Major spoiler alert: I have not seen Noah. I have no plans to see Noah. I am not receiving compensation of any kind for not seeing Noah, except the compensation of not seeing Noah. That's a pretty significant reward for me, since movie theaters these days are, without exception, TMTs (Total Migraine Triggers). It's the noise, the flashing lights, the noise, the too hot/too cold temperatures, the noise, the over-sized screens full of 3-D garishness, the NOISE (did I mention the noise?). For me to see a movie, it has to be a movie so universally recommended and praised that it might be worth a migraine. Few of them are.
But plenty of people have seen Noah, and have been willing to write about it. (I wish to thank my sister Heather for sending links to some reviews I hadn't seen, by the way.) Some of them really liked it, and found lots of Christian themes to reflect on. For instance, Steven Greydanus writes:
Noah feels deeply the Creator’s grief and wrath over sin and violence — far more deeply than he feels his mercy or love of mankind. The Creator speaks to Noah, not in a voice from heaven, but in visions and portents, and at times Noah’s understanding of the Creator’s will may be deeply, even shockingly, flawed.And Rebecca Cusey says:
Noah presents biblical characters facing challenges, dilemmas and uncertainties as knotty as those we face today. Compared to figures in most ancient dramas, they are both more recognizably human, yet also more persuasively other. I appreciate a costume drama being willing to let the characters’ milieu push back on audience expectations with cultural sensibilities different from ours.
Anyone hoping to see merely an accurate portrayal of the few verses in Genesis is thinking too small. The movie is much bigger, much richer, and much more exciting than that.
It’s the kind of movie that Christians, indeed everyone, should want Hollywood to make.
Darren Aronofsky has breathed fresh life into a treasured story and made it a story everyone can enjoy and everyone can ponder.
Not so fast, says Barbara Nicolosi:
Where was I? Oh yes, Noah is a terrible, terrible movie. As a story, it doesn’t attain to the level of the worst of the cheesy Biblical movies made in the fifties. Aronofsky broke the first and sacred rule of storytelling: you have to make the audience care. We never cared about Noah even after he was kind to a wounded, half dog – half snake. (No, that wasn’t a mistake.) We never cared for any of the characters. I kept hearing people say this movie is deep. It isn’t. It is psychologically pedestrian. The only emotion the movie elicited in me was laughs of scorn. The script is problematic in every way in which a script can be problematic. Bad characterizations – no complex personalities, just stereotypes. Unmotivated choices abound. No imagery or story subtext. Huge story problems requiring ark-sized suspension of disbelief. Earnest, oh so earnest, dialogue with every syllable on-the-tedious-nose. Awkward transitions. Completely missing a coherent theme. Embarrassing soap-operaish holds on actors looking tense or worried or just staring ahead trying to convey lostness and doubt. And the fakest, funniest looking, plastic green snake used repeatedly to indicate “Evil is in the house.” It’s bad enough to be a Christian movie!No, the real reason for this Splash of the Titans among Christian movie reviewers of Noah is probably exactly what it appears to be: a simple case of de gustibus non est disputandum. Judging from the reviews I've read, both the positive and the negative, I would say that Noah would probably not be to my taste either, as I have a low tolerance for rock people, homicidal grandfathers, and lethal antediluvian spring-loaded bear traps brought in as a plot device to explain why Ham hates everyone, when it's probably just being named "Ham" that did it. (Kidding, kidding--I know the name is Biblical. Just like Edna. Only she's in Tobit, not Genesis.) I also tend to dislike movies that play fast-and-loose with books I really treasure, which is why (gasp) I only saw the first half of Peter Jackson's Fellowship of the Ring before deciding that I preferred Tolkien's Tolkien to Jackson's. Proving only that we Christians don't, in fact, take marching orders from anyone when it comes to must-see movies, must-miss movies, or anything in between.
So if you're wondering whether or not Noah is one of those cinematic experiences to treasure for the ages or just a waste of a couple of hours and more than a few dollars, by all means, read the reviews from your favorite Christian movie reviewer, and maybe even check out a few secular reviews too. But in the end, God gave man free will for our own good. Whatever Aronofsky’s Noah may think of the matter.
UPDATE: On the other hand, this serious and scholarly review of Noah is very intriguing, and might explain the discrepancies in interpretation over this film.