Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Review: Noah

Version I Watched: Only version currently available, theatrical release. But I'll also add I went to the Marcus Theatres Ultrascreen DLX screening. Extra large screen, extra everything, like their version of an IMAX. Also they have these super comfy recliners for chairs and it is awesome! Seriously!

History: This is a passion project for Aronofsky through and through. He originally discussed it openly back in 2007. He was commenting how Noah is a figure that has fascinated him for many years. He was stated as saying Noah, to him, is a "dark, complicated character" who experiences, "real survivor's guilt."
Production began in mid-2012 with a budget of $130 million. What I'm sure is a big chunk of this budget went into creating the animal kingdom. Aronofsky reportedly used no animals in the making of this movie, but rather slightly tweaked versions of animals. Not to mention the effects needed to create a wordwide flood would have been costly.
Late in production the studio had test screenings using rough cuts of the film without Aronofsky's consent. Due to the biblical nature of the film they wanted to make sure it would be well received by the right audiences. The test screenings went poorly with many Christian groups criticizing the film. Aronofsky was very upset by these screenings because he didn't allow them. The final cut being released is in no way related to the test screenings and will not reflect any of the responses given during them.
Before release the film is already banned in multiple countries including: Bahrain, Qatar, UAE, and Egypt for obvious reasons. The censorship laws in the middle eastern countries are far stricter than they are here.
The stream of reviews are generally positive for the film, even holding a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes. As of opening weekend it is #1 at the box office, making $44 million domestically with a grand total of nearly $100 million worldwide.

Personal History: While I couldn't have seen it before this viewing I have been interested for a long time. I am a huge fan of the director, Darren Aronofsky so I'll go see anything he puts out. I own a copy of all his features which would make his filmography the most complete in my collection, technically speaking (not a lot of titles so it's easy to finish). But also as a religious man (Lutheran) I am always fascinated when a new major studio adaptation of my beliefs come out. So I was fascinated by that as well.

Review: Before we jump into the review I want to say something regarding potential response and my intentions.
If you read my blog you know the only reason it exists is for me to talk about movies, video games, and the stuff surrounding it that fascinate me. With that said I am here to talk about the movie adaptation of Noah from the perspective of a religious person's eyes. I am not here to discuss the religion itself. I only want to comment on how I felt the movie portrayed the man based on my beliefs. I do not intend to shove anything down your throat so in return I hope you can respect that and not throw anything down my throat. Some of you reading this are likely Lutherans like myself, others not but maybe another form of Christian or another religion, whereas I know there are some of you who aren't religious at all. I am not here to attack. I am here to look at a movie. Cause at the end of the day no matter what your beliefs are this is still just a movie representation of a story you may or may not believe was real.
So please, out of respect for one another do not turn this into a thread you'd find on IMDB. If you want to have your discussion then please have it elsewhere. Any harsh or harmful commentary either placed here in the blog comments or on my facebook page will be ignored and deleted (if any come up at all). Opinions about the movie itself? Fine. Heated argument about the religion? Not fine. I have my beliefs and yelling at me via text on the internet isn't going to change that. I'm not forcing you to read this review so you shouldn't force me to listen to your opinions. But if you can't get through this without having that sort of reaction then I suggest you close the window now as that sort of response will not be appreciated.
With that said here's my review.

Religious movies are almost always a tough sell to both believers and non-believers. It's an obvious tough sell to non-believers because it is going to have a level of "preaching" in the story that the non-believers may not enjoy or may not get around. But religious movies are also a tough sell to believers because of the difference of opinion on the interpretation. Even when one of the most popular and critically acclaimed religious features, The Passion of the Christ was released there was a lot of discussion internally among different Christian groups on the accuracy of the film. Since Passion was based in Catholicism that's where the interpretation would have come from mostly. Whereas if a Lutheran director made it, it would have been slightly different as would a Methodist, Baptist, denomination free, etc. But one thing they can all agree is on that the final message would be there.
It's those slight differences that I feel can be a huge hindrance not because I feel it challenges my faith (it doesn't) but because I feel most people go into these movies with the understanding that the story won't be 100% perfect, much like any other 'based on a true story' movies. I saw Saving Mr Banks a few months back. Do I believe every detail was perfect and accurate? No of course not. Liberties have to be made to cram everything into two hours more or less. Now usually the changes or alterations made in religious movies will be for different reason, but the overall message of the movie is what matters. Much like how my parents saw Son of God recently. I asked them about the inaccuracies I heard about in reviews. They recognized those were present, but they said the overall correct message was still very present. And in the end that's what matters for these religious movies.

