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Early Buzz: First Reviews For Darren Aronofsky's 'Noah' Are Decidedly Soggy & Mixed

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by Kevin Jagernauth
March 21, 2014 9:00 AM
39 Comments
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Noah, Russell Crowe

The floodgates have opened. Darren Aronofsky's "Noah" has started rolling out internationally before it bows stateside next week, the first reviews of the movie have arrived two by two online, and it's not a shock that the troubled film has had decided mixed results with critics. Some have been bowled over by his epic take on the story of the ark, while most others find his movie messy and ill-conceived, with the result not quite coming together.

Perhaps that was always going to be the case. Starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson and Ray Winstone, the movie dips into the Bible story with fantasy elements and an environmental message, coupled with Aronofsky's always challenging eye on visuals, and unique take on storytelling. So, what did the experts have to day? For some, "Noah" made them cry, for others, it's an epic misfire. Check out the reviews below, followed by a new featurette on the movie.

Variety: "Counterintuitive, perhaps, but by no means sacrilegious, Aronofsky’s uneven but undeniably bold, personal, visually extravagant take on the Old Testament tale will surely polarize critics and audiences"

The Wrap: "No animals or cast members were harmed by 'Noah,' true, but this new vessel doesn't do much for the floating zookeeper's big-screen reputation."

ScreenDaily: " 'Noah,' zeroes in on a protagonist whose best intentions threaten to lead him into madness. Unfortunately, that emotional through-line gets lost amidst an oversized epic that juggles too much and doesn’t do enough right."

The Hollywood Reporter: " 'Noah' will rile some for the complete omission of the name “God” from the dialogue, others for its numerous dramatic fabrications and still more for its heavy-handed ecological doomsday messages, which unmistakably mark it as a product of its time. But whether you buy these elements or not, this is still an arresting piece of filmmaking..."

National Catholic Register: "Aronofsky has been pondering the Noah story for decades and working on this film for more than 15 years. Somehow, he has brought the first major big-studio Bible film in decades to the screen. The work of an uncompromising filmmaker who makes the movies he wants to make, it’s an outlier for the genre, to be sure. It’s not often that a movie with giant rock monsters has me pondering religious and scientific cosmologies, rabbinic literature and Tolkien — and also makes me cry."

IndieWire: "Aronofsky's worst movie is an epic misfire that, like the source material, offers plenty of lessons even if you don't buy the whole package."

Film School Rejects: "Dark, complex, intense; basically just the sort of thing you’ve come to expect from Aronofsky."

We Got This Covered: "Ultimately, Noah is a powerful but complicated experience that’s deeply fascinating in the way it subverts expectations. It will crash over you like the flood itself, knocking you back, allowing you to take in awe-inspiring visuals but also forcing you to contemplate complex questions. An absorbing character study and an action epic all at once, Noah is a highly ambitious, largely successful outing for its director and star."

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39 Comments

  • mkmk08 | April 5, 2014 3:48 PMReply

    I’m a regular guy in my thirties. I’m a Christian and go to church from time to time. Here’s my take on the movie Noah. First the positives and then its issues.

    There were a few messages in the film I viewed as positive. It doesn’t question the idea of a Creator but rather simply assumes there is a God. The movie also conveyed certain positive values such as the benefit of listening to God, the portrayal of God’s nature as loving and forgiving, and family loyalty. It also does not shy away from the fact that mankind has fallen and needs saving.

    Unfortunately, there are many issues with this film that do not portray the “essence, values, and integrity” of the Biblical account. Many parts were either completely made-up or flat out opposite to what the Bible says. Here are a few examples:

    1) The movie references fallen angels who turned into rock people. Aronofsky may have gotten inspiration from the Nephilim mentioned in Genesis 6:4, but the idea that there were angels who tried to help Adam and Eve in the garden who then fell to the earth and turned into rock people is blatantly made-up and not in the Bible at all.

    2) In the Bible, Noah's three sons all had wives, and they all brought their wives with them on the boat. The scene where Noah lets the girl get trampled while grabbing his son is incorrect - as they all had their wives with them (Genesis 7:13).

