June 12, 2014
Writer and director Darren Aronofsky gives us his own interpretation of the familiar Biblical tale of Noah and his Ark. Whatever underlying message he has behind this very odd and unconventional version, I confess I can only guess at, and I do not like my interpretation of what Aronofsky is trying to say. I think his artistic imagination went too far for a story that many people have a definite idea for since childhood.
There was Noah (Russell Crowe), his wife (Jennifer Connely) and his three sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman) and Japheth. There was an ark and a flood. That is what they show in the trailer, which indeed looked good. But when you see the actual film, you realize that those trailer scenes are all that what this film has got in common with the Bible. Everything else that stretched this film to more than two hours is all from the dark imagination of Darren Aronofsky.
There were scenes of supernatural magic, but not from God. They were care of their miraculous grandfather Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins) who can cause an entire barren valley to become a lush forest with a river all from one single seed. He can also cause a barren woman to again have the capacity to bear children, with his mere touch. But that is not the oddest thing about this film.
My vote for the most absurd idea and imagery would have to be those robotic giants made of stone called The Watchers, who move and sound like the Transformers. They were supposed to be the fallen angels, whose only "sin" was wanting to help man. They were the ones who help Noah build his ark. This idea is heretical to the core. But even without going into religious beliefs, their presence in this type of film is ridiculous.
I do not get the look and costumes that Noah and the other characters were made to sport. There is a dystopian futuristic vibe going on that is hard to take, since this is supposed to be about the ancient past. Particularly with the villain character Tubal-cain (Ray Winstone) you certainly feel that he lost his way into this film from the set of "Mad Max" or "Waterworld" with his leather duds and hairstyle.
The cast of actors looked excellent on paper, but unfortunately, they were all overacting to the hilt here. Russell Crowe portrayed Noah with his signature grit and passion. However, his Noah felt like a mad man, even giving off a psychotic killer vibe in parts. A role was created to accommodate Emma Watson as Shem's wife who will test Noah's will in the end, but she was made to act so whiny and annoying. Jennifer Connely and Anthony Hopkins do not seem to bring anything outstanding to their performances. Logan Lerman at least manages to give us something interesting with his rebellious middle-child character.
The single part of the film I really liked was when Noah told the story of Creation. The montage of imagery Aronofsky conjured up was magical. It evokes memories of Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life" imagery, but more accessible. Only for that inspired sequence alone do I award this film another star.
As a whole, I did not like this movie. If the intention was being artistic, it did not feel like a good art film. If you think too much into the nebulous references within the story, you may get the feeling that this film is sending negative messages about the Creator. It is too long, boring and pretentious for most movie audiences. Watch at your own risk. 2/10.