Then of course there are times when we get religious movies not necessarily made with the same intended purpose as The Passion of the Christ or Son of God. Sometimes directors are fascinated by the religion and want to put together something as a study of it. One example that comes to mind is The Gospel According to St Matthew. The director of the film was the controversial Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini. A man who was not only a communist but also an atheist. Not the type of person who you'd expect to direct such a film. Now I haven't seen that one but it is considered one of the best and most honest portrayals of Christ put on screen. Definitely something I want to check out. If anything it could show the width Pasolini was as a director. Especially since he would eventually direct one of the most emotionally damaging films I've ever seen. Salo.

The next big one that comes to mind is The Last Temptation of Christ. This 1988 Martin Scorsese feature was very controversial when it came out. Unlike other religious films it was based on a book instead of scripture itself. Of course the book was based on scripture but the direction it took was not. The novel (and the movie of course) went through Jesus' life from his perspective while he did what he needed to, to live a perfect life and never succumb to the sins of the flesh. The story shows constant inner thoughts of Jesus having thoughts you never imagined he would have, even at times desiring not to be the person he was sent to be. There's even a 'what if' section where it shows what his life would have been if he used his Godly powers to save himself from the cross instead of going through with what he was destined to do. Safe to say the book and the movie faced crazy intense controversy. The book has wound up on banned books lists over and over again and the movie was protested when first released. Even my old Blockbuster video manager (from back in the mid-2000s) told me that when he saw it in theatres there were people outside, that day, protesting against it being shown. If anything it is a fascinating story. I've seen the movie a few times now and while there's a lot to be said going back to scripture, it's still an idea. A perspective on how it may have been if this or that happened during Christ's life or what he may have been thinking. In no way does the movie or the book state it as the true thoughts or feelings of Christ. Unlike The Da Vinci Code which Dan Brown believes to be entirely legitimate in the theories they come up with. I would love to expand on this movie one day but I'm hesitant. That may be too big and too controversial for my cute little blog to tackle.

And that brings me to Noah. A big budget biblical epic that has meet mild controversy by comparison to other religious films. Even the more accepted Passion met more controversy than this one seems to be getting. But a big part of that was the violence (again, don't need to get into that now. A whole other discussion). From the outside Noah almost seems to aim to be a modern sword and sandals epic like Ben-Hur or The Ten Commandments. Although some reviews seem to contradict that. Yet overall the reviews have been surprisingly positive. Which makes me wonder just how accurate it will be to scripture and how much of it will be artistic interpretation. Cause usually when something sticks close to God's word it is usually panned. Almost like the critics are trying to be mean about it or something. Yet going in I wondered how this movie would be simply as a straight up epic. A simple piece of entertainment. I was hoping that if it doesn't stick to the Noah story as it should be told then it'd at least exciting and engaging. And for almost 2 1/2 hours you need to be or else butt sores will be setting in quickly. But now I feel like I'm splitting hairs by making excuses for hoping to like something that could (and likely would) go against the scripture of my God (based on some of the controversy surrounding it).

Is that the case?
Well... despite knowing this wouldn't be a very accurate and potentially controversial interpretation, I still didn't expect to see what I saw. It's a bizarre movie for many reasons. It's a bizarre interpretation, it's bizarre as a blockbuster, and it's overall pretty bizarre... but in a good way.

I think the only way I can get through my thoughts is to go through just about everything chronologically. I've got a lot to say. A lot I liked, a lot I didn't like, and a lot I was confused/felt unsure about. With that said there will be lots of spoilers. Granted if you know the story of Noah you'll know how it ends. But this interpretation is so radically different you really won't know what's happening next. Once I get beyond the point of the flood actually happening and them on the ark I will point out if it's a spoiler or not. Otherwise before that there's plenty to talk about without ruining the experience with the exception of a few things that eventually cause other events later in the movie.