    3) The Bible gives no account of the birth of twins from one of the girls on the boat, and Noah certainly did not try to kill anyone. This film portrays Noah as homicidal, while the Bible says he was a just man and walked with God (Genesis 6:9).

    4) The bad guy sneaking on the ship - not in Bible.

    5) The evolution scene is not Biblical. Species do adapt to their environment, but God spoke all living things into being. Nothing evolved from one thing into another (Genesis 1).

    6) Overall - the big error. Noah's was not charged by God to decide whether the human race would continue or not. It was not Noah's choice, as the movie depicts, to make that decision. God’s reasoning behind the flood was not to eradicate humankind. He was grieved in His heart because of man’s continual evil. Noah was charged by God to save his family and the animals and re-populate the planet with humans. Noah accomplished this directive. God desires relationship with us and ultimately sent Jesus as a way to reconcile us to Himself.

    While Aronofsky and Paramount have the right to make and release what they want, there is a huge difference between taking artistic license and completely misrepresenting the facts. Calling this movie Noah is a disservice to the general public. Many people who watch this film will leave the theater thinking the Bible says something it doesn't at all.

    By the way, one last area which is an issue to me is on the topic of faith. Noah was a man of faith. God gave him a vision, and he acted on it, trusting what God told him even though he didn’t understand the why or how. Noah persevered. So, in addition to the above, the movie also misses the role and importance of faith in being led by God. Hebrews 11:7

  • Marv | March 28, 2014 7:58 PMReply

    Warning: Warning: DO NOT take anyone to see this movie who has a heart condition, mental condition or is just plain normal. The movie is so "dark" and "nightmarish" it will cause one to shake at the end. This movie is "THE WORST" movie I have EVER seen.
    If "Ar-Enuff-sky" read the biblical account of Noah totaling approximately four paragraphs, he must be completely illiterate or just plain egocentric. Here are a few movie highlights:
    - "Transformer" type characters posing as fallen angels build the ark;
    - Noah is portrayed as a psychotic, homicidal, fundamentalist creep;
    - There is no joy in this movie; just a lot of screaming, blood, and blasphemy;
    - The 3 sons are not married upon entering the ark;
    - Methuselah performs acts of wizardry making a barren woman fertile;
    - Noah schemes to kill twin daughters of Shem;
    - The ark has many entrances and TubalCain makes a hole in the side which remains unrepaired.
    - The animals "storm" the ark for entry as if they declared war and are promptly put to sleep by magic incense;
    - there is no communication between God and Noah in this movie; reference to God is "The Creator";
    - Noah separates from his wife due to an inability to mentally deal with the flood;
    - Ham wanders off by himself without a wife.
    - Japheth is portrayed as approximately 12-13 years old when the ark rests and is unmarried.
    - Shem and his wife/girlfriend attempt to escape from the ark in a rustic designed pontoon until Noah sets it afire.
    By the way, where did Noah acquire his Jeans, at The Gap?
    This movie is not a telling of the biblical account. This movie is not an interpretation. This movie is a nightmare.

  • gary james | March 27, 2014 8:29 AMReply

    A lot of ill informed comments on here ,more controversy than you'd find in the MOVIE that's for sure.

  • Pauline | March 28, 2014 2:05 AM

    Controversy? Yes!. Ill informed? Certainly not!!! I suggest you read the OT legends before posing ill informed commentary on a topic I'cve spent years researching.

  • Pauline Novak-Reich | March 25, 2014 2:01 AMReply

    Darren Aronofsky’s Noah ― A Point of View with a Twist
    “Beware the consequences of climate change” is said to be the message Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Noah, conveys. Yet, the legend of Noah and the Great Flood told in the Book of Genesis celebrates survival rather than serving as a dire warning. It has its origin in the Gilgamesh epic, which relates the story of Utnapishtim, the Mesopotamian Noah, whom the gods ordered to build an Ark. The most overlooked aspect of these legends is that Utnapishtim and Noah built their arks ahead of the Flood.
    Some may think of them as fictional heroes representing the righteousness of men in awe of God, however, when stripped of theological content, their legends hail three technological milestones. Those are the engineering of a seaworthy ship, the formulation of the astrological zodiac for maritime night navigation, and the use of a spiral as a forecasting instrument. The latter projected the upcoming disaster, whereas the three ensured survival, first in Mesopotamia, then in Egypt.

