Review of Noah: How Long Can You Tread Water?

Last night I went to see the film “Noah” directed by one of my favorite directors Darren Aronofsky. I’m not sure what I expected going into this film as I’m not a religious person and I’m not a big Russell Crowe fan. I had seen that some of my Facebook friends had panned the film and I wanted to see what the commotion was about.

I reached a bit of an impasse with my chess blogs (Anand won). And because a certain local independent cinema that will remain nameless decided to play the same movie in three of their theaters; I decided to give Noah a whirl. (No one will bully me into seeing another goddamn Wes Anderson movie; he’s the Radiohead of directors at the moment). TL;DR: I didn’t enjoy watching Noah, you can wait for this one to hit Netflix.

I want to reiterate that Darren Aronofsky is (was?) one of my favorite directors, I loved Pi (judge all you want), Requim was amazeballs, and Black Swan was a masterpiece. Here is my comprehensive list of best Aronofsky films:

  1. Pi
  2. Black Swan
  3. Requiem for a Dream
  4. The Wrestler
  5. The Fountain
  6. A really satisfying bowel movement I had last week while I read about Aronofsky on IMDB
  7. Noah

So let’s start with the basics so we can all be on the same page about the plot points:

  • Crazy guy builds an ark (same as in that book you all read), so far so good.
  • Crazy guy collects animals in pairs, check.
  • Crazy guy gets on the ark with family, check.
  • Flood comes, check.
  • Crazy guy finds land via a dove with a branch, check.

If you’re anything like me that’s pretty much what you remember from what you learned at your religious school. There were a lot of details in the movie that I don’t recall learning as a kid; so I did what anyone would do, I hit the books. Yes, I re-read the story of Noah and the Ark (which is available online with commentary for those interested). What I remembered pretty much aligned quite well to the actual story. The key plot points all lined up.

As anybody could have predicted they took quite a few liberties with the story. A friend of mine was concerned about the “environmentalist agenda” that the film seemed to portray. If that’s something you’re concerned about you’ll be a lot more upset by the “liberties” they have taken with the story than you will be with the “agenda” some claim it promotes. There were two amusing moments when I expected the Lorax to pop out and for Noah to save the Truffula trees and the Swomee-Swans (Spoiler, he let them drown. RIP).

Noah let the lorax drown...smh
Noah let the Lorax drown…smh

Aside from those two episodes I didn’t understand “environmentalist agenda” take, it’s possible I missed something though.

Here is how the film broke down for me:

  • I spent Forty percent of my time rolling my eyes at the overacting done by almost every character in the film.
  • I spent thirty percent of my time wondering if that was what was in that book that we all claim we read (spoiler, it wasn’t).
  • Ten percent of my time trying to remember the name of that British comedian who looks like the actor that plays Shem (Russel Brand).
  • I spent ten percent of my time (perhaps more) ogling at Emma Watson.
  • Russel Crowe impressed me with his performance which encompassed the final ten percent and is the only reason this film was close to watchable.

There is a lot wrong with this film, but one of the main problems is the general lack of direction and lack of clear audience. Also why the f*** does everyone in antiquity have British accents? Every movie see that is set in biblical times incorporates bad British accents that just serve as a distraction. Just once I’d like to see a film set in antiquity where they all have thick Russian accents, because to me that’s how the faux British accents sound.

The special effects were pretty cool (aren’t they always?). One viewer behind me was so impressed he exclaimed, “Wow!” where they show earth with all the hurricanes; he must not get out much. The scene where the birds are flying over the earth was reminiscent of the Hitchcock film, “The Birds” and again just served as a distraction.

I haven’t seen a film this disappointing since The Purge. I really hope Aronofsky is able to put this behind him and get back to making good films. Here are some other reviews that agree with my perspective (as well as a good one from Bob Mondello):

City Newspaper


Bob Mondello for NPR

  1 comment for “Review of Noah: How Long Can You Tread Water?

  1. Michael Alexander
    April 3, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    I was most disappointed to find that clicking on the “Emma Watson” tag didn’t lead me to more blog entries.

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