Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

April 2, 2014

‘Noah’ character a victim in flood epic

Movie Review

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat

emann@pvdemocrat.com — Color me one of the biggest fans of movies with a heavy dose of social commentary on man’s stupidity. However, that isn’t a 100 percent free pass to totally bury any redeemable qualities in the film just so one can make some sort of artistic grand gesture.

Today’s subject was one I was more curious than excited to see, but leaning toward excited at least when it came to the cast who was picked to play the major characters. Unfortunately, while there was plenty to praise from some of the best visuals of the year so far to an awesome soundtrack, it felt like at times like I struggled to sit through other parts. I want to note that I went into this movie about as open minded as possible and even laughed off the idea that it was the least bit of an insult to the biblical text, but after it was over I just could not shake the feeling that the very essence of who “Noah” was became lost.

The story pretty much wipes a good deal of the story slate clean and features a young Noah (played as an adult by Russel Crowe), who is orphaned after his Seth descendent father Lamech (Marton Csokas) is murdered by a descendent of Cain and later again villain, Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone). Despite a textbook candidate for therapy in today’s society, he manages to mostly pass down messages of peace and love to his children Ham (Logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll).

It goes on until Noah is struck with one heck of a trippy vision that tells him he must take a road trip to visit his grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins).  This reveals the part of the story where he must save enough species to repopulate, etc. etc. Though it’s more of a stroll through time than the race when it starts raining, it’s an interesting journey that shows how Noah is probably the least level headed of the clan. He must be constantly reminded by his wife, Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), and adopted daughter, Ila (Emma Watson), that though they aren’t perfect, he’s just going to have to suck it up since no one has invented Prozac yet.

A majority of the liberties taken did not bother me, be it the commentary on man’s destructive nature and its impact on the planet. I was OK mixing around who descended from who or the giant fallen rock angels ripped out of the “Never Ending Story” series to help build the ark.

Why I’ll even take with good humor the amazing way with which an otherwise peaceful man who must have grown up without any violent training whatsoever, suddenly is able to have “Conan the Barbarian” worthy fighting skills each and every time he is outnumbered. Maybe somehow his character in “Gladiator” is a future member of the bloodline.

I get the whole statement that man is sinful and that even Noah had to struggle with the conflict he felt, but to make him a complete jerk that tears apart the family for a large part of the film seemed to destroy the very idea of redemption the story is supposed to represent (at times it felt more like revenge was the primary motivator). I did not feel motivated to walk out of the theater as a couple of my fellow patrons did, but I can’t blame them when something that was either done for statement’s sake or shock value, made you almost despise the hero more than the people who were being wiped out by flood.

A similar example that came to mind of pushing the envelope a bit too far was last year’s “Prisoners,” where you could sympathize at times with the main character’s actions, but became so saturated with the point that you just wanted it to be over. This should not discourage anyone from seeing this flick and again I found plenty that was enjoyable. However, the best way to put it was it was excellent when it was good, but nearly terrible when bad. As it at least finishes as strongly as it begins, it’s worth two out of five scriptures for “Noah.”

Movie viewing experience courtesy of the Royal Twin Theater of Pauls Valley.