    The absence of archaeological evidence to attest to Noah’s existence makes the Old Testament’s legends our main window to the Biblical era of 3000BCE. However, the legendary Ark is a metaphor for the mega ship-building projects that took place in Babylon in order to tackle catastrophic swells. The specific measurements and dimensions of Noah’s vessel ensured a seaworthy craft capable of navigating through waters with no landmarks.
    His legend is the first account of a much broader story underpinning the Old Testament’s legends. It is linked to the patriarch, Abraham, Noah’s tenth descendant, who along with his wife, Sarah, set out from Babylon for Egypt’s royal court to sell his country’s secret sacred knowledge to a pharaoh beleaguered by drought. As told in the legend of Isaac, Noah’s instrument, in addition to forecasting the behaviour of rivers, could also locate bore water in deserts during drought.

    In contrast to the Egyptians, who believed the Nile flood was a blessing from the gods, the Babylonians dreaded floods. Widespread flooding in southern Mesopotamia became a metaphor for human destruction and a fertile ground for epics like Gilgamesh to arise. However, as the survival of each depended upon flooding, the periodic excesses of the Tigris, Euphrates and the Nile Rivers turned the inhabitants of these lands into brilliant problem solvers obsessed with patterns, symmetry and time sequences. No less greedy civilisations than ours displayed more preoccupation with climate than we today.

    The Babylonians celebrated the spiral by building ziggurats with temples for their deities atop, while the Egyptians enshrined it in the pyramids where the block arrangement of tiers forms a spiral like that of the Milky Way. Embedded with a clock and calendar, this spiral is a time measuring device, which, other than forecasting the ebbs and flows of rivers can also forecast the money markets’ ups and downs.

    The legends of Genesis, the ziggurats and pyramids, along with the Rind and Moscow mathematical papyri and the Nile inundation records form the story of the odyssey of secret sacred knowledge from Babylon to Egypt and beyond. It is a story fraught with greed, betrayals, fraud, persecutions and wars triggered by the deceitful marriage of Sarah to the pharaoh. Abraham told the King she was his sister rather than wife. Their union forged the Egyptian-Hebrew lineage of a highly intelligent succession bonded by knowledge rather than blood. The most prominent of that succession are the Greek philosophers, as well as Copernicus, Galileo, da Vinci, Kepler, Newton, Tesla and William Delbert Gann ― the man who named Noah’s spiral the Square-of-9. Each, in his own right, discovered the secrets of the universe, yet left no clues for posterity.
    Sarah’s successors bring to mind Max Cohen, Darren Aronofsky’s main character in the1998 movie, Pi (TT), who believed that God had chosen him to discover the universe’s DNA. Armed with Pi and 216 illegible digits his makeshift computer spat out, Cohen is certain that when cracked they would form the spiral that leads to Mother Nature’s black box.

    The Square-of-9 is indeed Mother Nature’s black box. It won’t disperse pollution, nor will it avert a disaster. It will emit an early warning signal instead. It will warn against avalanche, drought, earthquake, mudslide, torrential rainfall, tsunami, and even war. It’s all just a matter of tapping into nature’s clock.

  • Parkertownsend | March 24, 2014 12:24 PMReply

    7.9 Avg score from critics thus far on RT. While the trailers actually do suggest the movie might be soggy and mixed, I join the rest of this comments thread in calling bullshit on the article's headline.

  • Jacob Greenwood | March 24, 2014 12:10 PMReply

    Noah existed and his sons and their descendants be traced through Chronicles in the Bible and archaeology to people and places that exist today. Why do the seven Noahide laws, for Jews and Gentiles alike, still resonate, and are the basis for Jewish and Mesopotamian law and civilized law worldwide today?

    1 You shall not have any idols before God.
    2 You shall not murder.
    3 You shall not steal.
    4 You shall not commit adultery, incest or bestiality.
    5 You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
    6 Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
    7 Set up a governing body of just laws.

    READ "Finding Noah” at www .NoahIsReal. com

  • Pauline Novak-Reich | March 28, 2014 4:06 AM

    David Greenwald....Seven Noahide Laws? Where did you find them? Did you mean Mose's Ten Commandments?

