Noah Review: Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson!

Hello. Today, I will be reviewing an oddity of movie making, the Noah movie. It proves that Hollywood has no idea what the hell they are doing. There is no reason this overpriced block buster movie should exist other than for an artist to indulge himself.
 This review will include spoilers.

Movies based on Religious stories are not easy to do if you are trying to keep your own dignity as a movie maker. On one end of the spectrum, you could just pander to certain hardcore religious segment of the population. The result would be an overall tacky and ridiculous product in terms most movie making standards. On the other end, the movie may just be boring.

Getting the right mix of religious messages, artistic achievement, and entertainment is not easy. While, the movie, “Noah” by Darren Aronofsky, is not at either ends, it does not even get close to hitting the right mix.  To a large degree, it sits on the over-indulgent pseudo-intellectual artistic point on the spectrum.

There are various interesting elements of discussion throughout the movie. However, none of these elements are properly developed and the movie does not have the courage to push them to their natural conclusions. In this manner, it reminds me of another pretentious and shallow movie, “Prometheus” by Ridley Scott.

“Noah” and Sci-fi
This lingering impression of “Prometheus” is not a random thought since the movie, “Noah”, is at its core feels like a science fiction story. You could just replace the wooden Ark with the spaceship Ark and basically change nothing else and the movie would still work.

Think about it.

The basic story structure of the original myth of “The flood” is a pretty powerful story with various themes that could be empathized by different interpretation and re-appropriation by a story teller.

Human beings leaving a tainted world on a lone spaceship heading to a new planet for a fresh start.  
Does this remind you of any movies or books?

Within the science fiction medium, it is a common approach to use the myth of “The flood” as a core of its stories but without the religious elements. These stories could focus on family, morality, destiny in the place of religion. It is a tribute to the power of the “The flood” myth that it still works without the religious elements.

In most science fiction stories, this separation is rather clean with the stories basically ignoring the religious elements totally. They barely mention it at all. This could be said to be an “Agnostic” approach. The movie, “Noah”, on the other hand, is more of an “Atheist” approach to the myth of “The flood”. While it does touches on the religious elements, its primary interest is human-centric with a passive aggressive sense of negativity towards religious elements. The result is a movie that meanders and is rather self-loathing.

The Plot
In the Parentheses, I will insert the movie’s science fiction equivalent.

Noah” by Darren Aronofsky can be separated into 3 distinctive parts. The first is the introduction part of the movie in which the movie follows Noah (Captain of the Space ark) and his family (Colonists). They are the last survivors of the Seth clan (Vegetarian nature spiritualist) who live by the rules of the creator or God. They live in the world in which the Cain clan (Industrialize Modern society) has ruined the world (Post-apocalyptic waste land). Everything is barren and the world is dying (nuclear wasteland). Noah and his family meet up with Rock monsters (Sentient robost) who are fallen angels (Aliens) and start building the ark.
The second part is the conflict between the Cain clan prior to the flood. The King of the Cain clan brings his people to the place in which Noah is building the ark. After a period of stalemate in which Noah sees how wicked Humans, there is a big battle as the rains starts to fall. This is also the part where Noah’s family starts to crack and the true nature of the family members starts to show.

The third part of the movie is on the ark as the world is covered by water. In this part, the movie shifts into a thriller centered around the dysfunctional family.  The conflict is generated by Noah (Captain of the Space ark) who is determined to follow on with the plan of God (Original mission) while the family members’ (Colonists’) revolt against it for personal needs.

Will Noah be able to follow God’s will or will the schemes of the family members win out?

Not a religious movie!
In all senses, “Noah” by Darren Aronofsky is not a religious movie although it includes religious and mystical elements throughout its 2 hours and 15 minutes play time. In part, it is an environmentalist story. The whole idea of humans ruining earth is very up front and in your face. However, the majority of the movie is about how an “Atheist” or at least “a person with human centric philosophy” deals with the rather ugly side of human nature.

Throughout the movie, there are only two people who are actually believers. One of them is the title character, Noah, while the other is barely in the movie and is nothing more than a plot device. The other members of Noah’s family are not believers. The ark is nothing more than a vehicle of salvation from the flood. God or the creator as called by the movie is just some mystical element that they have to deal with. To them, all of the religious elements are just an extension of their cultural identity. Thus, they are building the ark because the Patriarch of the family says so and nothing more. They would prefer not doing so if they could.

To be frank, in the movie, it seems that they do not do much work any way with the “Rock Monsters” doing all the heavy lifting.

This setup is rather contradictory to the religious understanding of the bible story in which the only reason that the family was picked was that they were the sole believers in a sea of none believers.  This brings up the question of why Noah’s family should be spared. The conclusion by Noah in this movie is that there is no reason. He comes to this conclusion by seeing how the people of the Cain clan act.