Since the story of Noah is one of the earliest in the Bible it would make sense to start the movie out talking about the beginning of the world. In a very quick and artsy montage it goes through the story of creation and the few generations of people that led up to it. It also introduced something new that I wasn't expecting that wound up playing something of a big role later in the story. According to this version of creation there were angels known as watchers exiled from heaven and it is because of these watchers that mankind was able to advance so fast and cover the earth in just a few hundred years. These bugged me a bit but more on that later when they play a more prominent role in Noah's story building the ark.
What I did like about this sequence was it established the wickedness of the world at the time. The reason God sent the flood was to destroy the wickedness of man to cleanse the earth and start fresh. After only a few hundred years at the start of the world it establishes that civilization has advanced pretty far. Something that has been theorized about quite a bit. And I liked the way this world looked because it's a further advancement than many would assume for this period. But like some of those theories I mentioned they too were pretty far advanced. Which is fascinating to think about but not totally unreal. Think about how much our civilization has advanced in the last one to two hundred years. It's definitely possible that the advancement could have gone this far back then (especially if they had these angel watchers helping out I guess). Not that everyone is talking on cell phones, but the setting resembled more of a dark ages look than what you would see in DeMille's Ten Commandments.

Come to think of it, it might be even harder to place than that. They have pants.

It establishes very fast that this is unlike any Biblical epic you've ever seen before. Is that a bad thing? No I wouldn't necessarily say so. I wouldn't say I have a problem with Biblical movies. I'm fascinated by the different perspectives and interpretations they can take on the stories I've been told since before I can remember. It's a very personal experience for me so that's likely the reason why I get so into them. But once you've seen stuff like Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments you start to realize a lot of them all look the same. Not saying it has to take a timeless setting like when a theatre director decides to set Hamlet in modern times or make Romeo and Juliet about cavemen (That would be amazing! Someone make a phone call!). Obviously all these stories happened in a very specific time of the world but for some reason they all tend to look like they're wearing the same costumes made by the same designer with little to no change from one another. And I think one of the many reasons I enjoyed this movie was because it experimented with a new visual style. The ark for example was more square, shoebox shaped than a traditional ship usually seen in Noah adaptations, paintings, etc. It felt more manmade for the time than the smooth look adapters usually go with. This was a man with his family building the ship, not a group on contractors with electric tools and everything. My full thoughts on the style for these movies is hard to explain but I think these next bit of thoughts will help.
Ladies, gents, the Bible is as dark and violent as it is bright and inspirational. Going back to the more recent go to Christ movie, The Passion, it can be vicious. The stories are filled with murder, torture, drunkenness, prostitution, and the list goes on and on. Ironically I think one of the biggest issues with faith based movies is that they can be a bit too glossy in their presentation. This is understandable since many Christians are very conservative and not interested in seeing the intense violence and sex in the Bible adapted to the big screen. Totally get it. But there is definitely a place for the unfiltered Biblical stories. I remember when The Passion came out and the major complaint was the violence. It became such a big thing that I remember The Simpsons doing a parody where their religious neighbor Ned Flanders did a series of movies from the Bible in the style of The Passion filled with crazy intense violence. Obviously the way the violence was used in The Passion is up for debate, but still the story of Christ's death and resurrection was vicious. Hence why it is so inspirational. We see what he went through for us. And when I left The Passion after my first screening I felt this feeling I've never felt before and never did again from a movie. I can't even describe it but that's because there aren't enough truly honest, truly brutal Biblical films out there.
I'm not saying this just to see more guts and gore on screen. I can see that in all of my favorite horror movies. The reason why I'm saying that is because the stories can be presented in a way that won't turn off unbelievers. If someone isn't a believer chances are they won't want to watch a movie with a preachy tone. Even some believers can be turned off when something is overly preachy. That's why we go to church, for the preaching. But if we're watching a movie based on our faith it is good to see the straight story as we know it. Hence the discussions and round tables that churches and other groups have after one of these new faith based movies come out. That's where the discussion and preaching happens, not during the movie itself. Because it's the overall message of the story that is preached, but that message wasn't necessarily preached during the actual story because the message wasn't 100% there in all the stories until after they happened.
I feel I've gotten a little off track...

