‘Noah’ Review

By Ben Cramer

Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky, is an imaginative retelling of the biblical story of a man chosen by God to build an ark that will save the animals and his family from a great flood that will wipe out the rest of humanity. The story of Noah is perhaps one of the most well-known in the Book of Genesis, alongside Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. However, this is a Darren Aronofsky film. Movie fans who are familiar with Aronofsky’s filmography can probably agree that his films’ subject matter can be quite intense and hard to swallow. In the case of this movie, the religious have a right to be skeptical because of how common it is for a director like Aronofsky to take artistic liberties when adapting from a sacred text.

    Aronofsky has said in interviews that ever since he was in grade school he has wanted to make a movie on Noah based on his own interpretation. It’s not surprising that this film stirred up controversy amongst the religious and even secular audiences. Unfortunately, the controversies and “horrid” changes from the source material distract viewers from the quality of this film. It quickly becomes evident in the film that Aronofsky tries to exercise the Noah narrative as an allegorical opportunity between ideologies of faith and human self-determination.

Russell Crowe brought a terrific performance as Noah. There were many sides to his character – a man of faith, a husband and father, a bully, and even a warrior. Noah has constant nightmares of various images of the fall of man, and takes this as a sign from God, (known as “The Creator” in the movie) to build the ark. Throughout the movie, we see Noah as a loving father who protects his family, but also a devout man of faith whose actions sometimes conflict with his wife and sons.

     After playing his wife in A Beautiful Mind, Jennifer Connelly is once again the wife of Russell Crowe’s character. Her performance as the wife and mother of their three sons was great and at times hard to watch because of how much you care for her. Emma Watson plays the adopted daughter of Noah and the wife of their oldest son, Shem (Douglas Booth). Her character has a mysterious scar causing infertility and this proves to be a crucial element in the subplot of her relationship with the family. Logan Lerman, Watson’s co-star from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, is also in this movie as Noah’s second son, Ham. Lerman does an efficient job as the son who questions his father’s faith and wonders why all of humanity must be destroyed.

Ray Winstone plays Tubal-cain, a descendant of Cain who proclaims himself as king and serves as a complex and menacing villain to Crowe’s Noah. Winstone was fantastic as the barbaric villain, and it was refreshing to see Aronofsky develop a character who wasn’t really emphasized in the biblical text. Other characters Aronofsky integrated into his story are fallen angels known as The Watchers who become fused with the earthly matter and thus look like hulking rock creatures. It’s hard not to draw comparisons with these figures to the tree-like Ents from The Lord of the Rings, as both offer bits of wisdom and ultimately fight for the good side. Anthony Hopkins is also worth noting as he plays Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah and a mystical figure who serves as a biblical version of Yoda.

A major asset to this film was the breathtaking CGI used to create the flood sequences, but also for the montage sequences of Noah’s nightmares and when he tells the story of creation to his family. Just like with other Aronofsky films, notably Black Swan and Requiem for a Dream, the cinematography and score were excellent.

It’s best recommended to see this film with an open mind, because all of the blended elements added into this story make it stand out from other Biblical epics. Ultimately though, Aronofsky does give audiences a rich story of good versus evil and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Verdict: Good, Noah is visually stunning, but the obvious liberties from the Biblical text may upset some audiences
Positives: Breathtaking CGI, Good performances by Crowe and Watson, Rich story of good vs. evil
Negatives: Subject matter might be tense for some viewers