You could say that the Cain clan are living on hell on earth!

Humans are evil!
This is where the movie shows off its shallowness. Just by seeing Cain clan, Noah comes to the conclusion that all humans including him and his family should not live and corrupt the new world being created. This is rather abrupt change from the earlier parts of the movie in which he sees his family very differently.

Don’t misunderstand me.

Noah’s family are mediocre examples of humanity. They do not show high degrees of virtue such as selflessness, courage, or intellect. There are self-centered, aggressive, and rather stupid. At the same time, they do not show high degrees of negative virtues also. In other words, they are average Humans which mean that there is not much separates them from the people of the Cain clan who are going to die of the flood.

The problem with the instant change in attitude by Noah is that it makes Noah seem more unstable and obsessive than having an epiphany about human nature. If he had noticed the negative characteristics of his family before and was bothered, there would have been a natural progression of thought after seeing the people of the Cain clan. By not doing so, the third act on the ark becomes how to stop the unstable and Religious fanatic, Noah, from doing an “Isaac”.

The third act is basically a re-appropriation of the “Binding of Isaac” story in which Abraham is told to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to God. Abraham complies showing his devotion and God replaces the son with a ram thus showing his love. In this movie, this tale ends differently with Noah failing to follow up on what he thinks God’s wants because he loves his family more than God.

God is nowhere!
While the movie has religious elements, there is no God in the movie. The only glimpse of God in the movie is via the visions Noah sees. You could say that the other mystical elements such as the “Rock Monsters” and the seed of Eden are signs of God. However, you could easily just say magic or aliens and get the same outcome.  

Even when you see the family of Noah, you cannot see a sign of God. It is not a huge surprise that there are no believers in the family other than Noah. In some ways, the antagonist believes more in the existence of God than the movies protagonist albeit in a resentful manner.

The main antagonist of the movie is the King of the Cain clan. Throughout the movie, the King spews resentment towards the absent God and is in constant rebellion saying that Human should not be ruled by Heaven. In this manner, he reminds me a lot of the story of Lucifer, the fallen.

Human versus God. Did humans win?
In some way, King of the Cain clan is the ultimate winner of the movie. As a human, who decided to embody the negative aspects of humanity, he battles Noah who is rejecting Humanity for God. Although he fails to kill Noah physically, he succeeds in killing what Noah was and dragged him down to the level of a mere human.

Unlike Abraham, Noah rejects the sacrifice. While the outcome is left to interpretation in regard to the will of God, Noah knows that he failed and falls in a deep shame spiral. It is only after he is able to self-delude himself that it was God’s plan all along that he is able to rejoin his family.

Thus, he is now truly a mere human with all of what humans are.

Like many science fiction stories that have to justify human existence, this movie goes for the humans are worth existing because they can love argument. And, like those stories, it does not work in this movie. The movie has no real answer to the question of why humans should exist. It shows the worst of humanity and does not show much of the good. As a result, the movie cannot make a logical argument on the behalf of humanity. At the same time, the movie cannot accept this because of its human centric viewpoint. Thus, the cliché concept of human love which was absent in the narrative beforehand comes into the story.

At the end
This movie is a mess of ideas and purposes. The director’s original intention seems to have been to reinterpret the Noah story via an Atheist viewpoint. This in itself is not a terrible thing for a movie. The problem with this movie is that it was not able to actually do this.

From an Atheist viewpoint, the value of Humanity should originate from itself rather than from God.  The first part of the movie is filled with sci-fi mysticisms to satisfy the director’s indulgences. The second part of the movie shows that humans are terrible. The last part of the movie fails to show that human are good enough to exist.  It only really shows that humans exist because of its own selfishness.

As a piece of entertainment, it is interesting but not entertaining. The movie is grand and ambitious in all aspects including the acting but not subtle when needed. The visuals of the movie are interesting with various elements coming into play. However, they do not have lasting impact other than making the audience feel weird.

This movie is an example of giving into a director’s artistic whims without much thought on the part of Hollywood.

Score: C+


  1. Wow. You nailed it. Love the sci-fi similarities. Glad you viewed it so that I don't have too. Some atheists tend to copy what came before instead of coming up with something original. Always trying to reshape the wheel, so to speak.

  2. A Korean in AmericaMarch 29, 2014 at 11:40 PM

    Its re-appropriation of a story which happens all the time. It is a means of cultural combat.
    One thing is that this movie is worth seeing once because it is off the charts weird for a bible based (loosely) movie.
    Think it is more like Scientology! lol

  3. You are so well versed on various cultures, religions & entertainment. Glad I was told about you! Keep up your good work & dedication.