The Noah's Ark Principle 2002 Horror Movie Review
Horror movies Review
I’m not a huge fan of writer/director Roland Emmerich, especially after recently sitting through his recent schmaltzfest The Day After Tomorrow (2004), but I did enjoy one of his earlier films in 1994’s Stargate. His version of Godzilla (1998) wasn’t so bad, and Independence Day (1996), despite starring Will `Mr. Overexposed’ Smith, was enjoyable on the first pass, but subsequent viewings, once you get past the amazing special effects (or the `Wow’ factor), highlight huge, gaping holes throughout the story. Whatever criticisms I may have about the Emmerich and his techniques (I think his main problem is trying to cover up unsubstantial plots with dazzling special effects), I will concede he has the ability to entertain, so long as you can buy what he’s selling, in terms of not looking too deeply into his stories, but rather just enjoying the ride (I tried to do this for his The Day After Tomorrow, but I just couldn’t get past the sloppiness within the plot). The Noah’s Ark Principle (1984) is credited as Emmerich’s first, real feature, a film he wrote and directed as his graduate film school project. It’s a German production, featuring a German cast, none of whom I’m familiar with, so I won’t delve into their particulars.
The year is 1997 (remember, this film was released in 1984, so it’s intended to be set in the not so distant future), and there’s a happenins’ going on at the Florida Arklab international space station (yeah, I know…seems like kind of a dumb name for an international space station). The purpose of the station seems to be mainly to monitor the weather on Earth, and provide global forecast reports, with the possibility of in the future the station actually influencing the weather by some means as yet unexplained. There are also some experiments that consist of studying the effects of living in space (well, not actually living in space, but living long term on a space station) on various rodents, reptiles, and amphibians. You see, the inclusion of this plot aspect, featuring an extremely paltry amount of creatures and the so called study, justifies why the station should be populated, as if it was just intended to collect information and provide reports on Earth weather patterns, an unmanned satellite would be more than sufficient. Anyway, after an explosive situation develops in the Middle East, the astronauts begin receiving strange orders to bombard parts of the Persian Gulf with radiation for reasons not made clear to them. The men begin to question their orders, soon refusing to cooperate, and even resorting to sabotage to prevent further instances of ground control from using the station for purposes other than its’ seemingly original intent. This prompts ground control to send another team, the conspiracy deepens, and eventually leads to murder. What is the purpose behind all the subterfuge? Well, if you got the patience, you can spend an hour and a half like I did to find out, cause I ain’t gonna tell you…
First off, let me just say this is a really boring movie. There just seemed so very little going on, and even when something did happen, it really wasn’t much and seemed hardly worth waiting for…the film begins with an astronaut arriving back on Earth, being questioned about recent events, and his role in said events. The rest of the movie is basically a flashback, relating the astronaut’s story, interspersed with scenes from the present. The acting is not too bad, although there is a tendency for some, especially the younger astronaut, to go overboard (you’d think space agencies and their extensive testing programs would weed out certain, easily excitable individuals). The direction of the film is actually pretty good and displayed a real professional quality in a utilitarian sense, although I thought Emmerich spent way too much time on filler materials (the extensive showing of computer screens, blinking lights, etc.) which really caused the story to crawl at a snail’s pace. The main problem for me was the complete lack of tension, which I think was based on me not really caring about the characters as they just didn’t seem real. Very little was put forth to make them live and breath, which wasn’t a result of poor acting, but a poor script. The special effects were surprisingly sophisticated (the exteriors of the space station looked really good), as were the sets, causing a few minor elements that didn’t fit in to really stand out, i.e. the use of your standard, aluminum ladders used to travel from one floor of the station to another. With all the gizmos and gadgets populating the sets, it seemed odd that they couldn’t have popped for something that seemed a little more `permanent’ looking rather than something borrowed from the lighting guys, bungee corded to the wall. Indicative of most all of Emmerich’s films, he dazzles the audience with glossy and attractive visuals, in hopes that it will cover up any inherent problems within the plot and/or the script, and also to hide the very often two-dimensional nature of the characters. It was obvious here that he had a lot of potential, and I think he’s a good director, but he should keep directing, but leave the writing to someone else. If you’re a fan of Emmerich, there may be some appeal here, but in the end, this is basically a good-looking sci-fi lacking in substance.
The widescreen (2.35:1) picture on this Anchor Bay DVD release looks exceptionally clear and sharp, with very decent audio. The original dialogue is in German, but there are English subtitles, along with an English dubbed audio track. All in all, I give two stars for the film, and one extra for the excellent release.