Noah (2014) directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, Ray Winstone and Anthony Hopkins. This is the big budget screen adaptation of the Bible’s creation story, and I was eager to see this due to being a fan of Aronofsky’s previous work.
Synopsis: Noah (Crowe) is chosen by God to gather all of the world’s animals, and repopulate the earth after an apocalyptic flood. Pertaining to the teachings of the Bible, humans are all stained with original sin and as a result the world needs to be cleansed. Noah lives with his family: Wife Naameh (Connelly), and his three children Shem, Japheth and Ham (Lerman). Noah has a number of visions (civilization being immersed in water being one) which makes him believe the Creator is trying to communicate with him. After a pilgrimage to seek guidance from his grandfather Methuselah (Hopkins), the family collide with an injured girl Ila (played by Emma Watson as the story progresses). The family take her in and adopt her. Noah decides he needs a vessel to be able to withstand the impending flood, so begins building a massive ark. Eight years later, Noah is stopped in his tracks by self-proclaimed king Tubal-Cain (Winstone) who killed Noah’s father years prior. As resources are low, he threatens to storm the ark with his army. Noah and his family are helped by a group of fallen angels known as the Watchers who came to earth to help humans. The Watchers prevent the army from storming the ark. As the flood begins to immerse the earth, Noah tries to save his family as well as the world’s animal population. In doing so, he must also deal with the resistance from Tubal-Cain as well as from his own family based on the difficult decisions he must make.
My initial thoughts of Noah were of mixed emotions. There were elements of the movie I really liked such as the special effects, and the acting. However, my main issues lie with the story itself. Aronofsky and co-writer Ari Handel certainly did craft an epic story from a few lines of source text which is an achievement in itself, but I just kept thinking really? I am not a religious person, therefore I can look at this story from an unbiased perspective. However, the story does seem to drag at points, and there was no real explanation about little things like how these animals were fed on the ark. Despite this, I felt the story did capture some very important themes such as morality. Due to Noah’s faith in the Creator (God is never mentioned in this movie), he lets mankind perish in the flood. Noah acts on the basis of these visions and dreams to ultimately make the decisions he does. I have always had problems with this element of the story, therefore I cannot hold Aronofsky accountable for this. However, this does make for some uneasy viewing. Morality is brought into question when piles of people are on top of each other and desperate to get onto the ark, whereas Noah and his family are safe from the flood.
The Watchers, whom were invented for the purpose of this story, do not seem to fit. They look like rock versions of the Transformers, and are also similar looking to the rock giants in The Hobbit. They add a somewhat fantasy based element to this tale which seems to contradict the view of this story being historical.
I was impressed by the cast – Watson and Connelly in particular. They put in the strongest performances, and it is nice to see Watson mature as an actress. The cast have a lot of chemistry, and marks the second time Connelly and Crowe have worked together as well as Watson and Lerman. Winstone plays the story’s antagonist well, and Hopkins also does not disappoint despite his limited appearance. Crowe puts in a good performance as Noah, and is still likeable despite some of the unpopular decisions he makes throughout the story.
The special effects are fantastic. This is definitely how I imagined the flood would have looked. I also liked the way the Garden of Eden was portrayed. Adam and Eve are shown as golden figures which perfectly illustrates their absence of sin. We also see the creation story from Genesis which is the first time I have seen this portrayed in film form. As a result, this really did feel momentous. I also have to mention cinematographer Matthew Libatique for some beautiful images in this movie.
Overall, I would recommend this film for the CGI and acting. The story is not perfect, but is still worth a watch.