Make no mistake: Noah is clearly the most laughable apocalypse film since M. Night Shyamalan’s dazzlingly stupid bee movie, The Happening. It’s so vastly epic in its blundering that some smart people want to call it profound — an argument between two perceptions of God’s role in the world — while ignoring the patently stupid qualities that make this wet excursion into self-indulgence so unintentionally humorous, and worse, mostly boring. But let’s start with the Watchers, who, in Darren Aronofsky’s arrogant Bible rewrite, serve as Earth angels but act like a cross between Tolkien’s Ents and the comic Transformers robots. (This movie makes Michael Bay seem visionary.) Next, witness the randomly conceived glowing rocks, which Noah uses freely for illumination and destruction, that the cockeyed film narration suggests were the reason God got mad at humanity in the first place. What up, Noah? But the worst of all of this film’s criminal stupidities is the widespread misogynistic male characters in this bleak land; they seem more Viking than Israelite. Noah (the plump Russell Crowe), our hero, has no problem procuring babes (Emma Watson, Madison Davenport) for his sons, until he decides it would be better to let crowds trample one and do worse justice to another in God’s name. Even kookier is Grandpa Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), who magically repairs wounded wombs while searching for berries — your basic patriarchal demigod. Remember this is a 21st-century rewrite, so don’t blame Yahweh for the sexism — it’s Darren’s Way, and his women have babies and obey their lichen-scraping vegan men.
But even if you put aside the clunky plot oddities, the fable lying underneath seems hazy and incoherent. Is it the industrial cities or the weird rape-y culture God wants to wipe out with his flood? Is Noah hearing God or making up junk? Is the argument about God’s silence excitingly new?
Either way, you won’t care by the time you weather the boring first half — and you’ll thank God when the rain falls and something finally transpires. Aronofsky is a fine director of intense social melodramas like Requiem for a Dream and The Wrestler. But when he gets all cosmic on us, stuff like The Fountain or this claptrap, well, he’s just in it way over his head.
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