Saturday, March 29, 2014

Just say "Noah"

Looking back at my review, I am reminded of how mean I can be sometimes...why the half star rating? Well, it's quite simple: Aronofsky is a visionary director who's capable of a lot, anything less seems stupid and "Noah" has a lot of stupidity going on.

For those of you who haven't seen the film yes, this is a SPOILER laden warning. Here are just some of the "highlights" from the movie...read on at your own digression.

1. The content
This one is mainly for the Christians who assumed that "Noah" was going to stick to the Bible. This group, whether good or bad, rarely ventures into the theater—only when the film has been blessed by such sites as kidsinmind or pluggedinonline.
So let me say here: just stay home. Disregarding the fact that Aronofsky treats the story of "Noah" as something almost out of Greek myth, there is a lot of...um...uncomfortableness to the picture.
The incest is one thing. Technically the only girl in the movie isn't Noah's daughter, but she's raised by him and, of course, ends up falling in love with her adoptive brother, Shem. When the movie jumps in time—so when can see them all grown up—the first scene has them tonguing in the woods while Ham watches.
Lovely.
Although it is never formally addressed, sexuality is a huge part of the movie. Ila, the girl, and Shem can't have babies because she is barren; but that doesn't stop Shem from pulling her shirt up and licking the scar that made her barren...not only does this seem anti-erotic but it is also quite insensitive. Later in the movie, as humanity is about to be wiped out by the flood, Shem goes and looks for Ila who in turn has gone after Ham. Ila meets Methuselah in the woods who magically heals her womb with InstaHorny. She hears Shem calling for her and jumps him...
That's probably as graphic as the sex gets...which isn't that bad. I had previously mentioned the scene in which Noah gets drunk and strips naked...yes, that's in the Bible...it's also in the movie.
But the sex isn't the real thing that makes the content so indigestible...it's the turn from fantasy to sheer psycho-horror. Noah turns into a lunatic, a genuinely frightening creation who's hell-bent on wiping out mankind...naturally.

2. The goofiness and the severity (staring Charlton Heston)
I would have been fine with a lot of the more cutesy moments of the film—including, when asked to look after a family, one of the rock monsters/fallen angels lifting up his three or four arms and saying "they're in good hands". badump pstch—if had had been consistent. the cutesy moments are juxtaposed next to the gritty, gore shots.
The arrival of the snakes has Noahs' wife getting a little squeamish...Noah reminds her that all the Creator's creation must come on the boat, even the creepies and the crawlies....aw. So those are cute scenes, right?
The movie takes Methuselah and makes him the Yoda-like comic relief, always craving berries. Methuselah will bumble around, randomly showing up while Noah goes down to look upon "the Men". What he sees is disturbing. The men have slaughtered a whole lot of animals and are trading women for meat...flesh for flesh. It's sex trafficking for the carnivore...no wonder Noah is a vegetarian.
This scene is actually quite horrifying, with animals being pulled apart and devoured while still alive...

3. The preaching
...which brings us to another point: the message. The point of "Noah", after all of the crazy stuff goes down is simple: be nice and don't eat meat. In the prologue, it's stated that man was to take care of the earth. Well, man started exploiting the natural resources (namely, the glowing heaven-rocks—named Zahon? or something like that—that are never explained and seem to have been left over when the angels fell to Earth...heaven explosives) and now the planet is falling apart. The Men have hunted the animals and Noah hunts the Men. It's so overtly eco-oriented that Russell Crowe looks like the Green Lantern.
The sheer fact that the descendants of Cain are referred to as "the Men" is another topic altogether...alas, I'm feeling lazy.

4. The Savior complex/psycho man
Noah is Jesus...kind of. The savior mentality that Aronofsky tries to infuse into the movie turns into a hot mess. Noah is the savior of beast-kind, but he must help annihilate all of humanity. When Ila and Shem tell him that they are expecting a child, he vows that if their baby will be a girl, he will kill her so that man will be eradicated. This is where "Noah" starts to become a caged thriller. The family is stuck inside the ark with a madman...a savior. Aronofsky purposely blurs the lines between "good men" and "bad men", somehow hoping that we won't be apathetic towards Noah...it doesn't work. Noah is often seen making the crucifix with his body, arms outstretched to the heavens. He acts on faith alone and Methuselah tells the audience that it will always fall to Noah to determine the outcome of humanity...clumsy foreshadowing.

5. The Bible
Ooh, this is the one that really sticks out like a sore InstaSleep thumb. Let's view this part as a report card for how "Noah" did. To do this, let's go ahead and not talk about the rock monsters...because, let's just not. The birthright that Noah has been passed down is a magical snake skin that is actually Satan's skin. Well, it belong to the serpent from the Garden of Eden.
God is not a present figure in "Noah", this much I called, which is why the psycho-thriller moments work. Noah sees himself as a man carrying out the will of a God who won't communicate with the,. The Men, the vegetarianism, the rock monsters, the time line...although it has the key elements of the story of Noah in the movie—there's a boat and a dude named Noah—it really is nothing like the story you have heard. One scene shows Noah telling us the creation story which involved evolution. It reaffirms the 'crazy-man-thinks-he's-heard-from-God' tangent that permeates the screen.

5. The magic
Perhaps man was more powerful after leaving the Garden. Maybe we did have magical abilities that slowly got lost over time as we got further away from God...you could look at "Noah" that way, or you could see the magic as everyone else does...as magic. The birthright/snake skin glows when it touches the line of Seth. Methuselah's powers seem larger than life and then there's the drugs.
So that they won't have to care for the animals, Noah and his family gas them with a concoction that they brew up and it puts them all to sleep...for months. This convenient little plot device allows for the animals to not be fed for the entirely of the boat trip...which takes more than nine months.


But I do think that the fatal flaw of the film is how surreal it is. It blends into a smoothie of goof...which, although probably delicious doesn't make good entertainment.

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