- RatedNC16 /GenreAdventure
‘Noah’, of course, is a telling of Noah's Ark, the biblical account of a man who saved a special troop of people and animals from a destructive flood due to God’s wrath with mankind.
Darren Aronofsky, the director behind dark depressing films such ‘Black Swan’, ‘The Wrestler’ and ‘Requiem For A Dream’, is the man behind this reimagining of this classic.
The film has been plagued by lots of controversy leading up to its release, such as numerous reports of tension between Aronofsky and film studio Paramount over the control of the final cut of the film, before Paramount announced that the director’s cut would be the version released.
And of course, being a story of a religious nature, there is always going to be the debate of how much it deviates from the biblical account. Paramount responded by placing a disclaimer (below) that stays on screen for a full two minutes or so before the show begins.
"The film is inspired by the story of Noah. While artistic licence has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide. The biblical story of Noah can be found in the book of Genesis."
Having addressed that, the story, save for a few changes to fit the structure of a movie's narrative, is pretty much what you would expect.
Noah (Russell Crowe), having glimpsed a vision of the great flood, starts building an ark with the help of Naameh (Jennifer Connelly), sons Shem, Ham, Japeth and adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson) to save the creatures of the animal kingdom.
Aronofsky is known for dazzling audiences with his brand of visual techniques. Even in his polarising worst (‘The Fountain’, ahem), his use of hip-hop-inspired montages, tracking shots and time lapses are always impressive. So you can imagine what he could do with a giant flood and all of the world's animals.
He doesn't disappoint. In his vision, the world in Noah’s time is a dirty, grim one, ravaged by humans and their king Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), a descendant of Cain.
There are some breathtaking sights, showcasing the world's landscapes and creatures in some CGI shots that wouldn't look out of place in a David Attenborough documentary
Even his take on the fallen angels is wildly impressive.
Thankfully, the movie isn't all sight and sound. At the heart of it all is Russell Crowe, who gives a steady, grounded performance as the titular character.
Crowe's portrayal of Noah manages to dig deep into the complicated psyche of the man tasked to save all of life, but not that of man. He is full of survivor guilt, yet determined to finish the task.
This weariness is played with nuance by Crowe, along with some good makeup (though it's worth noting that Jennifer Connelly doesn't seem to age as much correspondingly)
Logan Lerman (as second son Ham), Watson and Connelly also turn in some fine performances, although they are hampered by short screen time and little character development.
Winstone, though distracting in any role where he is not an Irish gangster, is impressive as the vicious Tubal-cain. The stark opposite of Noah, he comes off as a little admirable even in his villainy.
Still, the movie is clumsy in many other departments, chief of which is its sluggish pace.
The biblical drama turns into a war film, then a disaster flick, with some Terrence Malick ‘Tree Of Life’-like moments interspersed in between.
Sure, it may be far from being Aronofsky's best work and comes off looking like a weird by-product of various spare parts, but ‘Noah’ is still undeniably impressive with its dazzling visuals and strong actors.
It is a thought-provoking rumination on mankind, the planet we occupy and its themes of faith, mercy and fatal obsession.
‘Noah’ is now showing in cinemas