By In Culture, Film

Christian Reviews of the Noah Movie

I have not seen the movie, but have read countless reviews. What follows are statements from five Christian thinkers about the movie:

Cal Beisner:

I saw Darren Aronofsky’s NOAH yesterday and actually enjoyed it. It was far less bad than I anticipated and in some respects was quite good. Its environmentalist message was muted from what one expected from the first script–still there, but not dominant. It (mostly) “gets” the sinfulness of man and the justice of God that responds in righteous wrath. It doesn’t get God’s mercy and grace or the way Noah and the flood and its aftermath presaged the person and atoning work of Christ. It pretty poignantly portrays the difficulties of a walk of faith and obedience to God, but because in it God Himself never speaks, it misses the real foundation of that faith–propositional revelation from the God who speaks and shows (to adopt the title of Carl F. H. Henry’s magnum opus).

Gregory Alan Thornbury:

In sum, Noah contains numerous plot points, devices, and characters that film critics can and will judge and critique. Over the years, I have taught philosophy of film in a number of educational and institutional settings. I have always had my students study Aronofksy, and I believe that this film, which he has said he wanted to be among his first, is a worthy addition to the body of his work. It is strikingly different, in important ways, from his previous films. For me, I found nothing more arresting and hopeless than the final scene of The Wrestler. In Noah, Aronofsky and Handel are wrestling with a different subject matter: theology. Their film will, I think, provoke heated biblical and theological conversations in restaurants and coffee shops after patrons see it. Christians might find it helpful to go see the film with people they know who have a lot of questions.

Steve Deace:

I even tried to watch it through the eyes of an unbeliever to find something redemptive about it, and I could not. For the life of me I cannot figure out why some people whose opinions I respect are endorsing this movie under any circumstances. Endorsing this movie is like our church fathers endorsing false Gnostic “gospels” because “even though they’re a total bastardization of the truth at least they’re a conversation starter.” Instead, our church fathers responded by writing works like Against Heresies to confront such lies. But I guess they just weren’t as enlightened or interested in cultural engagement as we are.

If the movie has a core message it’s that man is wicked but so is God, and God will actually bless our disobedience once we figure that out. It turns out the only truth Aronofsky told was when he said his Noah was “the least Biblical movie ever made.”

Brian Godawa:

Turning the tale of Noah into an environmentalist screed and animal rights diatribe does violence to the Biblical meaning and turns it into something entirely alien to the original meaning of the text. Admittedly, the script does include murder and violence against man as an additional “evil,” but this is secondary in the story. The primary sin of the script Noah is man’s violence against the environment. Which is kind of contradictory, don’t you think? Claiming that God destroys the entire environment because man was — well, destroying the environment?

Matt Walsh:

As a film, it’s like the script for a Syfy Network miniseries got shoved into a blender with the treatment for a Lifetime channel made-for-TV movie and then mixed with enough moping nihilism and environmentalist sermonizing to fool pretentious elitists into using words like ‘daring’ and ‘relevant’ when describing it. In other words, it’s aggressively abysmal.

But, as a money-making ploy, it’s a downright masterpiece.

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By In Culture, Film

A Defense of Whedon’s Shakespeare

Whedon Much Ado Romance

Contractually obligated to take a ten-day break between principal filming and editing of The Avengers, Joss Whedon gathered a group of friends (many of whom already met often to read Shakespeare together) and filmed an adaptation of the Bard’s comedy, Much Ado About Nothing. Though the setting and costumes are modern, Shakespeare’s original text serves as the script. The final product opened in a limited release last summer and met with mixed reviews from major critics. By my lights, the film was witty and enjoyable, faithful yet innovative, but the professional critics generally made good cases for their criticisms. Less compelling were some of the Christian responses.

The moral and theological features of Shakespearian drama have been coming back into vogue among Christians. In Reformed circles, that is due in large part to the work of men like Peter Leithart and Ralph Smith who, in recent years, have combined considerable pastoral and literary gifts to produce thoroughly Christian readings of some of Shakespeare’s greatest works. Unfortunately that renewed Christian enthusiasm for the Bard’s plays can trickle down into a moralizing tendency. In their excitement to distill clear moral themes and messages, the less careful will often over-simplify otherwise complex drama. These well-meaning but unfortunate approaches might (more…)

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