Valdosta Daily Times

Features

April 5, 2014

‘Noah’ fails to stay afloat

VALDOSTA — “Noah” (Adventure/Drama/ Religious: 2 hours, 18 minutes)

Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins         

Director: Darren Aronofsky

Rated: PG-13 (Violence and thematic elements)


Movie Review: To prove marketing for profit is the key objective today, producers of this film attempt to appeal to people of faith from the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This film pulls from multiple sources regarding those religions and other religious texts. This mixture of religiosity changes the nature of this film. If people are looking solely for their faith’s interpretation of Noah, this film will be a major disappointment.

Noah (Crowe) is chosen by The Creator, God, to build an ark. This ark will be needed if Noah and his family are to survive the upcoming flood that God will use to destroy the world that man has soiled. Noah, his family, and fallen angels build the ark, but they are under constant danger from other people, a sinful group led by Tubal-cain (Winstone).

Aronofksy is the director of “Black Swan” (2010) and “The Wrestler” (2008). Those films are superb works. However, those films are also fictional works. “Noah” is also treated as a fictional piece. Aronofksy, a reported atheist, told the New Yorker, “Noah” is “the least biblical film ever made.” At least, he is honest. He takes plenty of liberties with the story of Noah. The film is bound to anger plenty, but the fault may lie with audiences, not producers. Many are entering the cinemas to see this film thinking it is biblically based. Expectations often render disappointment.

In this case, audiences’ anger is justifiable. The rewrite of another’s faith is never a means to attract fans. A person’s faith is personal.

Disturbance of that faith becomes a personal matter. Aronofksy and co-writer Ari Handel, Jews who now identify themselves as atheists, use the story of Noah’s Ark as entertainment rather than an accurate portrayal of scripture. Mainly, this story is from the Jewish Torah.

The moment giant rock creatures enter the scene, “Lord of the Rings” comes to mind and the story appears very unreligious. The expectation is elves, dwarves and sorcerers will soon follow.

While based on a religion, this is not a religious photoplay. Once past that, the film does offer some adequate parts. Some dramatic moments are present due to fine acting by Crowe, Winstone and a few others. The film also offers some nice visuals.

However, the expectations of this film overshadow the entertainment aspects and fine cinematic details. Multiple cultures and religions have a flood destroying the Earth allegory. Aronofksy and producers would have done better taking one of the nonreligious stories and recreate it or create a modernized version for the modern era.  

Grade: C+ (Floods of people will see it, even though not pleased.)

 

“Sabotage” (Action/Crime: 1 hour, 49 minutes)

Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Olivia Williams, Sam Worthington, and Terrence Howard   

Director: David Ayer

Rated: R (Strong violence, profanity, gore, nudity and thematic elements)

Movie Review:
An elite Drug Enforcement Administration task force led by John “Breacher” Warten (Schwarzenegger) storms a cartel’s mansion. The team seizes 10 million dollars from the raid, but the money comes up missing. While an investigation does not clear the team, the agents are granted permission to return to work. Soon after they return to work, someone begins stalking the eight agents.

Along with FBI Agent Caroline Brentwood (Williams), Agent Warten must find out who is killing his team before they are all eliminated.

Schwarzenegger is back in top form. He gives a good performance, although this screenplay is all over the place with its story. Schwarzenegger works in this role. The film becomes better once Olivia Williams enters the scene. She has a certain masculine appeal that is sexy. She gives the film clout as its most solid performance. She and Schwarzenegger have a nice chemistry.

The film boasts a large contingency of other notable acting talents, but their performances are minimal. This exists because of a plot that is not solid and is unconvincing.

Just when one feels you know where this tale is heading, it changes to something else. This could work well for a crime, mystery-type movie, but it does not here. The film waffles along as if the writers are unsure what the story is and what its conclusion will be. This is evident throughout.

The film’s biggest negative is its adolescent nature. It contains bloody violence and sophomoric material like something a 13-year-old boy would write if hyped on a bag of candy.

Director Ayer (“End of Watch,” 2012) and cowriter Skip Woods penned this script. It appears they both wrote it with a different plot in mind. One was writing a modern Western, and the other a cop crime caper with a noir-film tone. “Sabotage” is good on action yet pathetic on story.    

Grade: C (The script is an act of sabotage from the start.)

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