Not only is The Bible a wealth of information for those of faith, but it’s also a wealth of material for any prospective filmmaker. The stories within that book are plentiful and filled with awe-inspiring tales that have stood the test if time. Of course, there’s always going to be someone pissed-off with a biblical adaptation, as some are more caring about which things are detailed in a story. For me, I don’t care what you do, as long as it entertains and is the film you want it to be. That’s what a movie is, is it not? The “based on a true story” bit is understood to most audiences now and at the end of the day, you’re watching a movie. The question is, were you entertained?
Noah (Russell Crowe) is one of the descendants of the first men on Earth. He’s the remaining descendant of Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) and he lives a simple, innocent life with his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and there three sons. As for the rest of the world, Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) has constructed cities with the help of “The Watchers” (Fallen Angels encased in stone) and has proclaimed himself King of the Earth. As mankind destroys the Earth and itself, Noah is provided a vision from The Creator and foresees the end of the world. The Earth shall be consumed by a great flood and it will be cleansed of sell the evil that is present. Unsure of the vision, Noah and his family head out to find Methuselah at his mountain, in hopes of being able to decipher the vision.
In another vision, Noah sees every creature of the Earth wading through the water and into some sort of vessel. It’s clear that Noah must build an Ark and must do so with the help of The Watchers, who a reluctant to help man. Over the span of years, Noah’s sons grew into young men as they built the Ark and his oldest son Shem (Douglas Booth) found love with the barren Ila (Emma Watson). His middle son, Ham (Logan Lerman), grew weary for a wife and his youngest, Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll), retained his innocence. However, as tensions with the impending flood mount, everyone must stay pure and true in order to survive. As the creatures come two-by-two, Cain’s new army seeks passage aboard the Ark as well. A battle will occur, but will it matter if the flood is still coming? What will The Creator do?
Noah is the latest film from the visionary mind of director Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler, Black Swan, Requiem For A Dream). Not only is this film an epic take on a classic story, but Aronofsky remains true to his vision and understanding of the story of Noah. Some artistic liberties are taken, as this is a movie, but this film remains true to the values and lessons that the story was supposed to evoke. The visuals are stylized and stellar and the acting is, for the most part, superb. There’s a lot to enjoy with this film, regardless of your religious affiliations (that you should check at the door if you want to have a good time).
For me, a young mind still pondering all things religion, I found Aronofsky’s Noah to be very truthful to the story that I grew up hearing. Most people have heard of the Ark and the great flood and that’s about it. There’s so much more to the story and Aronofsky chooses to interpret some of the subtext in his own way and I loved that about this film. The Watchers were stone creatures that resembled Angles who fell to Earth after disobeying The Creator. The scenario of battle and bloodthirsty men makes sense for the impending doom. Even the characters are explored in-depth for all their flaws and all their longings. There is only so much that is written in The Bible and Aronofsky chooses to see it in a different way (that’s not necessarily a bad way). Aronofsky did his own interpretation and didn’t second-guess himself on it and that trust in his decision makes this film all the more appealing.
Russell Crowe is tasked with commanding this biblical epic and he does a tremendous job. His Noah is a complex character who is always ready to serve The Creator. He sees the evil in people, but also realizes that there is good in the world. He wants to do his part and he and his family lead humble lives. However, he also knows that he is not without evil in himself and realizes that man has been flawed since the time of Adam & Eve. Crowe is courageous when he needs to be, but is also terrifying and unrelenting in his actions as he serves The Creator. Jennifer Connelly plays a great wife to Noah, as her sincerity and love for her family keeps Noah from being too drastic. Booth’s Shem is a lustful young man looking for a wife and Watson’s Ila is horribly conflicted, as she wishes she could provide a child for Shem. Her emotional sequences are so genuine and they really stand out in the film. Watson’s Perks of Being a Wallflower co-star, Lerman, plays an interesting Ham, as he’s without anyone to love and is so desperately searching for that which he desires, that he’s blinded by the reality of the situations around him. As for Winstone, he’s a brute of a man who truly believes all the evil he’s spitting out. The characters in this film really sell this interpretation of the story.
The visuals and audio would have to be the other standout aspects of this film. Every image is so crisp and gorgeous that you can’t help but drool from time-to-time. There are many sequences cutting back to the Garden of Eden that are so unique and wonderful, as well as the dream sequences that Noah has. The settings are large in scale and are used to their full advantage, especially as the Ark is being constructed. The film’s score reminded me a lot of The Lord of the Rings, as it finds a balance of epic and sincere. The war sequences are led by a tremendous battle theme and the more gentle moments are accompanied by soft tunes that add their own emotion to the scene. Everything blends together well to make this movie something truly great.
Timing should be everything in this film, but it’s unfortunately not. The film feels and is longer than it really should be and there were a couple of times where I looked down to check the time, An unusual amount of time is spent trying to weave multiple stories lines together, despite the fact that they didn’t mix well at all. There’s also a lot of buildup when it comes to the flood and that scene is over in a brief moment. You’d think that they’d devote more time and care to the pivotal sequence in this biblical story. Being partially a disaster film, I wish there had been more shots of the people on the outside of the Ark and how they’re fairing in the newly flooded world. Oh, and those Watchers, while looking interesting, moved very sluggishly and they just seemed awkward when they walked. Perhaps that’s just me…
Regardless of your religious beliefs, or lack thereof, there’s a lot to like about Noah for any audience member. I really didn’t find any issues with the storytelling and I’m befuddled over the fact that there’s so much “controversy” about this film. People are just looking for excuses to bash this awesome movie and you must pay them no heed. This grandiose tale is a marvel to witness and will finally give your mind a visual to accompany that old story with. I’d highly suggest you go out and see this movie and think it over, as it’s got a lot to offer. Hopefully, you may like it as much as I did and will realize just how awesome it is.