In the beginning, there was a void. Not a single major full-length Hollywood film had ever told the story of Noah and the Ark. Into the void stepped a man with an ego as big as the Cosmos: Darren Aronofsky, the auteur behind films like Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan. What Aronofsky did with Noah, though, might be called an epic fail.
Here are the five most laughable aspects of the strange $150 million would-be blockbuster.
1. The surprisingly helpful giant rock monsters.
Yes, you read that right. The key to Noah getting the Ark built is the aid of servant angels called “Watchers.” These celestial beings have been punished by God by being turned into 40-foot monsters made of boulders — fantastical creatures seemingly straight out of The Lord of the Rings — but redeem themselves by helping Noah build the Ark. (You can kill them, by the way, and when they die they ascend gratefully to heaven in a beam of light.) No one in the movie, in which Russell Crowe plays Noah, Jennifer Connelly plays his wife and Emma Watson plays a stray girl named Ila who gets adopted into Noah’s family, seems to think it the least bit unusual that these magical beings spring up to fulfill a prophecy, given to Noah in a dream, of the world destroyed by water to wipe it clean of human wickedness.
2. The strangely crazy title character.
Noah, rather than being a humble servant of God (a word not mentioned in this film, which refers to the Divinity as the Creator throughout), is in this telling a kind of egomaniacal madman who, rather than bow to God’s will, is constantly claiming to be carrying out His work. Noah is convinced that everyone on Earth (including his family, seemingly chosen to be the only survivors) must die because humanity is too wicked to be allowed to continue, even going so far as to ignore apparent miracles that seem to indicate God does not want humankind to perish. Noah sees his mission as preserving animal life till the waters recede, then allowing his line to perish.
3. The Game of Thrones–style war.
Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), an obscure Biblical figure barely mentioned in Genesis 4:22, is in Aronofsky’s film a full-fledged rival and villain, a descendant of Cain who glories in violence and detests the descendants of Cain’s brother Seth, of whom Noah is one. Tubal-cain is also a blasphemer who forges iron weapons and raises a marauding army of what look like medieval knights who are bent on destroying Noah and his kin just as the Deluge begins. Among Tubal-cain’s innovative weapons is a small artillery piece that shoots fireballs out the barrel, suggesting he has already perfected gunpowder. Fortunately for Noah, the rock giants are not only handy but make excellent warriors. Yet Tubal-cain somehow manages to sneak aboard the Ark. Who knew the ship had a stowaway? Or that he would attempt to cause a replay of Cain and Abel between members of Noah’s family.
4. The dumb dialogue.
The words are as wooden as the Ark in this film. After Noah painstakingly explains to his family that each of them must die in turn, and with them the last hopes for humanity, he concludes with a clunky, modern-sounding line: “I’m very sorry about that.” Later, in a murderous frenzy, Noah lurches around like Frankenstein’s monster screaming, “I cannot be stopped!” By the way, why does Connelly have an American accent when almost everyone else sounds British?
5. The Merlin-ization of Methuselah.
Noah’s grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) is a strange, wizard-like creature who inexplicably lives by himself in a cave, obsessing over berries and coming up with magic tricks such as healing a wounded girl (Emma Watson) who becomes Noah’s adopted daughter. (The patriarch discovers her half-dead form in a ruined village in which everyone else has been murdered.) Methuselah isn’t, alas, the only character with access to magic; Noah’s wife Naameh works up the world’s first pregnancy test, something involving dropping some drops of liquid on a leaf that begins to glow in spots to indicate you’re knocked up. Naameh turns out to be an amazing chemist: She also devises a useful, fairy-tale-style sleeping potion that, when burnt like incense, sedates all of the animals on board and makes them sleep for the duration of the flood yet doesn’t affect any of the humans. Someone tell Aronofsky that the Bible isn’t J.R.R. Tolkien.
See also from Walter Hudson: 7 Ways Noah Turns the Bible Upside Down