Saturday, 29 March 2014

NOAH - Review By Greg Klymkiw - In search of berries in the land of theSmurfs and Vikings

You'll see green alligators and long-necked geese
Some humpty backed camels and some chimpanzees
Some cats and rats and elephants, but sure as you're born
You're never gonna see no unicorns
- The Irish Rovers, The Unicorn Song

"Oh shit, it's black fly season and I've got lockjaw."

"I need BERRIES. Got any?
Noah (2014) *
Dir. Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Nick Nolte

Review By Greg Klymkiw

Four words.

Anthony Hopkins IS Methuselah.

Phew! Who cut the fuckin' cheese? Man, oh man, when great directors fail, it's nice to see them crap-out as spectacularly as Darren (Pi, Requiem For a Dream, Black Swan, The Wrestler) Aronofsky has done with the swirling sea of salt water pickle brine that is Noah. Yes, the movie is dreadful, but it's at least a rip-snorting hoot for most of its running time and if you've a hankering for a multi-million dollar Sun Classic International-styled Ed Wood-directed biblical epic, have I got a picture for you.

"I plan to skewer chipmunks upon my 'stache."
In case you don't already know the plot, we're talking Noah of the Ark fame here, the fairytale Old Testament servant of God. To quote from the angel Gabriel in Green Pastures: "Gangway! Gangway fo' de Lawd." And I've gotta tell ya', de Lawd sho' do be right royally pissed off with Man for all his sinning ways - so much so that he entrusts his loyal earthly servant Noah to build an Ark to house the "innocent" during the Great Flood. The innocents He wishes to save are God's non-human animals - excepting of course, the unicorn. God just wants to bless the beasts with life and start all over again. Can we blame him? (Oh, and Aronofsky, an avowed atheist refuses to use the word "God" in the film. He substitutes it with "Creator", but hey, that's his sick shit, not mine.)

God declares, not unlike Travis Bickle: "Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets." Though He doesn't come right out and say it, de Lawd be thinkin', "All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal."

And I feel for Aronofsky on this. It's not much of a story. God tells Noah to build an ark and fill it with animals while everything and everyone else will die in a flood. Noah builds the Ark, the animals board the Ark, the rains comes, the rains go. End of story.

So one of our great directors decides to add a revisionist twist to the piece and couch it as a tale of man's environmental assaults upon the Earth and how drastic measures must be taken to achieve a new beginning. The same, said director decides there's also an interesting way to tell a tale of religious zealotry through Noah who feels charged with the desire to fulfil God's Word even if it means murdering the children of his eldest son. Aronofsky also dabbles in presenting a rivalry twixt Noah and Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), the former being someone who blindly accepts a potential misinterpretation of God's Word and the latter who believes God created in His own image to place a species at the top of the food chain and to control his own destiny.

These very interesting elements are there, but the movie is just so Good-Godawful in pretty much every other respect. Noah and his wife are portrayed as some manner of eco-hippies, but they're equally presented as positively insufferable cliches. Anthony Hopkins munches ham to portray the 900-year-old Methuselah as a doddering idiot who's mostly obsessed with being able to find and eat berries before he dies. I kid you not. There's even a scene with Hopkins on all fours whilst maniacally trolling the ground for fucking berries.

And, of course, I shit myself laughing when a little girl asks Noah to sing. I was gobsmacked, actually. Crowe sings!

As if this weren't enough, Aronofsky even goes all Ray Harryhausen on us when we're introduced to humungous stone creatures called "The Watchers" who rise up out of the ground to offer assistance to Noah to both build the Ark AND do battle - yes BATTLE! - with the armies of Tubal-cain. Worse yet, The Watchers are essentially identical to Transformers - yes, rock-hewn Michael-Bay-style Transformers.

This might be one of the biggest follies of all - CG Transformers made of rock aside, the most ludicrous element is just how much of the film is generated via CG. Using real animals would have lent a sense of "humanity" to the proceedings, but no matter which way you slice it, God's non-human animals have about as much warmth as a witch's tit.

The levels of idiocy in this movie know no bounds, frankly. They are all, however, knee-slappingly funny. Yeah, the laughs are unintentional, but they are as pure as those achieved by Edward D. Wood Jr. in his straight-faced Bride of the Monster and Plan 9 From Outer Space. I mean that with absolutely no condescension towards the late Mr. Wood. I genuinely love the guy. Just, as I genuinely love Aronofsky. They're both filmmakers with a voice, and that ain't something to be sneezed at.

Uh, did I just compare Aronofsky to Ed Wood?

Noah is in massive worldwide release via Paramount Pictures