Why Watching Christian Blockbuster 'Noah' Is Like Sitting in a Giant Bathtub
Photo Credit: MOVIECLIPSdotcom; Screenshot / YouTube.com
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"Are you there, God? It's me, Noah!"
It would have been nice if Darren Aronofsky had found a way to work this line into his new Biblical epic, “Noah.” The film has just about everything else, including animals marching two by two, beards bushy enough to blot out the sun, giant transformers made out of boulders, divine smiting, and so much glowering Russell Crowe one might be forgiven for dampening one's movie seat.
The decision to make a movie about Noah and his big boat might seem a highly questionable enterprise, but bad ideas never seem to stop anyone lately. The bigger, the badder, the better, and with a running time of approximately 120,000 minutes, Aronofsky's latest joins the ranks of films that never seem to end.
The tale that you remember from your childhood wouldn't make for much a movie, so there is a lot of extrapolation that must be added on with bits of wire and binder twine. But in all this vast expanse and longwinded exposition, there is very little that feels real. Not real in the sense of "Gee, those computer generated animals look awfully lifelike," but more importantly, real as in "Hmm, I feel some genuine emotion happening down there." Or simply, "I have wet my pants."
In the centre of all this stands Russell Crowe, thick of body, and sporting various hairstyles that wouldn't look out of place on Vancouver's Main Street: long and mane-like, shaved and serious, or sticking out like a drunk porcupine. Meaty in every sense of the word, you could chew on him for a while before you even made much of a dent. Russell gives his portrayal of the Biblical patriarch the old college try. Old is the operative word here, since in the original story Noah was over 500 years old before things even got going.
Jennifer Connelly, who plays Noah's wife Naameh, has come a very long way from her first outing with Aronofsky, one “Requiem for a Dream,” which, if you recall, involved a deeply unfortunate sex scene. No more up the bum for this lady! In “Noah,” she is the matriarch of the holiest family, stripped of eyeliner and forced to wear artfully woven clothes that look like they came from Eileen Fisher's new collection. She may have a name that sounds like it came from the front end of a sheep, but she is holier-than-thou all the way through the movie. The rest of the cast do their thespian best, but they often seem confused by the proceedings.
The only person who seems to be having fun is crazy old Ray Winstone, channeling antediluvian reality by way of Essex.
'What the hell?'
Unlike religious epics of old, “Noah” does not take place in some Hollywood back-lot version of ancient Egypt, but is rather a bowdlerized version of the Old Testament mixed with science fiction. God is somewhere lurking behind the clouds, but so are some strange fantasy beasts and a magical Methuselah (played by Anthony Hopkins). The entire thing seems odd and out of joint, like it was put together in the dark. It is hard even to encapsulate the plot without sounding vaguely insane, but we will press on.
The story kicks off with a lesson in genealogy. Adam and Eve begat Cain, Abel and some other schlub named Seth. Cain bonked Abel with a rock, and then went on to begat Ray Winstone. "What the hell?" is the only reasonable thing to say to that. Meanwhile, Seth popped out a few kids of his own, one of whom eventually gives rise to our Noah, the last good guy on earth.