What I'm trying to say is I appreciated how dark Noah was willing to go. When you think about it this is one of the most violent stories in the Bible, with the exception of Revelations. God destroys the world with a flood to rid it of all the wickedness that had risen. It's a bit of an apocalyptic story with a happy outcome because the world doesn't actually end in the end (not really a spoiler). The darkness of this movie aided the story in it's purpose of ridding that wickedness. Cause when the flood hits that is death for the entire world except this small family. Which brings me to one of my first issues with the movie.
In the Bible Noah is directly told by God to build the ark. He gives him all the details, tells him what to do with the animals, no second guessing. What happened here was a lot different. Instead of being told directly, Noah is given visions from God in his dreams. So it's all up for interpretation by Noah. Something he is able to figure out pretty quickly and easily but still it was quite different, almost setting up that there's the possibility of failure if Noah doesn't interpret the message correctly. Even after these visions he still needs some explanation from the watchers and from Methuselah before he gets it one hundred percent down. I will say this, the visions were as beautiful as they were terrifying.
In these visions Noah finds himself standing in a field in front of a mountain. Beneath him the dirt is drenched in blood. Suddenly everything around him is engulfed in a sea of water with thousands of death and dying bodies floating from the depths. These dark images mixed with the gorgeously unsettling score make for imagery you wouldn't normally see in a Biblical movie. And it's imagery like this that makes Aronofsky one of my favorite directors (I'd say second favorite right behind Kubrick). In most of his movies, even if the genre doesn't call for it, he finds a way to terrify or make me feel unsettled. Requiem for a Dream has numerous examples, but also in Black Swan when things get super intense in the second half it shows this talent. Noah is no exception as these sorts of terrifying images with haunting music come up time and time again. And it didn't feel inappropriate to have either.

Now that I've reached the right spot in the story let's talk about my... *sigh*... 'favorite' part of the movie. The watchers.
As I stated earlier, but to remind you, watchers are angels exiled from heaven sent to live on earth and eventually help man to establish the high point of civilization they do hit by the time the flood comes. What I would say I had more of a problem with was their design and execution. I'm not against the idea of angels living among us or influencing us. But I did have an issue with how these angels were handled. Basically when these angels were sent from heaven they literally became one with the earth. The result was that these heavenly creatures went from glowing gold spirits to something looks like a cross between General Grievous, Megatron, and a pile of rocks.

Seriously. Remove the lightsabers. Size of a house. Covered in rocks.

The obvious reason why I didn't like this is because this is playing super fast and very loose with the original content. I just couldn't grasp where Aronofsky was coming from with these creatures. I was never able to figure out why they are there outside of serving as literal guardian angels. But even then in the Bible there was no mention of a creature even remotely close to this. I'm not opposed to unique interpretations of the Bible as everyone reads it slightly differently, but where did this come from? It felt very out of place, even from a traditional storytelling perspective if you were to remove any thought of this being based on a Biblical story. No where else are there creatures remotely resembling these, or anything really like them at all. It didn't feel like a world where that sort of thing would be around so they felt more shoehorned in than anything.
It does change the dynamic of the story having the watchers present. First of all they serve as a bit of a exposition machine early on when Noah and his family go to see Methuselah. Then they actually help Noah build the ark, which was odd to see in the sweeping crane shots. Here's this very manmade-looking ark being built by what are supposed to be exiled angels in the form of rock creatures. When you look at everything else that happens in the story they just feel so crazy out of place. Then again I'm sure this is the section when a lot of people would try and call out other stuff that supposedly doesn't work in the Bible, but that's a totally different conversation. Speaking from the perspective of a lifelong Christian, this was an odd choice for this story. Not to mention there's a battle sequence with them that is reminiscent of Lord of the Rings right before the flood hits.

