March 30, 2014

Shadowcon Mini-Views- Noah

Well, I think the book did it better...

Alright, so let me state that I went into this movie having read some of the reviews, and being that the reviews themselves were giving this movie light praise, I was hoping to be genuinely surprised by the movie. The problem was, well, the movie just wasn't willing to meet me half way by being good.

What we have here is a disaster movie that tries oh-so-terribly hard to masquerade as something more, as though it's trying to be a character drama when we all just want to see God beat the living shit out of Earth. I'll start off with what I didn't like about the film and then move into the things I did appreciate, so that we can at least end this on a good note. First off, the characters. Oh my god, the vapid, void, blank, boring, characters... except one, but I'll get to that later. The characters with whom Noah surrounds himself are stock and generic as all hell; even the good acting isn't able to salvage the script's almost mocking way in which it handles it's characters. Emma Watson and especially Jennifer Connelly both were so wasted in their roles it took me a good while to recognize them on screen; I'm used to seeing these two give... y'know good performances, but they just seemed like they were walking through their parts, not that the script gave them much to do anyway. And someone needs to find Logan Lerman and fucking give him some goddamn acting ability! I really don't like him, and while I usually don't rail against the actors themselves, I must say that when you fuck up a role like Percy Jackson, you're getting my wrath in full force for ruining a beloved book series that could have so easily been translated into film... but I'm getting off track.

The plot of this thing is... okay. To compare it to the Bible wouldn't really be fair to the Bible, because while this is an adaptation, it's also riddled with Hollywood tropes and practices. What made me kind of happy was that the flood portion of this takes place at the beginning of the second act, and so after this, we're treated to more character growth, which I was all looking forward to when I realized what they were doing, and indeed it might sound great on paper (and God knows we need it), but in practice the characters don't grow, they just kind of go through the motions, much like the actors portraying them.

Ultimately what took me out of the experience watching this movie wasn't that it wasn't a Bible movie (I'm not one of those people who are pissed that this isn't the flood story from the Bible), it was the fact that this world didn't seem fully realized. The fallen angels were weird and didn't make a whole lot of sense, the mythos and the magic in the world was cheep and overall things felt like they were there more for the plot than because they needed to be there naturally in that world. Not nocking the Bible; I'm just saying that for this movie things felt just kind of disjointed and plot-dependent.

So, what did I like about the movie? First, big props to Russell Crow, man! He was great! And the Noah character is the best part of the film for me in terms of characters. The struggle that he has to deal with, both externally and internally, you could just see it in his eyes; this is a broken guy, torn between his love for his family and his devotion to God (or the Creator, as they call him in this; don't want to piss off any more religious people than we already have!) Noah's character was very well done; Crow does bat-shit crazy really well, and I liked his just brazen no-nonsense attitude about this whole thing.

Second, I loved the action! The flood was epic, and Ark was a sweet-ass looking set piece, and the effects for the rock angel things were pretty good. When the action is happening, you are fully engaged and immersed in the world, not really caring about the characters; we just want to see God piss on the Earth, and that is what we're seeing when this is going on (we're seeing the flood, not God actually... nevermind)! The action is suspenseful and epic and engaging. The problem is that this stuff only encompasses maybe twenty minutes of the whole thing (admittedly I'm estimating this figure prior to actually having eaten anything today, so take that for what it's worth). The experience feels way too truncated and abrupt, and especially in the third act, the fight between Noah and Tubal-Cain is nothing to get excited about. I did like the ending. When they're all settled on land and Noah and his wife are reconciling, that was a very nice moment for the two of them and really brought the film back to the moral of the story: that man is capable of good despite all the evil that he's done to the Earth, that in the end we are worth something despite our flaws. A little high-horse-ish for me, but whatever. And I liked that the dove that came back was white and the rainbow and all of that; it was a satisfying ending.

Overall, I did enjoy parts of the film, but I think it could have been so much stronger had it focussed only on Noah and the flood, or if it wanted to be a character piece had it fleshed out the secondary characters more. The effects are epic, and the Ark is a staggering and awesome looking boat (however unseaworthy it may appear), and Russell Crow does a fine job as leading man in the movie. See it for the action, but don't expect anything more from what it has to offer.

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