by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Arguably the oldest story written that is familiar to most people would be that of the Bible. Now some know the story far better than others, but we can all recount the parts regarding Adam and Eve, Moses parting the Red Sea, the birth of Jesus, and, of course, that of Noah. And while some films have been made with biblical references (The TenCommandments, The Passion of the Christ), we haven’t seen the story of Noah until now. Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) brings his version of the great flood and the Ark to the big screen in Noah.
The story begins with a brief recap of Adam and Eve, the serpent, the eating of the forbidden fruit and man being removed from Eden by “The Creator”. There are then three men, Cain, Abel and Seth. As we know, Cain slays Abel, leaving two brothers. Cain’s family and people go on to build and destroy the land, while Seth leads a righteous life, to which Noah (Russell Crowe) is descended. After having visions of the destruction of man, Noah packs up his wife Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and three sons to travel and speak with his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) for a meaning. After receiving confirmation, he chooses to build an ark to save the innocent from the upcoming flood. Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone), proclaimed King, doesn’t like that Noah defies him and, when the rains begin, decides to take the Ark by force. Not only must Noah battle the impending flood, but also the evil of men as well.
It’s easy to say that Russell Crowe was the right man for the role of Noah, providing an exceptional interpretation of the character. Not only is this version of Noah humble and pious, teaching his children not to pick the “pretty” flowers as they need to stay in the ground to continue to populate, but he’s also a warrior. He believes full heartedly in The Creator’s plan and will see it done, even if it means having to kill a few of the unrighteous himself. Even to the point of sacrificing the happiness of his family for the greater good of the world. He cannot be spurned from his belief that humanity has earned its fate, even to the point where, he too, finds himself to be unworthy of surviving the destruction, choosing that his immediate family shall be the last humans to populate the earth. And when they die, then only animals shall continue on, as per The Creator’s plan. And, after the flood and the ark comes to rest, and the world is purified, we see deep despair and retrospect of the choices that he made, and almost made, which ends up alienating him from his family and causing new pathways of life to emerge.
One of the big downfalls of Noah is the overabundance of CGI usage. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was going to be inevitable that CGI would be used when trying to recreate such a story as that of Noah and the Ark. Having to bring thousands of animals, creating a boat to store all of them, and many of the wide shot visuals detailing the surrounding areas. But there are also the usage of “The Watchers”. Genesis mentions “giants” during the time of Noah, and Aronofsky decides to makes these fallen angels, in the form of rock creatures, who help Noah build the Ark and protect it from the onslaught of people once the flood begins. They resemble something out of The Hobbit, and not in a good way, and at times detract from the story, adding significant time on to the film which comes in at two hour and eighteen minutes long. There are also the various battle / fight sequences which add another depth to the story but, at times, really don’t feel like they belong.
Taking on the telling of Noah is a difficult task and all due respect is given to Aronofsky for his work. He was able to get great performances out of his actors, specifically Russell Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, and give us an entertaining film to watch. However, the greatness of the film is stripped away by some of its weaknesses, specifically the over use of CGI and the unnecessary rock monsters which feel completely out of place. Those expecting this to be a verbatim interpretation of the Biblical story should set those expectations aside as this film is not that. But the film is entertaining, albeit feeling long, and is worthwhile if just to watch how well Crowe portrays this version of Noah.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars