those shitty babies, they should have known better. However, he is not ready to completely give up on the human race yet so he sends cryptic dream messages to Noah (Russell Crowe)—which would now be diagnosed as eating Arby’s too close to bedtime—and shows him that the world will die in a massive flood and that it is up him to save his family and two of every animal on an ark so that they can start all over again. The only problem is that a lot of the wicked humans aren’t ready to test their skills at treading water and one of Cain’s descendants; Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), leads an army to try and take the ark and save themselves.
 
"I put my change into the Salvation Army bell ringer's bucket...that's why I was chosen
to survive."
 

A lot of buddies of mine and members of a movie discussion group I’m in made fun of the film and said that "even Noah was getting the superhero treatment." However, I never got that feel from the trailer. I did, however, get the feel that this was going to venture away from the happiness and rainbows-sorta feel that the made-for-children books made the tale look like and have pretty much become the go-to source material for Noah’s story. The reality is, the story of Noah isn’t an "Awww, look, he saved all the animals," and is more of "Holy fuck, there must be millions of bodies slamming against the hull of the ark in a never ending drum solo of horror." And it is that darkness that Darren Aronofsky brought to the screen.
 
The ark is harder to get into than a hip club, amirite?  Eh? Eh?

I'll show myself out.
 

Okay, so if you are an avid reader of my silly reviews, you already know I’m an atheist (shit, it even says it in my bio here). This fact might make people wonder why I’m watching this adaptation of this story from the Bible. The fact is simple; I see the Bible as a work of fiction. It doesn’t have the same hold on me that it does on others. So, while I may not believe in the idea of a God or that he got his panties in a bunch because people weren’t acting like he wanted to after giving them free will, I still find the idea of God and his holy actions as an interesting piece of fiction, not much different from all other works of fiction.  I don't believe in ghosts or Superman but I will watch movies about both of them because they can make for good stories.  However, Christians don’t see him as a fictional character and some of them—especially those at Fox News—took offense at this adaptation and said it lacked the themes of the biblical story…but that’s because their only frame of reference wasn’t the Bible but those kiddie stories I mentioned earlier.
 
Speaking of those cats at the unbalanced news network...Noah's wife is a fox!
 

Despite my lack of faith in The Creator being something that could possibly disturb Darth Vader (there’s something about lacking faith with that man/machine), I found Noah to be a very powerful story—no, it won’t make me suddenly believe in God, it wasn’t THAT powerful—but from a story telling perspective and as a film, the movie is an incredible piece of work that delivers.
 
Wait...why wasn't Anthony Hopkins brought in to play the part of God?
 

Darren Aronofsky is definitely a director I enjoy—The Fountain, Pi, Requiem for a Dream are all fantastic films. The man has an amazing eye, can get rich performances from his actors, and really knows how to express a tale that is capable of hitting all emotions on the emotional spectrum. His work on Noah is, in a word, gorgeous. Not only are the visuals a feast for the old eyeballs but the striking use of color helps capture the spirit of the themes in the book. The dark, bleak looks that mirror the wickedness and hopelessness of the world and the way they balance with the rich colors of hope that springs from a new birth made the film less of action spectacle that many I know thought it was going to be from the trailer and more of a hauntingly beautiful journey.
 
"Did anyone let the dragons know about this?"

"No, fuck 'em.  They owe me money."
 

Furthermore, the cast is fantastic in the film. Once again pushing aside the happy-go-lucky versions that Fox says is the story they know, Russell Crowe delivers a realistic Noah. Crowe makes the insane story of God flooding the world and one man who builds an impossible boat to save all the animals—even wasps, why would you save those assholes?—and he makes the guy feel real. This detail is actually kinda important because, remember, the Bible is a work of fiction to me and, just like how Marvel is kicking ass with making their fictitious superheroes appear to be something that can exist in our world, Crowe made if feel like Noah could be a real dude. The weight and burden of his holy purpose is felt in the performance and Crowe delivers this in spades.
 
There was a flood in the story of Noah?  Curve ball!
 

While there were great performances from the rest of the cast like Jennifer Connelly as Noah’s wife and some great voice acting work from Mark Margolis and Nick Nolte playing the Watchers; fallen angels from heaven who now take on golem form (I’ll get to that soon), the other performance that really stood out to me was Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain. Aside from the fact that Winstone has a great voice (seriously, his voice is really cool), he was able to match Crowe’s intensity but on the opposite side of the spectrum. While Crowe comes off like a dick as Noah because he is, as Crowe states it, living with the ultimate survivor’s guilt, Winstone is coming off like an intense dick for purely selfish reasons (like, not wanting to die) and it creates great conflict. This conflict is only made sweeter by two talented actors really showcasing their stuff on screen.
 
Dude, Ray Winstone is metal as fuck in this film.
 

So, I glossed over the fact this film has walking rock monsters in it…

Honestly, there is far stranger shit that was actually in the Bible they could
have added.


These golems are fallen angels assisting Noah with saving the last shred of good that the human race still has (no thanks to you evil babies) and, for some, this addition was a little jarring. Commenters online cried out about these beings and Kevin Sorbo stated that his wife said this made the film a mixture of Transformers and Waterworld. Other than the fact that Sorbo’s wife can’t tell the difference between robots in disguise and sentient pieces of rock that were once angels from heaven, this element was a little strange for me (but this is the Bible we’re talking about, there’s some fucked up shit in there already. I’ll take some golems over the Bible’s love of incest any day). However, as the film progressed, I found these fallen angels, called Watchers, to be kinda cool and the special effects that brought them to life were fantastic. Sure, it’s the geek side of me that finds alien beings who come to Earth to protect us or men who dress as flying rodents to stop crime enjoyable that caused me to get behind this part of the film but I enjoyed it neverthless.  Additionally, it made me giggle because it started to make me think about how people were upset over the changes made in this adaptation.
 
"God here, sorry about the genocide.  It's just been one of those days.  But don't worry,
someday I'll send my son--who is me--to die horribly for your sins and then spend
the rest of time being depicted as a white dude."
 

Oh, the movie includes evolution.  Now we know the real
reason that Fox was pissed.
One thing Fox News freaked out about was the fact that God is never mentioned by name. The film overloads the story with mentions of "The Creator" and they constantly refer to "Him" and "He" but not actually saying "God" was enough to make Fox flip their lids. It seems like a minor complaint because it’s not like the film did away with him in general, but, then again, I will never understand how this type of outrage works because the same people complaining about the changes in Noah never complain about how they always make Jesus white in every film, book, picture, and piece of toast they put him on.
 
 
"Oh sweet potato pie...I wasn't prepared for all the animals' poop."
 

Noah kinda caught me by surprise. While I was sold on seeing it after viewing the trailer, I honestly thought it was probably going to end up silly and insanely simplistic like most religious films are nowadays. However, the end product was far more complex and dynamic than I had predicted. With glorious visuals, great performances, a ballsy marriage of evolution and creation, and a surprising amount of excitement and amazing special effects, Darren Aronofsky was able to take a tired old story and make it something to really behold. Maybe they should get him to do the entire Bible…
 
"Well...this world ain't going to repopulate itself.  Better get to the incest..."
 

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