  • Rascal Jones | March 24, 2014 8:09 AMReply

    Its incredible– for somebody who pondered the story for decades, Arnofsky got nothing right. He missed the point entirely. This is not the biblical account of Noah. Its a postmodern fabrication that does not ring true– because Arnofsky's version is not true.

  • Astrogirl | March 23, 2014 10:00 PMReply

    10 commandment was Moses not Noah in reply to other post here. I think film is just good in that it draws people to consider the biblical story, although perhaps not accurate as some would like being also a fictional fantasy woven in and not just a doco. The dimensions of Noah's ark in the bible are actually quite massive compared to the tugboat like pictures you see in many children's bibles which are not accurate. I recommend this website for people who seek to really understand this significant event in World history and the history and/or science of it www creation com

  • Cesar Gtz. | March 23, 2014 12:42 PMReply

    I don´t like the film Noah´s Arch, I believe the world actually lives bad times cause has alot of troubles. This was the opportunity for show the world and also the people known the real story about the biblical scriptures.
    Aranofsky´s film has alot of lies and that´s so sad. Aranofsky you have to read the Bible and don´t write a new versión or change reality.

  • Film Fan | March 23, 2014 12:53 AMReply

    Reviews are "soggy and mixed" !? It's at 73% on RT. Get your head out of your ass, Indiewire.

  • Josh | March 22, 2014 10:15 PMReply

    Rotten Tomatoes says the average score from movie critics is 7.4/10. For a divisive film like this, that isn't bad. Indiewire was one of the most negative reviews, so it wouldn't surprise me if they were trying to make the reception seem worse than it is.

  • Jacob Greenwood | March 22, 2014 2:52 PMReply

    If Noah never existed, why can his sons and their descendants be traced through Chronicles and archeology to people and places that exist today? Why do the seven Noahide laws resonate?
    1 You shall not have any idols before God.
    2 You shall not murder.
    3 You shall not steal.
    4 You shall not commit adultery, incest or bestiality.
    5 You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
    6 Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive.
    7 Set up a governing body of just laws.
    READ Finding Noah” at www . marcrubin . com/noah-index . ivnu

  • Elijahovah | March 22, 2014 6:57 AMReply

    A movie has to have truth in science to come across. Where are the ten kings who ruled from heaven? Where is Alulim the 1st king who dematerialized Enoch in God's name when Enoch spit on his passing the throne to the 4th kin Kichunna of Larsa? The water spring up from the ground is a misinterpretation of tsunamis from the horizons. An arial shot would have been nice coming down from space of the open pole water canopy (10 inches at the preFlood arctic circle, 40 inches toward the 60-inch equator. The tectonic plates dropping would have then been a good effect from the astral impact showing the dirt of the Yucatan blasting up into the canopy and freezing an ice cap over America. All good true effects never used. Instead stupid cold geysers every 1000 feet apart globally. The structure of the ark is built of sticks instead of beams. Three sections long to handle waves. But the waves are too massive. Hasnt anyone watched the Japanese wave 45 feet high? Just unveil those twice a day for 150 days. Of course those on the ark are engulfed by day 40 and presume they are above the Ararat they ground on. I bet they have that wrong too. Because the first grounding location of the ark is on the peak 22 feet of water over the peak and drops from that day forward because the ark is no longer floating. Waves slide the ark down to its current location to the NW. Churches say the Flood is real because of fish fossils on mountain peaks, but did you know that Chinese and Hindu legends speak of a dead fish or spirit of a dead fish on a mountain speaking to Noah. Hello? same story dudes. We had Lake Erie's dead fish talk to our own scientists.

  • Elijahovah | March 22, 2014 7:04 AM

    Other examples Cecil B Demille 10 Commandments and other Red Sea movies ignores that crossing the Red Sea was all nite long from sunset to sunrise, full moon, and in the middle of a funnel-cloud whose ammonia swirl from the comet chilled the waters they lifted into a slush wall. Just like Time Tunnel in the 60s has a tornado come and makes jericho fall ignoring that the unmortared stacked stones fell from centuries of shifting, Israelites stamoing on the ground to make vibration, and trumpets to shake the stones. The Bible is a book of science. The Red Sea may have been an ammonia comet but Hexekiah's backward sun was a brighter comet of cyanide that killed the 185,000 Assyrians and is why Halleys 1910 comet was feared would kill people with cyanide.

