Commentary
5:00 am
Thu April 3, 2014

'Noah' Is Visually Impressive, But Lacks Focus

So much rain.
So much rain.

Since the irreverent treatment of Noah has been a tradition in theater since the medieval mystery plays, there is nothing particularly new about the free adaptation of Noah's story in the new movie, Noah.

What is new, and the best thing in the movie, is Industrial Light and Magic's presentation of what I call the "Rock People," gigantic monsters apparently made of volcanic rock with fire glowing inside. They are surprisingly sympathetic, to the point that I wondered why they weren't granted room in the ark.

Since God's instructions to Noah come only in the form of a couple of pretty ambiguous visions, I was a little curious as to why Noah interpreted them in so inhumane a fashion that even his wife had qualms about him-- especially when the variations on the story of Abraham and Isaac turned up.

A couple of shots about Noah's sons seeing him naked have no meaning whatsoever all by themselves. There are some shots illustrating evolution, but no verbal mention of it.

So Noah is a bit of a muddle as to content, neither following fable nor modernizing it, and it will hardly satisfy Biblical conservatives.

But it does pretty well with what Hollywood can usually be depended on for. Besides the Rock People, special effects do well with the birds and reptiles and animals reporting to the ark, which is itself both mammoth and convincing, though it doesn't look much like a ship.

The flood itself is presented with a minimum of Hollywood, an admirable example of restraint.

But there is disappointingly little humor or otherwise about living with all those animals, and the movie as a whole seems to flit too much from one idea to another without a strong central spine in terms of either ideas or emotional effect.