Film Review: Noah

This film review was originally published on The Orange Post on 29th March 2014.

“Visonary” director Darren Aronofsky’s latest opus is his take on the Biblical tale of Noah and the Ark. With an uncredited original story by, well, God, screenwriters Aronofsky and Ari Handel have concocted a strange, convoluted film that frankly left me cold. A humourless concoction, it’s part Transformers, part The Shining and part Gladiator, which deviates too far from traditional takes on the story for religious folk and is way too weird for everybody else.

Noah (Russell Crowe in serious mode) and his family are the world’s first vegans, scratching amongst the rocks for tasty lichens and moss, when word comes from “The Creator” (God is never mentioned by name throughout the whole picture) that the human race will be wiped out by a worldwide flood. Descendants of Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins playing a wizened man, much like his role in Thor: The Dark World), they are tasked with building an ark to save the innocent, that is, the animal kingdom.

At this point, the unbalanced nature of the film reveals itself. With a forest miraculously springing up around them, the ark is suddenly built in a single edit, with not a montage in sight. This is all due to the assistance of “The Watchers”, archangels trapped on earth, encrusted in stone. Think rock Transformers. A jarring instrument, I’m not surprised that they do not appear in the film’s trailer.

As the leader of the ancestors of Cain (as in Cain and Abel), Ray Winstone as Tubal-cain is appropriately nasty. Knowing that the ark is his people’s only salvation, their attempt to hijack the Ark is thwarted by the Transformers, er, Watchers with only Winstone sneaking aboard.

With the ark ready, we are rushed along to the flood and onto an inordinate amount of screen time at sea.

Once on the ark, the films takes a turn to The Shining territory with Noah determined to put an end to the human race with a plan that will result in the demise of his wife (a gaunt Jennifer Connolly), his sons Ham (logan Lerman), Shem (Douglas Booth) and Japheth (leo McHugh Carroll) as well as his pregnant adopted daughter Ila (Emma Watson). Although Aronofsky’s decision to give us the story from Noah’s perspective is admirable, it is pretty hard for the audience to empathise with any of the lead characters, particularly when the titular protagonist becomes the antagonist midway through the feature.

As for the CGI animals, they indeed enthusiastically board the ark two by two and then are promptly put into magic hibernation. I guess that saves on the catering problems. With Emma Watson’s Ila becoming pregnant pre-flood and giving birth on board, the menagerie must have been pretty hungry after nine months of sleeping. Add to this gap in logic a bunch of mysterious glowing fire making stones dug up from the Garden of Eden and you have a fairly simple premise that is sunk (pun intended) by too many elements, including Noah’s quick turn into alcoholism.

The performances are all uniformly strong, although the script often slides into melodrama. Crowe is deservedly the lynchpin of the film, but I would have appreciated just a hint of humour or warmth.

By the end of the two hour flick, I was yearning for dry land and the inevitable incest dilemma (both animal and human) to commence. Worn thin by this curious beast of a motion picture, I wholeheartedly agreed with Noah when he proclaimed, “We are all being punished.”

Published in: on April 6, 2014 at 23:05  Leave a Comment  
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