MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Noah’ washes expectations away

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First Posted: 3/28/2014

Making a film like “Noah” is an unenviable task because films like “Noah” carry a set level of expectations from their audience. And if those expectations aren’t met, then audiences become angry and irrational. Always the iconoclast, director Darren Aronofsky did not bend to easy audience expectations when he made “Noah.” Even though he had to know that his vision would be hated by the Christian Right and banned in countries like Bahrain and Indonesia, Aronofsky bravely looked the world in the eye and said, “This is my film, my vision, and Russell Crowe will not be shown beating a bellhop with a hotel courtesy phone as he winks at the camera.”

“Is that really why people are so upset about this film?” you may ask. “Isn’t it because of something else?” you add. Well, I believe I speak for all of the Muslims and Christians in the world when I say how insulting it is whenever Crowe isn’t shown sarcastically beating a bellhop with a hotel courtesy phone in a movie. When Crowe beat a bellhop with a hotel courtesy phone in 2005, he should have been commenting on it impishly in every movie he appeared in in the same way Charlie Sheen pokes fun at the fact that he’s a garbage idiot who punches hookers in the face in every bad sitcom and low budget parody film he appears in. But he hasn’t, and it’s one of the many prejudices I must face as a white, privileged, Christian man in America today. As for the second part of your question, what do you mean “something else?” Weren’t there neo-Tolkien rock monsters in the Bible? What were Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego? Mummies?

Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that bellhops emerge from the movie unscathed and the premise is significantly less Bible-y than expected, “Noah” deserves your attention because it’s Old Testament fan fiction written by the bad, bad ghosts that live inside Aronofsky’s brain. In other words, it’s just really weird. But understand that’s a good thing because even though “Noah’s” connection to the Genesis parable is frequently tenuous at best, Aronofsky repurposes this overly familiar story to give us something that is personal, wrongheaded, kitschy, and very entertaining. In Aronofsky’s “Noah,” God (or “The Creator,” as He’s dubbed in the film) hates humanity’s guts. He’s tired of us picking His flowers and eating His precious animals and simply uses Noah (Crowe) as a means to an end. He doesn’t care if Noah lives or dies or manages to repopulate the Earth; He just wants His animals not to drown. In effect, humanity has touch-a-ed His car and He broke-a our faces.

Additionally, Noah is depicted as a sadomasochist with a persecution complex who thinks that The Creator is mad at him because he’s not killing enough people and eventually winds up stranded on an island drinking the biblical equivalent to prison wine. In essence, God is portrayed as a petty yet omnipotent PETA member while Noah is just a serial killer with decent carpentry skills. Some may find this to be sacrilegious or distasteful; I, however, enjoyed it. I enjoyed it a lot.

But more specifically, I enjoyed the fact that Noah takes place in a world where things like armadillo wolf-dogs exist and Anthony Hopkins is a berry-obsessed weirdo who has the magical ability to rufie people at will. I enjoyed the fact that Aronofsky brings conflict to this story in the form of an evil, flame sword-wielding king (Ray Winstone) who casually eats the heads off lizards as a snack. I just enjoyed this strange, scummy film, and I don’t get to say that very often.

However, I’m still very disappointed that this film can give us a shambling rock monster with the voice of Nick Nolte but not one scene in which somebody is beaten with an olde timey equivalent to a hotel courtesy phone. I’m deducting one W.

Rating: W W W W