BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
JULY 28, 2014
Visually stunning and equally captivating, “Noah”, at its core, is the story we all know from the Bible. As most people would roll their eyes at a big-budgeted, Hollywood adaptation of an Old Testament saga, Darren Aronofsky takes his patented darkness and flair from his previous works like “The Fountain” and “Black Swan” and carries them into his biggest, most successful undertaking yet. After hearing that Aronofsky had to fight the studio to get his complete, untampered vision on-screen, I knew the film was going to be a masterpiece. When a prolific director is willing to stick their neck out for what they believe, it often means they are doing their best work and are unwilling to compromise. That notion is mirrored perfectly in the film itself, with themes of faith guiding the narrative throughout the film.
Russell Crowe plays Noah, a modest man with a small family, who has reoccurring visions, one of which includes a great flood. With confirmation from his grandfather, Methuselah (Anthony Hopkins), who gives him a special seed to plant, Noah proceeds in building an ark that will shelter two of every species of animal and insect from the oncoming devastation. Introduced next, with much controversy, are the Watchers, which are fallen angels in the form of walking, talking stone creatures. Confined to Earth as punishment, these massive beasts offer their help to Noah after seeing the forest that Methuselah’s seed provides. Harnessing the characteristics of Ents from “The Lord Of The Rings” and the visual style of Rockbiter from “The Neverending Story”, many critics believed these creatures felt out of place in this re-imagining of Noah’s Ark. Although I wonder what the film would have been like without them, there is still a majestic quality to these characters that add to the film quite nicely, and again, these characters were apart of Aronofsky’s ultimate vision.
With the help of the Watchers and his family, including his wife (Jennifer Connolly), their sons Shem (Douglas Booth), Ham (Logan Lerman), and Japeth (Leo McHugh Carroll), and their daughter-in-law, Ila (Emma Watson), the massive Ark is eventually completed. With most of the cast falling in the shadow of Crowe, besides Emma Watson, who provides a much-needed gentleness to her role and the film as a whole, one actor who refuses to be overshadowed is Ray Winstone as Tubal-Cain, the antagonist of the film. Turned away from Noah’s camp, Tubal-Cain sends his people to fight for the Ark when the rain begins to fall. Along with this pending war, Noah also faces struggles in securing the animals in the Ark, tending to his family as they worry about their future, and even venturing out in an attempt to find wives for his sons. Crowe handles the role with a calm reserve, personifying the legend of Noah. Complimenting Winstone perfectly, you can almost envision a promotional poster with these two perfect adversaries facing off with the Ark between them in the background. Topped off with strong emotion and some of the best visual effects of the year, both of which come out in full force when the flood occurs, “Noah” is one of the most fully realized life action Biblical films to come out of the last few decades and one of the best films of the year.
March 28, 2014
(for violence, disturbing images and brief suggestive content)