Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Noah vs. Son of God, two films tackling the Good Book.
PremiseChances are that you already know what these two films are about. Noah takes its plot from the Old Testament and the story of Noah’s Ark: Noah, the only righteous man in a world of wickedness, is warned by God of his plans to wipe out all mankind. God tells Noah to build an ark and save himself and his family, and bring two of every kind of animal onboard with him. The movie sticks to the basic story, but adds a political plotline with the King and his subjects attempting to storm the ark. In this film, Noah is a little more complex than God’s faithful servant and we see him struggle with the weight of the task at hand. Son of God tells the story of Jesus Christ from his birth to his resurrection, with his life (mostly the miracles he performs) and crucifixion by the Romans given special attention. Son of God is a pretty faithful adaptation of the common interpretations and events of the Bible. Advantage: Tie
Portrayal of ProtagonistsIt’s hard to compare Noah and Jesus. As characters go, they’re both pretty epic. However, Russell Crowe and Son of God’s Diogo Morgado seem to have taken pretty different approaches to bringing these larger-than-life characters to the screen. Crowe’s Noah seems a bit conflicted—he is haunted, rather than reassured, by his visions; he doesn’t know if he can trust his own interpretations of God. Morgado’s Jesus seems to be entirely sure of himself, even in the face of persecution. If you’re the son of God, we imagine you would be confident, but we’re more excited for Crowe’s nuanced Noah.Advantage: Noah
DirectorNoah is directed by Golden Globe and Oscar nominee Darren Aronofsky, whom we do not hesitate to call a visionary. Aronofsky previously directed seriously good films Black Swan, The Wrestler, Requiem for a Dream, and Pi. The director of Son of God, Christopher Spencer, has more of a television background. He directed a few episodes of the miniseries The Bible, from which Son of God is adapted. We’d probably see a movie of paint drying if Aronofsky directed it.Advantage: Noah
CastRumor has it everyone tried to get the role of Noah. It went to Russell Crowe, who, though he has suffered a few missteps recently (not everyone was a fan of his singing in Les Misérables, not to mention whatever was up with Robin Hood), has given some great performances. He’s a three-time Oscar nominee, and he won for Gladiator. The cast is rounded out by fellow Oscar-winners Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Hopkins, as well as young talent Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Douglas Booth, who is also really pretty. While we love supporting unknown actors, and Son of God boasts a ton of potential stars, Noah’s cast is just too stacked to ignore.Advantage: Noah
AccentsWhy is it that all movies taking place in the distant past somehow render everyone English? We winced through Brad Pitt‘s Anglo-Achilles in Troy, but the trend has stuck around. Both Noah and Jesus sound more Henry VII than Semitic. When will this stop?Advantage: Neither
VisualsTaking cues from the grandeur of their sources, both films went bold and dramatic with the visuals. It’s hard not to spend a lot when you’re working from what is widely considered the Word of God. Both films seem to have used a lot of CGI, but we prefer Noah’s darker take on the Bible—dark, moody tones, overcast skies, bleak forests—to Son of God’s desert oasis. Advantage: Noah
Oscar OddsWith Aronofsky attached, Noah is bound to get a few nominations. If the director weren’t enough, the film is full of acting titans, all previous nominees: Hopkins is a legend, Crowe is the leading man’s leading man, and Connelly has a way of exuding both power and vulnerability. There’s really no way Son of God gets nominated.Advantage: Noah
The VerdictEven with the cringe-inducing English accents, Noah looks promising. A director known for his darkly psychological films, paired with a leading man who excels at playing powerful yet tortured leading men, is bound to be good. The End of the World is a popular theme for movies in 2013, and the story of Noah is the original apocalyptic tale. It’s really no competition. We can’t wait to see the layers Aronofsky and cast bring to one of the best-known stories in the west.Winner: Noah
Trailer Face-Off runs every Thursday. For more, click here.