Noah (2014)

Note: This blog entry was written by Dan Levine.

You can find him here.

Darren Aronofsky has never been a filmmaker of any considerable talent; his early work showed him to be a prototypical “cult” filmmaker of the sort the US commercial cinema produces regularly, a man so given over to the excess of a given stylistic tic that less savvy audiences can recognize this tic and proclaim it as “different” when it’s actually just more and because it’s different it must therefore be “innovative” (that awful catchall buzzword of the late capitalism we’re all trapped in.)

His latest offering shows that he has seen a couple other movies on television, and remembered some of the things he saw in them and when another studio inexplicably gave him obscene sums of money to spend on his tenth semester of filmmaking summer school he remembered enough bits of them to cobble together a large enough pile to interest cinema chains.

He has a poor grasp on the English language. In the beginning of the film there are titles giving the back story in the most hideous typeface Microsoft Word 98 had to offer saying that Cain, killer of Abel, of Bible fame, established “industrial civilization.” We later see Cain making weapons through a hand driven metal-smithing process. That isn’t an industrial civilization. Maybe he meant “industrious”? Maybe I’m being charitable in thinking so? The typeface is still unforgivable. This is but a quibble.

Added to the original story now are giant rock creatures who humanity betrayed and apparently taught them everything they know. They look hideous and not even hideous in an original way, something immediately apparent to anyone who ever saw the sub-Aronofsky Go-Bots: The Movie: Battle of the Rock Lords. They represent nature, or something.

The film presents a strict “man/nature” duality that should be an embarrassing enough cliche by now where I’m not encountering it even in the dregs of commercial action movies. Each actor tries to be “serious”-this is their prestige picture or so they think and come Oscar season maybe the Academy will remember their minimally varied countenances of constipation.

The creation of CGI worlds hasn’t vindicated itself as a good enough reason in and of itself to make a film and Noah has mediocre ones even by the low bar already set. The biblical desert basically looks like what would happen if no one watered those obnoxiously green lawns in pharmaceutical commercials.

And most pressingly, he takes a concept that would be absolutely perfect for attempting to address, confront, or in some fashion relate to the anxiety of the possible annihilation of our species that climate change has brought forth.  It decides instead to club the viewer over the head repeatedly with weakly sketched interpersonal drama and cheesy action sequences.

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