Monday, 13 October 2014

Noah

Lowdown: The biblical story, rebooted.
Review:
One of my core complaints against the recent Peter Jackson filming of The Hobbit is that Jackson takes a beautiful short story and adds to it, with the end result being – in my opinion – significantly interior to the original. Yes, even when taking into account the need to cross the dreaded book/movie barrier.
Noah presents its viewers with the same sort of an abomination. Take a familiar short story, and add tons to it so as to be able to make a star studded movie version. The key difference between The Hobbit and Noah? While the former is a wonderful children’s fantasy tale, the latter is not a story one can relate to or identify with. It is also a story that fails to make sense at many a level, compared with the first which does not pretend to be anything more than fantastic. Perhaps we should thus be thankful to Noah, the movie, for making it bluntly obvious how silly this biblical story some still allege to be genuine is?
So yes, Noah isn't all too loyal to the original tale (that was, if you were to critically study the Bible, copied from even more ancient tales). This version has lots of things added to it, but most importantly its portrayal of the sinful world God wants to get rid of differs. This time around God does not want to destroy humanity because it's evil, but rather because of what it's doing to the earth. In other words, this is the green 21st century take on the story.
Alas, the very core assumption behind the tale of Noah is problematically handled. I’m not talking about the mysterious koalas, who managed to find their way across land and sea from Noah’s ark all the way to Australia without leaving a shred of evidence of their epic journey. I’m talking about the basic ethical discussion that drives Noah's character and thus Noah the movie.
Humanity is evil/doing evil things to the earth, so it is alleged, and therefore God decides that only descendants of Seth (Adam & Eve’s third son, who - like Cain - managed to somehow reproduce despite the obvious lack of females in the vicinity) are to be left in this world. And, according to the same God, the best way to achieve this goal is to kill not only the sinful descendants of Cain but also destroy the whole world in the process. Note the assumption that evil runs in one’s blood. Also note that Noah (Russell Crowe) is far from purity either, being quite good at killing when given an opportunity. His sons, Shem, Cham and Yefet are all flawed, too – just like all people still are. But still, God perseveres with His agenda, while communicating his divine plans using vague and vastly open to interpretation means. I would have said that destroying the world justifies direct communication, but God chooses to persist with His mysterious ways.
These ways are good enough, though, to create all sorts of conflicts with the movie characters, starting from Noah and moving through sons, adopted Cain descendant daughter (Emma Watson) and wife (Jennifer Connelly). None of these should make sense to a thinking human being. Take, for example, the question of whether Noah should seriously consider the murder of his grandchild because of his particular interpretation of a dream? But that’s the type of thing that drives Noah, the movie. And that’s the type of thing that convinced me that watching Noah, the movie, was a complete waste of north of two hours of my life.
In its awkward way, Noah is there to provide a message of redemption. We can redeem ourselves before God even in dying, it argues. Well, I will counter argue that Noah is just another flawed product from the same mystically wrapped brains of director Darren Aronofsky. If it’s Noah’s origins that you seek, look no further than his The Fountain; it's yet another movie about people struggling to reconcile their faith with a world that's sending them contradicting messages.
Overall: Between its inconsistencies and the way it abuses the acting talent at its disposal (think Connelly), Noah is a serious wasteland of a movie. 1.5 out of 5 crabs managed to survive this flood.

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