Something I did like that felt like a legitimate interpretation of what could have happened were Noah's sons desires to bring a wife of their own aboard as well as the outsiders desire to come aboard the ark when the flood is clearly imminent.
You may have noticed that Emma Watson is credited in this movie. Well her character is unique as she is never directly referenced in the Bible. Her character, Ila, was found left for dead with a deep wound in her stomach where they firmly establish her characteristic, that she may never have children because of it. In the end she winds up Noah's adopted daughter. But that doesn't stop her from becoming romantically involved with Noah's actual son Shem. Since it is established her wound won't allow her to have children there's a struggle among the sons to have wives themselves to carry on their legacy.
Looking straight into the Bible we do see that the sons have wives when the flood happens. However in this story it's totally different. Since the world is so wicked Noah has really cut himself and his entire family off from the rest of the world. Not really giving them a chance to have wives. Still there are plenty of timeline issues that differ greatly from the original story. One of which was that Noah was five hundred years old when he was called upon to build the ark and was then six hundred when the flood actually happened. Whereas here Noah looks to be in his forties, maybe fifties when called by God, and then no more than ten years pass throughout the rest of the story. All his children are still young, barely adults. They haven't had the chance to find wives so their desire is strong and understandable especially if there will be no more left when the flood comes.
This totally works in this situation. Thinking of all the struggle all the people represented in the Bible go through I can see this happening. If his three sons didn't have wives and something that would wipe out all life was coming then it would make sense for them to be scared, anxious, and angry about it. Thankfully for the sake of mankind Ila is given the ability to have children by Methuselah* just before the flood hits. Which follows up immediately with Ila and Shem having sex in the woods in a only sorta surprising move. But when Noah's other son, Ham, tries to find a wife it doesn't turn out so well. In fact he finds a strange girl in town who Ham sees as good. When the flood starts happening they run back to the ark as fast as they can only for Ham to make it back alive but not so much for the girl he just met. As a matter of fact she is trampled to death by an army attempting to break into Noah's Ark to save themselves.

A group that figured out Noah was chosen by God himself to be the survivor of this flood. This is another one of those things I feel totally works in this story. In the Bible there were many people who thought Noah was just wasting his time and didn't believe him. Of course those people paid the price for their ignorance and lack of faith. However I can only imagine there could have been some stragglers who wondered if he really was doing God's will and maybe they wanted to get on the ark with him. One can wonder if Noah actually had to fight off people from getting on the ark. This does take that idea but explodes it to an astronomical number. Right as the flood starts this army, that trampled Ham's newly found girlfriend after she got caught in a bear trap, storms the ark to take it themselves. They are stopped by the... *sigh*... watchers who are working as a barricade. This is the Lord of the Rings moment I mentioned earlier. The watchers are swinging, stomping and slamming this army away from the ark. I may scoff at the watchers and how weird the placement of this moment is, but once the flood comes it goes from odd to epic.
Earlier when Methuselah helped Noah with preparation for the ark one of the things he gave him was a seed from the Garden of Eden. When Noah planted it the seed created a burst of flowing water from the ground, something like if a pipe exploded and was now leaking through the streets. This water spread throughout the desert he was occupying at the time creating lush forests for him to build the ark with. In that similar fashion when the flood itself began it didn't just rain down. During this battle the ground beneath them explodes like a geyser with rivers of water shooting straight up into the sky. It was crazy to see because the flooding process was quickly speeding up. Also the way the disaster happened felt a lot more, dare I say, Biblical?

So from here on out it's gonna be even more spoilerific. I've got a lot of commentary pertaining to late/end of story stuff. If you still want to see the movie but want to be kept in suspense on what happens next then skip ahead to the point where I say spoilers end. I'll make it obvious.

The ark is afloat with all the animals and Noah's family on board. Everything seems to have calmed down for them in one way at least. The scene that follows the ark setting sail (for a lack of better words) is one of the most haunting to me for a couple reasons.
The main reason is because it gave me an insight into the story I never really thought about until it was pushed onto me by this movie. When they first take off there are literally hundreds of thousands of people in the area surrounding the ark. We see moments from the inside of all the screaming, dying voices outside. And even in a brief moment we are treated to the disturbing image of hundreds of people all trying to cling onto what looks like the peak of a mountain, only to be blown away by a rogue wave. Cut back to Noah and his family sitting down to a meal and it makes it even more unsettling. They have to sit there and listen to thousands of dying voices surround them. I'm starting to understand what Aronofsky meant by "Survivor's guilt."
But the next thing that comes up I have plenty of issue with.

