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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Jun 24, 2014

Noah Film Review: Awesome Special Effects

IF YOU’RE a Bible purist, don’t watch “Noah” as writer-director Darren Aronofsky (“Black Swan”) has taken a lot of liberties in adapting the canonical story of Noah for the big screen. He uses the Genesis account only as a point of departure. For one thing, he has created a group of fallen angels called Watchers that seem like a cross between Transformers and the Stone Giants in “The Hobbit”. He even says Adam and Eve had three sons: Abel, Cain and Seth. And Noah (Russell Crowe) is a descendant of Seth and his grandfather is the hermit Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), who craves for berries.

Noah and his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) have three sons: Shem (Douglas Booth of the most recent “Romeo and Juliet”), Ham (Logan Lerman of “Perks of Being a Wall Flower”) and Japheth (Leo Carroll). They live a very simple life. Then Noah has a vivid dream in which he sees the world being destroyed by water. He goes to visit Methuselah who tells him God is speaking to him.

The Creator is angry and disappointed with the wickedness of men and has decided to destroy the world. Noah is to build an ark and fill it with animals of every species and he will be their caretaker. But a feudal warlord (Ray Winstone) and his minions also want to get inside the ark and Noah and the Watchers have to fend them off to provide the action scenes. The warlord eventually succeeds to be a stowaway and Noah’s son, Ham, even sides with him.

The film is too long for two hours and 15 minutes. The pacing becomes too slow and sluggish we feel sleepy at some point. Aronofsky’s interpretation of Noah will surely be questioned by purists as he seemed to have read too much between the lines and filled in the gaps by cooking up additional developments in the narrative. His Noah becomes so self-righteous to the point of being obnoxious as he wants to kill even his own twin granddaughters.

The film also carries an environmental message. God created a perfect world, but men have defiled it and now God wants to purge it. Noah has turned into a religious zealot who believes that all men and women do not deserve to survive. In all fairness, the acting is quite good. Crowe and Connelly are perfectly reunited after “Beautiful Mind” where they also both shone. Emma Watson is also fine as Noah’s daughter in law and Hopkins as Methuselah.

The film uses CGI special effects rampantly, with the battles and deluge scenes giving it a feel of epic fantasy. The sight of thousands of birds, snakes and other animals rushing by themselves into the ark is quite awesome and spectacular. We also see a giant spring welling up from the desert floor and trees and forest rising all around in a jiffy to provide the needed wood for the ark.

Since the time we were born, we’ve seen several proselytizers proclaiming that things are so bad and the end of the world is soon coming. There are moments in this film when the viewer will make connections to the evil and chaos of our own times, what with our planet becoming so polluted affecting climactic change that brings all sorts of disasters. We guess, in the end, we all live up to now only because of God’s mercy.