2 Ways Afronofsky’s Noah is Like Other Christian Movies

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.39.04 PMI confess, I finally saw Noah.

I got it from Netflix. I know, I told everyone to embrace this movie and go see it in the theater. But then the reviews (not the speculations, but actual reviews from people who had seen the theatric release) came out. It was bad. Really bad. I mean… rock people? Wonder why those didn’t make the trailer. Oh right, because they were a horrible plot device. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Because of the hype and controversy, the movie still grossed $43.7 million on opening weekend in the US. $95 million worldwide. It was well on its way to making back the $125 million it cost. It wouldn’t be a flop. So, I decided not to spend my money on a bad film. I don’t mean bad as in unbiblical. I mean bad story.

But, now I have seen it and I can say that it is likely the most unbiblical Bible movie ever made. There is just so much that is way out in left field. That topic has been thoroughly covered by others.

But there are two ways Noah is just like other Christian movies.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.29.22 PM1. Heavy handed message. We get it, you think people who eat meat and destroy the environment are bad. Stop hitting us over the head with it.

No one wants to have any message shoved at them. Tell the story. Trust your audience to see the themes. You don’t have to be so obvious to get your message across. Your audience is media literate. They will get it.

Screen Shot 2014-08-01 at 6.27.37 PM2. Convenient plot devices. Oh, you don’t want to deal with Noah taking hundred’s of years to build the ark? OK, just create a fictitious race of rock people and have them feature prominently in the film.

It’s just unbelievable. There’s no reason to add them to the story. Noah needs help to build the ark? Rock people. Noah needs help to defend the ark? Rock people. We need a reason for the division of humanity and an origin for the bad guys? Rock people. They are such a large part of the film story that we have to wonder how the biblical story ever got told without them. Frankly, it’s lazy. It’s unnecessary and it clouds the bigger story… which apparently in this version is that men are evil and eat meat and destroy the world, so they must be cleansed from the earth.

Blake Snyder in Save the Cat talks about this particular plot mistake. He calls it Double Mumbo Jumbo. He says that “audiences will accept one piece of magic per movie. It’s The Law. You cannot see aliens from outer space land in a UFO and then be bitten by a Vampire” or in our case you can’t have the “Creator” supernaturally destroy the earth and save one family in an ark AND have a race of fallen angels walking around in rock bodies. There are lots of common story mistakes, and many religious films have them. So does Noah.

The moral? A huge budget can’t fix basic issues in your film. No amount of ILM created CGI can cover them. An all star cast can’t save you from them. Even this blockbuster suffers from the same things that many religious projects do (my own included). Don’t worry that your budget isn’t million of dollars, or your actors aren’t A List. Just tell a good story. If you do that you’ll be miles ahead of a most movies.