  • Willis | March 21, 2014 11:57 PMReply

    You somehow managed to pick the worst part from every one of those reviews. Agenda?

  • Harbinger | March 22, 2014 12:17 AM

    Indeed, the writer of this article 0nly picked up the "negative sides" of the critics. Look at Rotten tomatoes and Metacritic.

  • moviefan | March 21, 2014 12:26 PMReply

    Wow, so Hollywood Reporter and Variety give it a 90 and 80 respectively and those are the quotes you choose to post? I think I smell an agenda. So far even a couple most negative reviews I've read have had a lot of positive things to say as well. Was there anyone alive who didn't think Noah would get 'mixed' reviews? Do not 95% of the movies released get 'mixed' reviews?

  • Ugh | March 21, 2014 2:10 PM

    Seeing as how IndieWire gave it the most negative review I'm not surprised & excerpts from other reviews are worded in such a negative way.

  • toots | March 21, 2014 1:36 PM

    That's interesting, really 90 & 80, going to check them out, not the impression this piece makes re Variety, and yeah if that's the case very unimpressed. The web should be smarter about supporting movies, this kind of cut and paste generalisation shows little tolerance for an art form.

  • stella | March 21, 2014 11:51 AMReply

    wrong! have you read the reviews? they say it's awesome- do some homework!

  • George | March 21, 2014 11:40 PM

    Just saw it and thought acting was terrific and the interpretation thought provoking. Not the greatest movie I have ever seen, but compelling to say the least. See it and then decide for yourselves

  • Film Runner | March 21, 2014 10:48 AMReply

    Isn't this exactly what happened when The Fountain was released?

  • toots | March 22, 2014 6:48 AM

    Okay I get you, Fountain, just wikied it, you're right Fountain was booed then cheered, and has7/10 on imdb. Thank god there are still film makers with the balls to take a vision where tasteful film makers refuse to tread, personally I think there are more than enough mild mannered, unadventurous movie makers out there, why not go over the rails a little, it's never boring, and that's entertainment. I'm happy to see that divisive movies are becoming a genre in themselves these days, shows there are still signs of life in the old machine. Strangely though reading the actual reviews Noah may not actually be as divisive as the article suggests.

  • toots | March 22, 2014 6:29 AM

    Okay, interesting, why not expand the point?

  • anon | March 21, 2014 8:17 PM

    Toots: you are wrong.

  • toots | March 21, 2014 1:42 PM

    Really, could very well be wrong but didn't Fountain premiere at a festival get seriously booed then universally derided, don't remember anything mixed about it. Come on people, casual generalisations and comparisons before a film's even been released are unfair, corrosive and worse than that manipulate a tone a movie will find near impossible to break.

  • az | March 21, 2014 10:48 AMReply

    Seems business as usual for Aronofsky. Less Fountain (think I'm the only person who appreciated aspects of that one) and more Black Swan which had a love/hate effect.

  • Studioz | March 21, 2014 8:00 PM

    Love that those that haven't seen it call it a masterpiece. Ha.

  • james | March 21, 2014 7:56 PM

    i think lots of people realize that is a masterpiece

  • Ryan Sartor | March 21, 2014 9:59 AMReply

    I'm always suspicious when reviews are entirely positive or negative. Critics seemingly so conflicted on NOAH makes me wanna see it. I had no real interest in it before these reviews came out.

  • Christian | March 21, 2014 9:55 AMReply

    So, The Fountain: Part II?

  • Bob | March 21, 2014 9:23 AMReply

    Rock lobsters?

  • Mr Menfolk | March 21, 2014 9:14 AMReply

    he should of done Wolverine instead...

  • Balehead | March 21, 2014 10:21 AM

    No way!

  • Mr Menfolk | March 21, 2014 9:14 AMReply

    he should of done Wolverine instead...

  • Rob | March 21, 2014 9:10 AMReply

    Rock monsters?

  • Mel | March 28, 2014 3:13 PM

    They are called Nephilim in the Bible.
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