Noah tells his family the story of creation.
All seems well at first. He talks about what was done each day with some flowery expansions here and there. Not exactly the way it's presented in the Bible but that's understandable since he's telling it from memory. I don't recall exactly how his entire rendition of the creation story went because I was really distracted by the imagery. Among the story of creation Aronofsky decided to include imagery suggestive of the big bang and evolution. I think you can see where this is going.
A few years back I heard a new belief that some still believe in God and how he created us, but he used evolution to get it started. This is a theory I definitely have my issues with, but like I stated in my preface we're not gonna get into stuff like that. I don't know if that's what Aronofsky was going for here or not. Maybe if he established the world a little bit differently then maybe his inclusions could make somewhat more sense in his alternate universe (Meaning you'd still have to change a lot to make it work seeing as how the Bible is very clear with creation).
What I had problems with on this inclusion is that he already established this world to be (altered yes but) the same world that the Bible is talking about. Even at the start of the movie they briefly talk about creation, the fall into sin, the first murder, and the lineage that leads up to Noah. You know, exactly the same stuff that is talked about within the first few chapters of Genesis. And so if he is going based on that then why try and include elements of a theory that is vastly different from what scripture says? Over and over they reference Adam and Eve and even present them as holy creatures. Not only that but typically the perspective of evolution wouldn't have an account for things like the watchers existing or the way the flood comes up, OR how God himself speaks to Noah through his dreams, and so forth and so forth. It just throws a wrench into the wheel of the story giving completely polarizing origins like this is the start of a new Tenchi Muyo franchise (obscure anime reference, check.)
I realize there's also the idea that this setting doesn't really have a place in time. At least not hardcore established. Emma Watson herself stated how it is so ambiguous that it could be placed a thousand years into the past or even the future. Well that goes back to the thoughts on what the world was like before the flood happened with the early advancement of civilization. But again this movie clearly establishes that this is not long after creation, God is definitely present, and that what we know from the Bible did in fact happen and it trails down to the point when Noah existed per the Bible's details. Throwing in extra suggestions of evolution just doesn't make sense for this movie to do outside of potentially cause an upset. I just don't see the purpose of adding it in (outside of the obvious). I don't understand the point Aronofsky is trying to make.

The next chunk, and really just about everything that happens from here on out until the end is really dark and took quite a turn I did not see coming. In terms of traditional storytelling it is a logical move, yet again it plays fast and loose with the story of Noah. 
When reflecting on his duties given to him by God Noah brings up a new interpretation of what comes next. Noah understands the purpose of the flood was to wipe out the wicked people that have taken over the earth. But he soon reflected on himself and his family. Again this is the issue with having the message sent to him via dream instead of God speaking directly, the issue that something could go wrong. What he soon interprets is that ALL man must be extinct. That people in general are wicked and that they must no longer reproduce. During the same meal he tells the story of creation among the screaming voices outside he tells each of his children who will bury who, with the obvious end being the last man alive, ever. Noah for the last act stops being the protagonist and starts being the antagonist.
Remember when I said Ila and Shem had sex back before the flood started? Well Ila is pregnant. And when Noah finds out things get even darker. Noah states if it is a girl he will murder the baby right as it's born to avoid it conceiving any more children.
While this is going on there is another evil hidden aboard the ark. The man who lead the army, Tubal-Cain found a way onto the ship as the flood was starting. Since then Noah's own son Ham has been helping him stay alive and well. He first states it's not because Noah refused to rescue the kind girl Ham just met in town, but the undertone was definitely there. Tabul-Cain makes deals with Ham and revenge definitely comes into play fast.
At the end of Ila's pregnancy is when Tabul-Cain and Ham make their move. Ila is having her child shortly after Noah destroyed Ila's and Shem's escape boat. While marching his way to Ila he is distracted by Ham who tells Noah the animals were devouring each other. Taking the more immediate task at hand Noah goes to investigate this claim. That's when Tabul-Cain and Noah get in an all out brawl where Ham is responsible for killing Noah in a weakened state if Tabul-Cain fails. In the end Noah survives because Ham has a change of heart and kills Tabul-Cain instead.
Sadly the children born of Ila are twin girls. Noah chases Ila down. While standing at the top of the ship the movie takes one if it's darkest routes when she begs Noah to let them die calm and not crying. She sings to them a song Noah sang to her when she was a young girl. They calm down. These two beautiful, newborn baby girls are being held in their mother's arms while Noah pulls his knife up and is literally inches away from killing them. Granted the movie is PG-13 and I doubted he would actually kill them but the tension was there and had me on the edge of my seat.

