I liked specific things about Darren Aronofsky’s film and thought as a whole it was very well-done. Some filmmaking choices are very strange and kind of throw you out of the movie. And I wish that the music was more memorable. The film tries to be inspiring at the end ... shortly after being a chamber horror flick that some have said makes Noah seem like Jack Nicholson from “The Shining”. And I agree. The inspiration at the end is a little too late for its own good.
My consensus is: If you’re a religious person, you’re probably going to take much offense to Aronofsky’s film, which makes many changes to the Biblical narrative. If you’re not a religious person, you won’t have qualms with it, other than some of the strange choices made in the filmmaking itself.
The film is overall very well acted. Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly are of course great actors. I saw a review that said that Ray Winstone is in this film... “playing Ray Winstone”, which I agree with. He’s a good actor, but always plays the same character. Emma Watson and Logan Lerman (who plays Ham) both do a great job. Anthony Hopkins is great as always as Noah’s grandfather Methuselah.
There’s a lot of good choices made in the filmmaking, such as adding more about Noah’s survivor’s guilt, more of his pondering the choices that he makes, the additions from midrash/the Book of Enoch. But then there are some really strange choices made, like Methuselah has a fiery angelic sword that he stabs into the ground, killing tens of thousands of soldiers. Okay...
Portraying the Watchers as deformed stone giants that look a lot like the rock creature from “Galaxy Quest” is a really, really strange choice. Once explained in the context of the film it makes sense though—they were angels cast out of Heaven, falling to the earth as meteors, striking the ground and rising covered in molten lava that cooled, hence their volcanic rock bodies. On Wikipedia, they are described as stone golems. Aha! Nice. Now that makes sense. However, I would rather had their sin be what it was in Book of Enoch (that they coupled with humans, begetting evil giants—the Nephilim http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_of_enoch).
In the film, the Watchers’ great sin is simply teaching the humans civilization (a la Prometheus). That doesn’t seem heinous enough to be thrown out of Heaven, but whatever. Btw, when the Watchers fight the humans, it’s very reminiscent of the scene in “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” where the Ents fight the Orcs at Isengard.
I really liked the choice of having the mammals in the film be portrayed as prehistoric mammals (for the most part). I noticed Indricotherium (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraceratherium), Macrauchenia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macrauchenia), Megacerops (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megacerops), and Giant sloths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megatherium) among other things. The only weird choice was inventing animals out of whole cloth, such as the half wolf/half pangolin at the beginning of the film. Huh? (See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pangolin)
I liked the evolution scene when Noah retells the beginning of Genesis. I liked Adam/Eve as glowing beings and the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil portrayed as a pomegranate (or a beating heart?) because traditionally the fruit was interpreted as a pomegranate, not an apple. I really liked that the descendants of Seth had the snakeskin from Eden, and wrapped it around their left arms like tefillin (http://bit.ly/PUOxAU). I also liked near the end, where there is a flashing montage of silhouettes of soldiers from all different ages of man.
I like that the Ark is shown to be made of wood sealed with asphalt (bitumen), but what the hell is “zohar” in the film? It’s a substance that is mined from the ground. It looks like luminescent gold and has the ability to explode. What the hell? “Zohar” is usually thought of as the religious text (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zohar), but “zohar” also means “radiance, splendor, or brightness” in Hebrew.
I liked the area around the Watchers/Methuselah’s mountain, which is a burned wasteland guarded by deaths-head structures. I also liked how the birds on the Ark are put to sleep by smoke (that doesn’t affect humans). Later, Noah’s family is shown waving censors of the smoke through the aisles, putting the birds to sleep. I like the Catholic iconography. The scene of the reptiles coming to the Ark is cool and right out of one of Indiana Jones’ nightmares. The painters Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter “Hell” Brueghel would have loved Noah’s visions of death and destruction.
I did not like the clothing of the people in the film, who look much more Medieval than they do Bronze-Age, like they’re supposed to be. Speaking of that: The humans descended from Cain in this film have technological machines. Yes, like actual machines... Huh? And Tubal-cain uses a 20th-century, polarized welding helmet. WHAT? In the Bible, Tubal-cain is described as the “forger of all instruments of bronze and iron”, ok, but having him use a 20th-century tool like a welding helmet is crazy.
Naamah (Jennifer Connelly’s character) is stated in the Bible to be Tubal-cain’s sister, but that isn’t mentioned in the film. But the idea of Naamah being Noah’s wife comes from midrash (Genesis Rabba 23.3). I like that Aronofsky included that bit. Also in the Bible, Tubal-cain’s father is Lamech (whose father is Methusael), while Noah’s father is also named Lamech (whose father is Methuselah). Confused? Me too.
Also, some critics cite the fact that Noah chastises his son for picking a flower shortly before killing a man in cold blood. Please! Noah hardly chastises his son, more like quietly explains a lesson to him. And he doesn’t just kill a dude for no reason. He kills THREE dudes who surround him and say that they’re going to kill him and eat him. I’d say that’s pretty justified killing on Noah’s part.
Some Christians have taken issue with Noah being portrayed as an environmentalist. (From wikipedia: “Jerry Johnson, president of the National Religious Broadcasters, didn't like the director’s description of Noah as the “first environmentalist”. Johnson called the film’s “insertion of the extremist environmental agenda” a major concern”.) Oh, please! What’s wrong with being an environmentalist? Why are people who believe humans were made to dominate the earth so against sustaining/saving the environment? That makes no sense to me. Religious Christians should be the first ones in line to recycle and preach about saving the planet. Whatever.
In the film, Ham and Noah are estranged. This reflects the Curse of Ham from the Bible. In Rabbinic tradition, the Curse of Canaan (Ham’s fourth son) was either because Ham sodomized his father Noah, castrated him, or both. Good lord. (find info about this here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curse_of_Ham)