Both movies deal with mass end-of-world-as-we-know-it destruction that requires superhuman intervention. The odds are stacked against the heroes; yet you know they will prevail in the end. And therein lies the challenge: how to build suspense when the outcome is more or less known.
I’d seen the first Captain America installment and found it clever and well paced and pleasing. I especially liked the creation aspect, how he acquired his powers and how he had to learn to deal with them. This newest flick, in contrast, was a disappointment. His character is more one-dimensional, the plot is more farfetched, and the battles are too digitally enhanced. As with the latest Superman, the brawls occur on city streets, and if the laws of physics exist in this superworld, plenty of innocent bystanders are going to be killed. The problem I have with this: (1) nothing of the sort is ever acknowledged; Captain America and his buddies don’t give these deaths a moment’s consideration, and (2) why should we care more about the survival of one or two main players than the hundreds or thousands of nameless cabbies and pedestrians? Maybe I’m just the Felix Unger of movie-watchers. But the mayhem is too messy and doesn’t match the lofty goals of the guy in the blue tights. (For you younger folk, Felix is the neatnik half of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple.)
I had no interest in seeing Noah after viewing the previews and hearing lukewarm reviews, but the movie works. The beginning is a little slow, but the suspense builds to Biblical proportion, while making you empathetic for the main players. A nice balance.
I’m not a Biblical scholar, so I did wonder about the accuracy—that is, does the story match what you’d find in “Genesis”? As I was trudging out of the movie (trudging is what you do after two hours in the dark, right?) and back toward the ticket window, a husband and wife were debating which movie to see. Husband: “Oh, I thought we were going to see Noah.” Wife: “No, I don’t want to see it because it’s inaccurate.” I was tempted to interrupt and claim that I was in fact a Biblical expert and that the movie was extraordinarily on the money. I’m glad I didn’t because when I got home, I pored through “Genesis,” and found that the movie takes more than a few liberties. Crazy liberties. I didn’t see the movie so I could enhance my Biblical knowledge, but I could understand how the wife wanted to keep certain aspects of the story straight. I can understand how scenes from a movie become fused with the memory of the “real” story. But I did wonder how much of the story she really knew firsthand and not from some picture book—because the movie captured God’s wrath from “Genesis” pretty accurately. I mean, God intends to destroy everything outside the ark. I suspect this would surprise her. And disturb her too. It did me.