“Thanks to musical theatre, every time I hear the name “”Noah””, my brain completes it with “”Oh Noah, you go-ah, all the way back to the protozoa””. Aronofsky’s Noah, however, does not go-ah.
I had cautiously lowered the expectations bar for this. Really, the only thing that put it on the must list for me was Darren Aronofsky directing. But I knew full well that this would not venture into the Requiem For a Dream or Black Swan territory that I love him for. Well, maybe it did slightly (more in a bit), but for all intents and purposes let’s say it veered. I haven’t seen The Fountain yet (Best Buy just shipped it to me), but I’d venture to say that’s the previous work of his it most resembles. And well all remember how that turned out, or at least what people were saying about it.
Noah had lots of issues, which I will gladly get into. Some were more forgivable than others. Wherever you side on the moral debate or the artistic debate, the bottom line is the core of the film was boring. Such a slow and plodding pace, which is a very bad thing when your movie clocks over two hours. It took ages for anything to happen, and I’m still not entirely sure how they were filling all that time. I like the younguns, specifically Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, but I’ve never liked Russell Crowe (Gladiator being the only exception) nor have I much cared for Jennifer Connolly. It was also a waste of Anthony Hopkins, Hollywood treasure reduced to a laughable role in a painfully bad film.
As an Aronofsky fan, there were a couple subtleties I picked up on that I could appreciate. There were some roughly cut rapid time progression shots that looked really cool. The biggest Aronofksy-ism was completely lost on me until later. True, maybe if I was more familiar with The Fountain, I may have caught it. Here, it was how he was playing with time and setting. As I assumed most people did, I just thought it was set in biblical times. Which then made it really weird when I noticed how well defined and modernly detailed their clothing looked (a friend said it looked like “”a gap button-down shirt underneath [their] animal skins). One shot of Noah looked to me like my Dad wearing a Polo shirt and jeans about to go work on the garage. The animals also looked more like something Riddick would have made friends with on another planet. Then there was the things that I can only describe as the spark of creation, though I’m sure that’s not what they were going for.
Turns out, all those inconsistencies were because you weren’t necessarily supposed to make the assumption this was set in Biblical times. Aronofsky meant for it to be more lost in time and ageless. Maybe it happened back then. Maybe it’s 2000 years in the future. Maybe it’s happening right now in a parallel universe. Um okay. In retrospect, that might have been a cool idea, but it did not come across at all. If there was ever any subject matter you have to be careful with, it’s Biblical stories. I feel it’s okay to play around with that source material as long as you’re clear on your intentions. This was a lot of mixed signals.
They veered from the Biblical story, but weren’t brave enough to flat out say it was their own thing. That last minute disclaimer that got added to the ad campaign just planted them more firmly on the fence. As someone who was raised with the story and knows it very well, some changes bothered me more than others. And because the intentions of the filmmakers were ambiguous, when it bothered me, it really bothered me. I feel like if I had known what the vision was beforehand, I could have more quickly forgiven what I didn’t like.
There were some, shall we say, unique interpertations taken towards Noah’s motivation, particularly as the flood got going (btw, if you think me mentioning the flood is a spoiler, you’ve got your own problems). While I didn’t necessarily like where it went, I think if Aronofsky would have really let loose with his brand of psychological thriller that he’s so wonderful at, we could have had something really cool. I feel like once he went there, he already lost a part of his audience (if he hadn’t already), so why not just go full out? But in playing it just safe enough, to try not to upset people by going too far, it just didn’t work. Again, pick a thought and stick to it. Don’t toe the line trying not to offend people and end up turning off even more of them.
Right so not a good movie. I’d say disappointing just because I would have expected better from Aronofsky. I realize I’m really throwing him under the bus, and it may not have been all his fault. Apparently there were some disputes between him and the studio and they made some unauthorized changes. So they’re likely the ones who are more to blame for the mess. Maybe if he had his way, we could have had a Genesis meets Requiem sort of film, which could have been amazing. Instead, we just got a thrown together mess that was so ridiculously slow paced for what is possible humanity’s oldest action story. So much wasted potential. Way to live up to the expectations that the end product wouldn’t be worth my time.
Noah – \m/ \n