Warning: there are a few spoilers below, perhaps the biggest one is in the following paragraph.
I liked the beginning, I liked the end, but the middle bit - once the rain came and all the time on the ark -well, it seemed long to me. If one describes a movie as "long" that's not a good thing. The more I think on it the more I've realized that the subplot of Tubal-Cain being a stowaway on the ark is what felt long and boring in this part of the movie. It just didn't work for me.
Yet the longer I think of the entire film, and I have been thinking on it ever since the credits began to roll, the more I like it.
For me these are some of the highlights:
- The way that the fatherly blessing had great significance and is something Very Good, something that comes from Eden.
- The nod to the Tower of Babel.
- How beautifully the story of Creation is told. How it was illustrated as Noah narrates it is visually stunning but I also love that Noah is telling it to his family in words similar to the ones in Scripture but not exact. It felt organic, like the way I tell a Bible story to my kids. Since watching the film I have often thought of how that story was finally written down, using precise words that were inspired by God.
- That Methuselah finally got a berry, right before he died. Maybe some will see this as cheesy but I saw it as a nod to the fact that God indeed wants to give us good things. I like that before his death, God gave Methuselah a special treat so he could die a satisfied man.
- The acting was wonderful, especially by Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly. There are a couple of scenes on the ark where Connelly, who plays Noah's wife, confronts Noah and her incredibly emotional performances were perfect. After one of the interactions I thought, "Oscar." Watson, too, has several emotional scenes that were excellently done. And together, their portrayal of home birth (or ark birth?) was the best I've ever seen on film.
- Repeatedly the descendants of Cain will talk about how they are made in the "image and likeness of God" and how, for them, that means that they have the power and privilege to make, use, and take life as they see fit. I found that twisting of the good to be very thought-provoking. How often I have taken that very blessing of being made in His image and likeness and twisted it to make myself my own god! To be made in the image and likeness of God is certainly a beautiful gift and a great blessing and over and over again we are shown in Noah that humans and their sins have ruined the Beautiful that God created and gave to us.
I also want to address some of the complaints I've heard about Noah.
- Rock people. I liked the rock people. Do they jive with Catholic teaching on angels and fallen angels? No. Are you going to find them in the Bible? Sorta, kinda, but Fr. Barron and deacon-in-training Steve Greydanus both say that they are based on biblical beings. I believe the rock people are just one of the many elements of the movie that will have people reaching for their Bibles and having conversations. Plus, they reminded me of the Ents from Lord of the Rings and that's a good thing.
- God is not called "God" but "the Creator." This one makes me want to bang my head against the wall. This is Old Testament, before God has told Abraham just Who He Is! Noah's got nothing else to call God but "the Creator" because that's the only way He's revealed Himself. It's not some heavy-handed anti-God, pro-environment thing, it's a thoughtful decision and one that, I believe, points out how truly blessed we are to know God as much more than Creator but as Father, Lord, and Redeemer.
- Noah's plan for his unborn grandchilden. I've heard some say there's no way the righteous Noah would think of such a thing but it seems to me that they are overlooking Abraham and Isaac. Please do not misunderstand me, I was troubled with this part of the plot, too, but I also empathized with Noah at this point. I have also had surprise pregnancies that have left me confused and worried about the will of God. I have also misunderstood God and made the wrong decision. In the very act of sincerely trying to do God's will I have hurt people and overlooked mercy for justice.
I acknowledge that Noah will not be for everyone: it doesn't get the biblical story right, it takes some liberties, it has a touch of a sci-fi feel that some will just not like.
But if you enjoy blockbusters and sci-fi; if you're a big fan of Russel Crowe, Emma Watson, or Jennifer Connelly; if you're looking for a movie that can start some interesting conversations amongst your family and friends then I definitely recommend it for you.
Finally, who knew that the rainbow Noah saw after the flood was actually one of Rainbow Dash's sonic rainbooms? Who knew?!