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    Noah (2014): Movie Review


    It is not everyday that we get a chance to watch Biblical stories adapted into major motion pictures. But when such well-loved tales have taken a dramatic mess, you get to question modern times’ ability to translate them into huge blockbuster films without compromising good sense and credibility. With 2014’s Noah, we get to become excited yet uncomfortable audience of a Biblical spoof done in a style like “Star Wars”-meets-“Transformers”-meets-“Spartacus”-meets-“The Lord of the Rings”-meets-“Game of Thrones”-meets-“Lego”.

    Director Darren Aronofsky has infused wild imaginative ideas into the story of Noah, a very short chapter in the Book of Genesis. As the religious story is brief and contains very few details, Aronofsky takes liberty in providing his own interpretation which is a mixed of ingenuity and madness. At the start of the film, we see Noah’s back story as a boy who witnessed his father being slain by a young Tubal-cain. Many years later, Noah has a family of his own, with wife Naameh and their sons Shem, Ham and Japheth. When he dreams constantly of a great flood, Noah and his family sets off on a long journey to visit his grandfather Methuselah. Along the way, they are chased by Tubal-cain and his men, find a baby girl named Ila who they adopt, and encounter the “Watchers,” fallen angels who have become stone golems.

    After the visit, Noah plants the seed from Eden which Methuselah had given him and overnight, the entire camp area turns into a forest. Enlisting the help of his family and of the “Watchers,” Noah begins to build an ark out of the trees. With Tubal-cain and his crew closing in on them, Noah will face physical and emotional evils that will challenge his mission of cleansing the world of its sins. 


    I believe the main intention of the film is to portray Noah as an actual human figure, someone who suffers inner conflicts as he balances his desires and wishes against what he considers as sacred mission and obedience from the “Creator,” not a sinless guilt-free saints which our parents and ministers have told us when we were still kids. Director Aronofsky succeeds with this motive, as we see Noah struggles to protect his family from all dangers while trying to keep them free from all forms of sins like lust, greed and self-love. He gets lost between what is true or false, righteous or wicked, and godly or worldly. He would even sacrifice his own grandchild and destroy the entire family to atone for their mistakes. In the end, being both the hero and antihero, Noah is represented as a beefy lumbersexual daddy who is on the verge of losing his sanity.


    Well, I would have bought such story if the film has not crossed erratically from one genre to another. At one point, there’s that action-adventure feeling as the story of Cain and the Transformer-Rock hybrids called Watchers is told. Then Noah’s family embarks on a journey across landscapes that would make a great National Geographic documentary. When the flood comes, waters from the sky fall and waters from underneath Earth gust forth in an overwhelming apocalyptic scene (wait, this is supposed to happen eons ago). Just when I thought the torture of watching the movie ended, there is still so much time left. So for more minutes, the movie takes on suspense as two gritty muscular daddies battle on the ark. And finally, there is tear-jerking family drama as the flood begins to recede and Noah and his household settle on dry land.

    After watching the film, I was reminded of Martin Scorsese’s 1988 masterpiece “The Last Temptation of Christ.” Both were controversial as they put more human elements to famous Biblical figures. But Noah failed to be as thought-provoking, convincing and powerful as Scorsese’s film. Even with the stunning performances of Russell Crowe as Noah, Jennifer Connelly as his wife, Emma Watson as adopted child Ila, AnthonyHopkins as Methuselah, and Ray Winston as Tubal-cain, the film is not believable, something which will question your faith or the things you believe in. It is much too wild, imaginative and graphic to be true and compelling. With “The Last Temptation of Christ,” you will have that grateful feeling in the end that everything had turned out as the Bible says; but with Noah, there is only that utter annoyance and disbelief. Even with the main character’s pitiful strife and trials, I still feel disconnected and unsympathetic towards him. 

    As it is, Noah is a tasteless version of a classic story taken from the world’s best-selling book, straying much from the original material in its ambition of being refreshing, original and exciting. Except for the great cast and supposedly intriguing core message, the film got lost in translation as it becomes shrouded in too much CGI effects and graphic details. As a result, I can only give the film two stars out of five.


     

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    We may pursue many dreams but it is always our passions that will give our lives deeper meaning. I am an agricultural engineer by records, a university instructor by profession, and a blogger by heart...

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