he Good Book makes for good storylines — or so some Hollywood leaders must surmise these days.
From Moses to Jesus, the Bible’s biggest characters can mean big money at the box office, not to mention big reactions from the nation’s faithful. Many Christians have sounded off on recent biblical works such as “Son of God,” in which some critics see a toned Jesus as too sexy, to “Noah,” which features a semi-crazed lead character convinced God is finishing off the human race rather than saving it in an ark amid a great flood.
Moreover, heralded director Ridley Scott’s latest, “Exodus: Gods and Kings,” is expected to be released in December, staring Christian Bale as Moses.
But Columbus movie buff Debbie Seeley hopes the flick highlighting an epic flood floats into oblivion.
“I thought ‘Noah’ was a piece of garbage,” said Seeley, who prefers mainstream films tackling biblical elements rather than overtly Christian-tagged flicks that she often feels whitewash too much. “I had read enough reviews beforehand to know it had been slammed early on by a lot of Christians. I felt I should go, though, and form my own opinion.
“But it included giant rock people with glowing eyes (to represent fallen angels that the book of Genesis calls “watchers”). Rock people? Seriously?”
She also, like a couple of other Columbus residents, was more disturbed to see Russell Crowe’s Noah as a man determined to kill his daughter’s baby girl to make certain spiritually darkened and evil humans become extinct. In Scripture, by contrast, Noah is presented as a savior figure with no daughter before an eventually merciful God.
“The one good thing about a lot of this,” Seeley said, “is that I heard that many people are going back and rereading Genesis.”
She made it clear that she hardly expects writers to mimic the Bible on the big screen.
For example, she loved a “Son of God” scene highlighting Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead not by calling out to him as the gospels indicate but instead by awakening him with a simple kiss.
Sarah Campbell took members of Columbus’ First United Methodist Church’s youth group to a recent showing of “Noah.” She noted departures from Scripture early in the film but trusted her students to judge the release for themselves.
“They all know the story very well,” Campbell said.
“And when a movie like this is presented this differently, it’s not a presentation of a Bible story; it’s entertainment. And viewers have to be ready to go in with their eyes open.”
Campbell mentioned that the story offered enough variations from the Genesis account of the ark and the flood that it triggered plenty of thought afterward.
“It definitely opened a very good discussion,” Campbell said.
Youth group member Emma Jones went back to Genesis to recheck various passages after seeing the film. First, she wanted to make sure she hadn’t missed a biblical assertion from Noah that God wanted to end the human race.
“That idea was totally new to me,” Jones said.
“I just didn’t expect it. Afterward, the more I thought about it, I guess using something like that could kind of make sense. But at the same time, I never would have come up with something like that.”
Because of the disappointment with “Noah,” Jones is a bit more hesitant to see “Exodus” at year’s end.
“I certainly don’t think the director (Darren Aranofsky) did anything especially wrong,” Jones said, adding that a friend liked the film a lot. “I just didn’t like what he did.”
Columbus’ Shelby Bricker offered one lighthearted reminder to her peers who were disappointed with the flick.
“You know what they say,” Bricker told them. “The book is always better better than the movie.”