Director: Darren Aronofsky
Cast: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Anthony Hopkins
Plot: In a desolate wasteland, man destroys everything the Creator made. One of the few remaining true-believers, Noah, receives a vision, telling him how to save His image.
I had a feeling that I wouldn’t like Noah from the very start. Bible stories aren’t really my cup of tea. However, as the release date got nearer, I began to get interested in the idea of reimagining this slice of the Bible into an adventure story modern cinema-goers could get behind, no matter their beliefs. Sadly, my expectations would have better left low.
The problem with Noah is that it is so difficult to take seriously. Aronofsky is clearly going for the true Epic feel of this film, harnessing classic religious figures portrayed by the likes of Chartlon Heston, way back in the 50s. From the very beginning, we are treated to an opening credit sequence that jumps out at you, instantly grabbing your attention. It feels all very loud and brash, a little jarring. It doesn’t help that we go through a quick Bible lesson using comic book like montages, as if this is going to be Adam and Eve: The Movie – by Zack Snyder. We are then thrown into a Fantasy world, where Russell Crowe’s Noah stands high and mighty, looking down on the tyranny of man. The dialogue is hammy and the unintentional cheese factor made it impossible for me to connect with the story. I thought the animals coming in two-by-two would be the bit that made me throw belief out of the window, but in reality, it was the way that Crowe and Connelly would project their lines, as if they were delivering some great piece of theatre. I was struggling not to snigger through a lot of the opening scenes.
Everything about Aronofsky’s direction strives for great. It tries a little too hard however. Certain splashes of directional genius feel pretentious rather than cutting-edge. There is a silhoutte-frame, ripped straight from a Sin City scene, that serves little purpose to the narrative or imagery. The scenes where we follow the river to symbolise several years passing seemed like I had just been thrown into a documentary, that was also trying too hard. The major fight that the trailer put emphasis into is a massive mess of CGI rock monsters smashing faceless crowds of people. It is a dull crash and it is hard to care for what you are seeing. Russell Crowe doesn’t help matters. Admittedly, there were moments when Noah became a fairly interesting character and when his mind goes to a dark place for the Creator, I could see what Aronofsky had in mind when pitching this Bible epic. However, there is something about Crowe that, again, feels too forced. It feels a little OSCAR season, when the movie begins to revolve around an Epic performance (there’s that word again – note the repetitive captialisation in this review), especially as some of the characters, especially Connelly seem to be featured to reflect Noah’s traits. Connelly is let down by the fact that her character is getting in the way all the time. I understand that women leading to sin and temptation (whether that is a good thing or bad thing – she has some good points, especially the whole ‘not killing children’ thing), is an important part of the Bible, but it has been done to death so often in cinema that it feels like a wasted role for the character. Watson and Hopkins are also much better than the material, held back by a story that asks them to be broad strokes, rather than characters in their own rights.
The second half of the film sees Aronofsky get things back on track, as if he really wanted to make a movie about this side of Noah’s story. Noah is near the end of his quest for the Creator, but then a twist he didn’t see coming (but we all did), gets thrown into the works, and he ends up needing to do some nasty things. Noah almost becomes the bad guy in the story and his family are the helpless followers. This could be an interesting stab at religion itself. Also, the star of the show for me, Logan Lerman, comes into play. Lerman plays Haim, the son that doesn’t quite share his father’s devotion and when he begins to realise his life is falling apart, because of some vision that might have happened, he begins to revolt. He does some bad things and I guess he could be classed as a villian, but we never hate the character. In fact, I related to him the most, because he was stuck between believing or not believing, which is something the average movie-goer is able to relate to. Even in the final fight, he is unable to pick a side, stuck to the sidelines, helpless.
Beats like that I enjoyed. No, I didn’t like this film, but at times, I appreciate the intelligence behind it. Noah’s story could be a microcosm for many things. The conservation of animals is the obvious context to pick out, but we could also discuss the bond of families or whether Noah is a hero or a religious zealot who nearly wipes out humanity, because of a voice in his head. Sure, sometimes the morals that Aronofsky is trying to convey lack subtlety and I began to get sick of having harsh truths shoved into my face at the twenty minute mark. However, I can appreciate what he was trying to do here. I wish he was just good enough to actually do that.
Final Verdict: Not for me. Noah has been slated for being controversial, when really the bigger problem is that it just isn’t that enjoyable.