Director: Darren Aronofsky
Starring: Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connolly, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson, Anthony Hopkins, Logan Lerman
Written by: Darren Aronofsky and Ari Handel
Running Time: 139 mins
Release date: 4th April 2014
Let’s get this off the bat. Noah is absolutely bonkers. If you think you are going to get some religious epic in comparison to the great Bible movies of the past like The Ten Commandments, then you will be sorely misled because I still have no idea what director Darren Aronofsky was trying to do with this Old Testament story. Apart from being off its rocker, I also have to say that it is a bit of a bore as well.
Noah lives with his three sons and wife in a quiet remote part of the world. He is given a sign by The Creator and travels to find his grandfather, Methuselah, a wise man who gives him a seed. Noah plants it and a forest is born, when he uses to build a mighty ark in order to save the animals from a great flood that is coming to wipe out the anger and murderous ways of the rest of the Earth. In the process, Noah becomes obsessed with his mission that could affect the blood line of his own family.
So we have a well-known part of the bible. A simple tale of a man who built an ark because God told him to and then the animals came in two by two. Simple. Clear-cut. No-nonsense. Aronofsky has taken this simple tale and given us…well, quite frankly, I haven a clue. What he’s given us is giant rock monsters who are angels captured in clay and mud. We have hundreds of yobs who pop up and want food and don’t care where they find it. We have a goodly man who turns complete psycho and we have a film that needed to be cut badly as it runs out of steam long before the end.
Visually it is a treat, there’s no denying that. It looks beautiful and Aronofsky does have a flair for great cinematic visions. The special effects are incredible, from the arrival of the animals to the flood itself. This is where the positivity ends, unfortunately.
Taking a bible story and giving it a unique spin is perfectly acceptable but when you include giant rocks that talk and help build the ark, in a barren wasteland that looks like the set for Mad Max, you start to lose it. Kicking off the film with a neon-glowing asp and a pulsating apple, you know it’s going to mess with your head and later, when we see Adam and Eve and they are like brightly lit aliens, you can possibly see what Aronfosky was trying to do but it just doesn’t work. Even God isn’t mentioned but he is The Creator. Is this so not to upset the non-Christian community?
The other thing that fails for the film is the ark itself. Looking like some enormous storage container, once the flood comes along, where does the film go? Let’s face it, that’s what the audience is familiar with and that’s what they want to see. The Ten Commandments had the same problem. Once the Red Sea was parted, what’s next? What Aronofsky does is make his lead character, a humble and goodly man, go totally nuts, alienating himself from the audience and giving us an extra 40 minutes which are both ponderous and slow to the point of sheer boredom.
The performances, as you would expect, are larger than life. As the title character, Russell Crowe gets to show his quiet, deep-thinking side to then go full psychotic by the end. He handles both with great aplomb but I did think that he was challenging his Romper Stomper days for the final Noah. Disturbing to say the least.
Anthony Hopkins plays, well, Anthony Hopkins as Methuselah, like a hermit in a cave with his long, unkept hair and broad Welsh accent. Emma Watson is fine as Ham’s wife, Ila and Ray Winstone is the daddy! No, he’s not but he plays villain Tubal-cain and with all the silliness going on around him, he still manages to pull off his tough guy persona that we all know and love. Although he does deliver the most unexpected and unintentional laughs when he manages to mention Man United in a rousing speech to the troops (well, it sounds like it).
The saving grace is Jennifer Connolly who brings a little sincerity to her role of Noah’s wife, Naameh. As undervalued as she is in the acting world, she delivers every time and this is no exception. A beautiful, peaceful and underplayed part that holds the film together and she is the only one who I genuinely believed throughout.
Full of controversy after Paramount took the film and showed three versions to religious groups without Aronofsky’s knowledge, in order to see if they were offended, I think that the only thing they could be upset about how incredibly dull the last part is. I like Aronofsky as a director and his past work has shown him to be a real visionary in the art of cinema but unfortunately, this fails massively. It really didn’t rock my boat.