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Noah’s Ark (1999) – DVD Review

noahs ark dvd cover


Written by: Peter Barnes
Directed by: John Irvin
Starring: Jon Voight, Mary Steenburgen, F. Murray Abraham, James Coburn, Carol Kane


  • Trailer
  • Interactive memory game

Released by: Lions Gate
Region: 1
Rating: NR
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Hand it over to Torquemada.

Long ago, there was a man named Noah (Voight), who lived with his wife (Steenburgen) near the town of Sodom. Yes, you read that right. His best friend, Lot (Abraham) was as wicked as Noah was virtuous. One day the Lord (the voice of Voight) decided that he was going to warn humanity away from its wicked ways by destroying Sodom. He does so, but warns Noah so he and his family can get away. After this, humanity still doesn’t learn–so the Lord is going to take more drastic steps.

[ad#longpost]This film is utterly despicable. It is the Battlefield Earth of biblical epics. As you read above, the liberties taken with the source material were absolutely criminal. The story of Sodom and Gomorrah is combined with that of Noah’s Ark. Lot is transformed into an antagonist, and eventually a pirate. The destruction of Sodom is Armageddon B.C. The Ark is set upon by villains straight out of some freaked out version of Waterworld. Noah asks for a sign from the Almighty and gets chased down a mountain by lava for his troubles. And what’s worse, what makes this film and all those involved with it worthy of condemnation: the God that they portray is arbitrary, cruel and downright nasty. What’s more, God keeps us around not to glorify Himself–a highly dubious prospect but nevertheless a valid take on our creation in this particular mythos–but simply to amuse Him. This is driven home by Voight dancing and whistling about the deck of the boat as God laughs at him. Not that the Judeo-Christian God is ever painted as a completely swell guy, you know, but this goes above and beyond regular interpretation and into the realm of Disgust.

It is utterly amazing how bad the film is. I wish I could convey it in words, but I’m just flat out stunned. I wish I could understand how actors with the caliber of Voight, Coburn and Abraham could sign on to such a heap of steaming dung. But after reading the production notes for this farce, I feel that my Battlefield Earth comparison was justified: as near as I can tell, these people actually thought they were doing a good thing.

Why in the world did the creators of this atrocity feel like the story of the Ark was not enough? It’s bad enough that the Ark portion of the film was feature length in itself–but to tack an hour on before we even get to the actual story that the film is based on? And why did they feel the need to inject humor into the story? Somebody already did that and did it well, the gent’s name was Bill Cosby. We didn’t need another humorous take on things. We certainly didn’t need the ham-fisted attempts at being funny, scored with the annoyingly obvious “Time to be funny” music that lies underneath it–just in case you didn’t understand what they were aiming for. Poorly written, it’s a seething mass of anachronistic cliche. Dialogue is driven by such platitudes as “When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you.” There are scores of others, but I’ve mercifully shut them out of my mind.

noahs ark voight lava
Jon Voight as Noah being chased down a mountain by lava

As for the disc itself, there’s not much to offset its vile contents. Just a trailer and an “interactive memory game,” where you have to pick boxes and try and match animals. Normally, a game like this isn’t a big deal to get through, but considering how long the disc takes to move from selection to animal and then back to the game board, it’s almost impossible to remember what was where.

If you haven’t gotten the idea that this was dreadful yet, then I’m off my game. Suffice to say, even though God promised never to destroy us with water again, this film would be enough to change His mind.

F. Murray Abraham as Lot in Noah's Ark
Pirate Cap'n Lot here, requestin' permission to come aboard, aye, so I be...

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  • I saw Noah’s Ark on tv and just had to go to rottentomato to see if I missed something. I didn’t!! You put into beautiful prose all the bad things I thought about this movie. I lost 3 hours of my life, just glad I didn’t pay to see this.