|NOAH (director/writer: Darren Aronofsky; screenwriter: Ari Handel; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editor: Andrew Weisblum; music: Clint Mansell; cast: Russell Crowe (Noah), Jennifer Connelly (Naameh), Ray Winstone (Tubal-Cain), Emma Watson (Ila), Anthony Hopkins (Methuselah), Logan Lerman (Ham), Douglas Booth (Shem), Leo McHugh Carroll (Japheth), Frank Langella (voice of Og), Nick Nolte (voice of Samyaza); Runtime: 137; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Darren Aronofsky/ Scott Franklin/Mary Parent/Arnon Milchan; Paramount; 2014)|
|"Gives us a
slightly different Noah from the one in the
Bible to pore over, which might bother some
viewers more than others."
by Dennis Schwartz
Aronofsky ("Pi"/"The Fountain"/"Requiem
for a Dream") co-writes with Ari Handel,
Aronofsky's Harvard roomie, this uneven, awkwardly
executed, controversial biblical epic disaster flick.
It revisits the flood in The Book of Genesis
story and re-introduces to us the popular Sunday
school story with a bunch of new characters and
situations. The often hokey visionary Aronofsky, whose
bouts with mysticism can be quite a loopy trip,
creates a conflicted Noah (Russell Crowe) who
sternly acts upon his dreams and after conferring
with the unseen Maker to save the
innocent animals and his family decides to build an
Ark to ride out the flood that a vengeful God invoked
to destroy the vile descendents of Cain.
Brooklyn-born, 45-year-old secular Jewish filmmaker,
brings in digitally created sci-fi creatures (guardian
angels called the Watchers, who seem like leftovers
from the Transformers set), clumsily shot action pic
fight scenes and overwrought family feuds in his
biblical take about how an authoritarian and
ecological-orientated vegan like Noah, someone who
thrives on being the 'chosen one' to fulfill heaven's
will of only saving the innocent from an Apocalypse.
The pic tries to keep the spirit of the O.T. story, as
it goes on telling how the Maker wanted to correct the
botched creation with a possible do over creation
after the flood. The risky film, much to be admired
for taking chances few mainstream blockbuster's do,
veers off-course from the biblical tale at times and
gives us a slightly different Noah from the one in the
Bible to pore over. This might bother some viewers
more than others. How credible Aronson's version of
Noah is, is the question that I think will determine
if you like the movie or not.
ambitious film, meant to be taken serious but walking
on the edge of being risible, is elegantly filmed.
Despite its revisionist touches and contentious
contemporary takes on its fighting mad shipbuilder
hero, it still looks like a throwback to those
spectacular Hollywood biblical epics of the
past--popcorn flicks which bring back a nostalgia for
the big studio films. But, it at the same time, left
me unimpressed with its clunky dialogue, shallow New
Age religious leanings and lack of a believable drama.
its prologue sets up the story by reviewing the
original sin in the Garden of Eden, it tells us how
messed up the world became after Cain killed his
brother Abel and only the lineage descended from their
other brother Seth obeyed the Lord. We learn Noah was
from Seth's lineage, which was on the run from the
bestial Cain descendents, and in ritual Noah wraps a
snakeskin around his arm, as his eccentric oracular
aged father Methuselah (Anthony
Hopkins) did, as a reminder that
everything on Earth is owed to the Creator of Adam and
story picks up with the 500-year-old protective Noah,
living in fear of being hunted down by the tribal
warfare of the Cain rabble in the desolate desert of
Canaan, trekking to the top of a mountain to reunite
with the hiding Methuselah. The
humble, God-fearing Noah dwells with his loyal wife
Naameh (Jennifer Connelly) and their dutiful
sons, Shem (Douglas Booth ), Ham (Logan
Lerman) and Japheth (Leo McHugh Carroll).
Also becoming part of their family is the orphan
Ila (Emma Watson), someone they rescue who becomes
romantically linked to Shem. The problem is that she's
barren, that is until the mystical Methuselah
lays a magical hand on her and soon after a
heated romp in the hay with Shem results in her
pregnancy. That presents another problem as Noah
becomes unlikable as the crazed dogmatic messenger of
the Lord, whom he believes is telling him to slay the
twins that Ila gave birth to.
magnificent looking Ark, the real star of the pic,
gets built (following the exact specs laid down in the
Bible--it was built on a 5-acre grassy
field in a state park in Oyster Bay, Long Island)
by Noah's family, with the help of the giant
cinder-eyed monster Watchers, after our man
Noah envisions an apocalyptic flood in the
near future. When the rains come Noah decides to flee
on the Ark with his family and the animals, leaving
behind the rest of the rabble population.
on the Ark uninvited is the film's villain, the
Canaanite King, Tubal-Cain (Ray Winstone),
who is set on killing his arch rival Noah.
great presence as Noah grounds the film, and makes it
watchable in a video game way despite its
underwhelming script. The Aussie ably plays the humble
servant of the Lord who later becomes a dangerous
zealot, who loses sight of what it's like to be human
and in the end only comes to his senses when all his
loved-ones fear him and begin to move away from him.
pic has some graceful scenes, and some scenes that
left me more impressed with the technical achievements
than the storytelling and its heavy-handed
humanitarian messages. I realize how difficult Bible
pictures are to make and how so few of them cut the
grade and wanted to cut this pic as much slack as
possible, but I found it too shallow, ponderous,
overlong and too unrewarding an interpretation of Noah
to move me.
REVIEWED ON 3/28/2014 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