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'Noah' survives an odd storm

4/1/2014

When it rains, it pours. Quite frankly, the deluge in "Noah" starts long before the flood does. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting of "Noah," but it's not what I got.

When it rains, it pours. Quite frankly, the deluge in "Noah" starts long before the flood does. I'm not entirely sure what I was expecting of "Noah," but it's not what I got.

"Noah" tells a long, sprawling tale that goes far beyond the "animals came two-by-two" bit. The marketing for this picture completely skips the parts of the story that stray too far from "common knowledge." They're not necessarily the more religiously controversial parts, they're simply the parts that might have been off-putting to potential viewers. Appropriately, the director, Darren Aronofsky, is a weird dude and somehow managed to add his own special brand of weird frosting to this already odd cake.

The technical aspects of "Noah" are impressive. The visual effects often are spectacular, and the performances are strong -- although not exceptional. All that said, I found it hard to enjoy any particular piece of the film because I constantly was playing catch-up. There's a joke to be made about poorly edited action films where henchmen appear out of nowhere -- that mixed feeling of slightly humorous frustration increasingly was present the further "Noah" delved into scriptural literalism.

Ironically, the third act of "Noah" felt like it ran roughly 40 days and 40 nights. I was hoping for more time to be spent in the construction of the ark. That's what the movie pitched, and that's where a real gem could have been found.

In truth, "Noah" succeeds in many areas it had no right to succeed in. For one, it does its action scenes well. They never were compelling, but they did serve the film. All in all, "Noah" is a strong effort and should be commended for its bravery to make a film in such uncertain waters.

* 4 of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at Fort Hays State University Foundation.

james.gerstner@gmail.com