So in the third act Noah turns into a psychopath with the intent of killing his own grandchildren all because he misinterpreted God's commands. One could argue that he was being tested by God but I didn't get that vibe. Definitely a dark route to take. (Don't worry, everything ends well) But much like the rock monsters and the mixing of evolution into the creation story I just don't know where Aronofsky is coming from with all this. I'm trying to understand why he chose to make Noah so insane in many moments. I know Aronofsky saw Noah as a dark and complex character, but when was there hints of something like that in the Bible? Obviously the same can be said for something I mention waaaaay back in the beginning of my review with The Last Temptation of Christ. But that book/movie explicitly states it was a study and not based on scripture. I'm not saying this one believes everything it says to be true, but when you get people in there who never knew the Noah story some may then ask their Christian friends if Noah really tried to kill his own grandchildren while on the ark.


I understand that all of this is a character study for Aronofsky. I'm just trying to figure out what he's trying to say with all this. There's clearly a lot more being said here other than "this is my version of Noah." There is clearly deeply rooted belief about the man that drove Aronofsky to write him in such a way. This is a strange, deep, and puzzling piece of film for sure. Easily one of the most bizarre and artsy action blockbusters I've ever seen. I really can't think of anything like it. It's unlike other Biblical stories I've seen, maybe with the exception of Last Temptation of Christ. It's also unlike any other big budget blockbuster I've seen. You just don't see stuff like this in blockbusters unless they're from a credible director, something Aronofsky definitely is.
Now there are a lot of things I didn't touch on because the post would have been ages longer than it already is with what I've talked about up to this point. I didn't really comment on Methuselah, how Noah and his family use some strange incense that puts animals to sleep but not people, I didn't talk about the wickedness of the local city when Noah visits, the somewhat corny way the movie ends and really a lot more than that. The movie is nearly two and a half hours long with a lot going on. I do want to watch this more so I can pick up on other stuff I may have missed, too.
I do wonder how this will hit religious movies as a whole. I can only imagine some thinking this could hurt or mess with the faith of some people but I don't think that's true. Yes it's been banned in multiple countries for that very reason. But the way it all plays out, while artsy, is still very movie if you catch what I mean. There's plenty of inspiration from other big budget movies both Biblical and not. And with how many religious movies that have and will be coming out this year, including: Son of God, God Is Not Dead, Heaven Is For Real, and Exodus (where Christian Bale is Moses) this one will definitely be the odd duck out for both good and bad reasons.
The good reasons being that it was willing to take a darker route I feel more religious films should take. In the sermons I hear every Sunday there is plenty of darkness in the law only to be redeemed by the gospel. So why can't the films based on that same faith be dark as well? (Come to think of it the Luther movie had some intense scenes in it, but that's not as relevant). The bad of course being that it plays fast and loose with the story. I can't expect it to perfectly align with what I interpret the story to be. There were just lots of clear and obvious trailing off from the original story. Changes that would be obviously not part of scripture and were put in either for dramatic, storytelling, exciting, or artistic purposes.
The only thing I wonder is if this will help pioneer a new series of Biblical movies that take their own route with the story. If this movie can get made then what's stopping a studio from making en epic about the book of Revelations, done in the style of the Clash of the Titans remake, with as much accuracy as the video game adaptation of Dante's Inferno.

Aronofsky still has something of a perfect record to me. Not that all his movies are perfect but that I've enjoyed each and every one of his movies. I can think of other directors I love just about as much but they have one, two, or a few where I just don't like some of their movies. Aronofsky is not one of those. For what it's worth I did enjoy Noah as a movie. There were just a lot of liberties taken that I didn't care for. Other than that it is still exciting and epic. If you get a chance to see it on the big, big screen (like the IMAX) I would recommend it. It makes those especially exciting moments even more exciting. Like when the flood first hits.
To my Christian readers. Depending on what all you read before this (whether you skipped the end of movie spoilers or not) it is good you realize what you're getting into. Not saying you have to read up on everything about it before taking the plunge. Just know that this will definitely not be accurate and you will have problems with it. You do not have to support it, obviously. Still it's a solid movie with great character and overall satisfying experience. You may even find a few things you like whether it's in style or a new perspective on the story you never thought of before. If you do watch it just remember this is only a movie. It doesn't change what your faith says just like how it doesn't change the words in the Bible. But if your pastor starts preaching that this is more accurate than anything he's ever seen or read you may want to wonder...

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