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‘Noah’ Thrills In Theaters, But Ultimately Disappoints

Paramount Pictures/Noah

I have to confess that I went to see the film Noah this weekend hoping to find all kinds of things to like about it.  I wanted to be a bit of a Christian rebel and the “smart kid in class” who could find a new way of looking at the film that worked for both religious and non-religious people.   All I did was prove I’m not much of a rebel and certainly not the smartest kid in the class.

Making a film of this size is so hard and takes so much passion and compromise (with powerful monied forces that constantly work against the filmmaker’s vision.  In other words, studios, producers, and distributors) that there is no way I can think of the film’s director Darren Aronofsky as a villain trying to impose his world view on the people that buy tickets to see his movie.  I honestly think he was trying to tell a very interesting story and make a few bucks.

If that was his intention, he succeeded.  The movie is not boring and had a forty-five million dollar opening weekend.  Was it a good film though?  No. Not to me.  Now, I have about as much right to criticize this film as I do telling you how to vote, I’m just one person who bought one ticket and a soda, but I do have an opinion.

I spent my afternoon watching a violent, depressing film about a story from the Bible that I remember as pretty uplifting when I was a kid.  In my head, Noah was a good guy who got to save the world from complete destruction by taking two of every living thing on a boat to save them from drowning in the big flood.

Was it forty days, one hundred fifty days?  Was Noah six hundred years old?  Did it take him a hundred years to build this big ark?  None of those questions floated (pun intended) through my simple mind until I saw this movie.  And not just those questions either.

Suddenly I had to deal with a dark violent wicked people who enslaved innocent women and children, throwing them in mass graves echoing contemporary killing fields of Germany, Cambodia, and Syria, while those in power “fed only those who fight.”  I had to deal with strange nuggets that burst into flame when fire was needed and giant rocks that contained fallen angels who seemed to be first cousins of Transformers fame I had to deal with costumes out of Mad Max, fast motion images of both Biblical and evolutionary versions of how the world was created, and twin almost-infanticide (they backed out at the last moment on that one).

Like I said, I wasn’t bored: I was scared and depressed.  It seemed like the world was ending; not back then but that day while I sat in the theater sipping my soda between swings of axes and swords.

To be fair, the goody two-shoes movies of Bible based films often have the same effect on me.  In these “Christian” films Christ always seems to have taken advantage of modern dentistry with whiter-than-white, perfectly straight teeth and the villains have yellow mismatched fangs and waxy beards and mustaches.  None of them can make me feel anything more than I do watching an Easter pageant at Dollywood.

Somewhere in the middle between these two extremes is the film I’m waiting on.  Somewhere out there is a film that “willfully suspends our disbelief” (that’s what films are supposed to do) for just two hours;  it suspends the disbelief of both believers and non-believers.  How about that?  It entertains, enlightens, and makes us feel something.  Even better, this perfect film makes us go home and discuss the ideas over a table of food, family, and friends.  This film might even make us long to be better people.  Am I asking too much?

Probably, but I’m still asking.  Hollywood, tear down this wall!  I bet you would make even more money.  It’s just a thought.

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