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Floods of moviegoers see 'Noah' and 'God's Not Dead,' but both films still garner criticism

Published: Wednesday, April 2 2014 9:57 a.m. MDT

The 'red carpet' looked like water at the UK premiere of Noah in Leicester Square, London, Monday March 31, 2014.

Jon Furniss, Associated Press

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Darren Aronofsky's big-budget film "Noah" was No. 1 in box office this weekend, despite — or perhaps because of — debates about the film's biblical accuracy.

The movie raked in over $44 million in ticket sales after its opening in the United States and has earned approximately $95 million overseas, according to The Los Angeles Times.

"It was a fantastic result," Megan Colligan, president of domestic marketing and distribution at Paramount, told the L.A. Times. "I think the movie really surprises people and makes them want to talk about it."

"God's Not Dead," another faith-based drama, also performed strongly in theaters over the weekend: The film maintained its No. 5 ranking.

Though "God's Not Dead" continues to attract Christians and "Noah" is drawing in boatloads of viewers, both films are still garnering severe criticism.

Dr. Brian Mattson, a theologian, added creative commentary to the "Noah" debate. He said the film is "a blatantly Gnostic subversion of the biblical story" (because it includes fleshless, glowing depictions of Adam and Eve and other Gnostic-inspired imagery) and wonders how Christian leaders, whether they support or condemn "Noah," missed that the Bible was not Aronofsky's inspiration.

"This was a thoroughly pagan retelling of the Noah story direct from Kabbalist and Gnostic sources," said Mattson.

Chris Sosa at Huffington Post called "God's Not Dead" "a reductionist but relatively tame piece of Evangelical propaganda pitting conservative Christianity against the forces of plurality in contemporary culture." He added the film disparages non-Christians.

Michael Gerson at The Washington Post offered an original critique of "Noah" and "God's Not Dead": Neither film qualifies as religious art, he said. Gerson explained that "Noah" did not reconceive religion (though it tried) with its "brooding, misanthropic vegan" main character, while the "God's Not Dead" filmmakers' one-dimensional portrayal of non-Christians shows Evangelical people (who know non-Christian groups are not caricatures, said Gerson) are superior to their art.

"Good religious art — or good art by religious people — does not shape a fantasy world to conform to pious platitudes," Gerson said. "It finds hints of grace among the ruins of broken lives, where most of us can only hope to find it. Art is only truly religious when it is fully human."

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